Education to Financial Stability Task Force

The Education to Financial Stability Task Force (EFSTF), convened by United Way of Thurston County, is a group of experts in various 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. In addition, they have 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.

Even with financial aid available, less than 50% of Thurston County students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA ensures anyone who wants to pursue further education can do so, regardless of family, household, or individual income. Most barriers to pursuing continuing education are related to lack of information, trust, and direct connections. To address these issues, the EFSTF funded and placed navigators in high schools to help students with the application process along with connecting them with career and college resources. These navigators are first-generation and bilingual college graduates.

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 working to expand the program to all high schools and middle schools students. With this expansion, they are adding case managers at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC). These case managers will help increase the completion and 4-yr college transfer rate from 50% (highest in Washington State) to a national benchmark. As of January 2024 we have added a navigator to Olympia School District.


A testimonial from one of the students who was helped by the Navigators Program.



Education to Financial Stability Task Force Includes:
Participating School Districts Participating Organizations
North Thurston Public Schools Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County South Puget Sound Community College
Olympia School District Capital STEM Alliance at ESD 113 Thurston County Chamber of Commerce
Tumwater School District J Robertson and Company Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney
Yelm Community Schools John Aultman, Office of Governor Jay Inslee Thurston Economic Development Council
  Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Timberland Regional Library
  Olympia Master Builders United Way of Thurston County
  PacMtn Workforce Development Council Washington Student Achievement Council