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News Release
Elevate Partnership Secures Multi-Million Dollar Grant from Gates Foundation (Photo) - 04/18/24

PASCO, WA – Educational Service District 123 (ESD 123) is thrilled to be part of a regional partnership that has been awarded a three-year Horizons Regional Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The southeast regional partnership is one of four regions awarded a Horizons Regional Grant, which focuses on addressing the low rate of students enrolling in post-secondary education in Washington state. 

As the official grant recipient, the United Way of the Blue Mountains is utilizing its coalition of community stakeholders, known as Elevate, to spearhead the region’s work. Under Elevate, the following southeast Washington entities will collaborate to carry out the grant work plan:

  • United Way of the Blue Mountains
  • Educational Service District 123
  • Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Communities in Schools of the Blue Mountain Region
  • Port of Columbia
  • College Place, Dayton, Prescott, and Walla Walla School Districts
  • Walla Walla Community College and Whitman College

The grant aims to bolster and expand programs to help more students transition from K-12 into post-secondary education pathways. Amanda Mount, Elevate Director of Policy & Advocacy with United Way of Blue Mountains, says that a number of factors contribute to a lower college-going rate in southeast Washington. 

“Some students are concerned about affordability and the time to get a degree,” Mount says. “Others may perceive getting a credential won’t help their earnings in the long run. Few Washington students complete the Federal Financial Aid Form (FAFSA). These grant dollars will help expand more staff at high schools to help with postsecondary planning.”

At ESD 123, Regional Career Connected Learning Coordinator Jim Kindle will be instrumental in leading the ESD’s collaboration with districts, communities, and partners. Kindle’s work will focus on strategic partnerships between schools, businesses, and industry, leading to workforce development initiatives (internships and apprenticeships) that are aligned with local school systems and labor market needs.

Preparing students for success in both college and careers contributes to the economic prosperity of our schools and communities across Columbia and Walla Walla Counties. Additional information on the Gates Foundation Horizons Regional Grants can be found at For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact Molly Curtiss, ESD 123 Director of Communications, at 509.544.5787 or


Attached Media Files: Elevate-logo.jpg
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