Esteemed Colleagues and Friends,

First, I hope 2019 has started strong for all of you. As you launch into the new year, I’d like to introduce you to a project the Graduate Tacoma movement seeks to embark upon in the coming months.

Tacoma Completes envisions a comprehensive, coordinated, community-wide system of supports helping all Tacoma Public School college-goers to access and persist through college to graduation. This project will work in the next few months to gather and build the necessary foundation to best understand what it might take to realize such a community-wide system. Ultimately, this project seeks to address the economic mobility of those students entering college, particularly those that identify as low-income, by extending our existing collaborative impact work into adjacent sectors (e.g. housing, transportation, and workforce).

The Foundation for Tacoma Students – the backbone organization to the Graduate Tacoma movement – has subcontracted with Degrees of Change, a local not-for-profit organization that prepares diverse, homegrown leaders to succeed in college and use their degrees to build more vibrant and equitable communities. Their role in working with us will be to identify both current strengths and gaps within the system that impedes students from persisting and completing college. Through environmental scanning and asset mapping, we hope in the next few months Degrees of Change will identify opportunities that can be discussed and acted upon in 2019. This project is supported by StriveTogether.

“We are excited to be a partner in Tacoma Completes,” writes Tim Herron, Degrees of Change President. “Supporting a comprehensive, coordinated, community-wide system of supports helping all Tacoma Public School college-goers to access and persist through college to graduation is part of the Degrees of Change organizational strategy as we believe that with that platform of support, more communities throughout the country can contribute to college persistence and ultimately greater community development.”

For a few of you, you may recall last year Graduate Tacoma exploring an opportunity with the Lumina Foundation – a national organization that seeks to increase the number of post-secondary credentials by 2025. During that exploration process, we engaged two local colleges – the University of Washington Tacoma and Tacoma Community College. Teams were established and information was collected to best understand the demographics of our students, their retention and persistence rates, and consider a draft plan forward. With Tacoma Completes, we hope to continue to engage more intentionally the same two colleges and discuss the myriad ways to support students persisting and completing college with mutually agreed upon measurable indicators.

Our hope in all of this is to lift opportunities that no institution or agency can tackle alone. Instead, to bring about collaborative structures and systems to support more students completing college and entering the workforce ready to thrive.

I’d like to thank you all in advance for your support through this preliminary process. Your partnership in this work is beyond words, but simply put very much appreciated.

Should you have any questions about Tacoma Completes, please feel free to contact either April Shine or Eric Wilson with the Foundation. For all questions regarding the collection of information over the next few months, please contact Nalani Linder or Tim Herron with Degrees of Change.

 

 

With Gratitude,

Tafona Ervin
Executive Director
Foundation for Tacoma Students