The Education to Financial Stability Task Force (EFSTF), convened by United Way of Thurston County, is a group of experts in different fields who are working together to help break the cycle of poverty in Thurston County.
They have identified a gap in high school seniors pursuing continuing education and found that the difference in earnings between a non-skilled job and one requiring a technical certificate can be as much as $750,000 over a working career.
They also noticed that, even with financial aid available, fewer than 50% of Thurston County students completed the FAFSA application, which ensures anyone who wants to pursue further education can do so, regardless of family, household or individual income. They also learned most barriers to pursuing continuing education were related to lack of information, trust and direct connections. To address these issues, the EFSTF funded and placed bilingual, first-generation college graduate navigators in high schools to help students with the application process and connect them with career and college resources.
The initial pilot navigator positions are hosted through partnerships with Yelm and North Thurston High Schools. The goal is to expand the pilot into permanent Navigator placements at all Thurston County high schools. The navigators have had success. One example: FAFSA completion rates increased from 30% to 42% in just two months at Yelm High School.
The Task Force is now working to expand the program to all high schools and middle-schools students, and to add case managers at SPSCC to increase the completion and 4-yr college transfer rate from 50% (highest in Washington State) to a national benchmark.
A testimonial from one of the students who was helped by the Navigators Program.
Education to Financial Stability Task Force Includes:
Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County | Capital STEM Alliance at ESD 113 | J Robertson and Company | John Aultman, Office of Governor Jay Inslee | North Thurston Public Schools | Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction | Olympia Master Builders | Olympia School District | PacMtn Workforce Development Council | South Puget Sound Community College | Thurston County Chamber of Commerce | Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney | Thurston Economic Development Council | Timberland Regional Library | Tumwater School District | United Way of Thurston County | Washington Student Achievement Council | Yelm Community Schools