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News Release
2023 OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education Educator of the Year winners. From left to right: Caryn Anderson, K-5 Educator of the Year winner; Lucas Dix, 6-8 Educator of the Year winner; Rob Stuart, President & CEO, OnPoint Community Credit Union; Willie Williams, 9-12 Educator of the Year winner; Samuel Platt, Gold Star Educator of the Year winner.
2023 OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education Educator of the Year winners. From left to right: Caryn Anderson, K-5 Educator of the Year winner; Lucas Dix, 6-8 Educator of the Year winner; Rob Stuart, President & CEO, OnPoint Community Credit Union; Willie Williams, 9-12 Educator of the Year winner; Samuel Platt, Gold Star Educator of the Year winner.
OnPoint Community Credit Union Now Accepting Nominations for Outstanding Educators Schools Making an Impact (Photo) - 02/20/24

The 15th annual OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education will recognize inspiring educators and schools with cash prizes—including paying the mortgage or rent for four teachers for an entire year


PORTLAND, Ore., February 20, 2024 — OnPoint Community Credit Union is calling for the public’s help to honor the region’s most inspiring and innovative teachers. Starting today, anyone can nominate a local educator for the 2024 OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education. The OnPoint Prize will award $193,000 to the winning educators and schools in May of this year.

Four winning educators will have their mortgage or rent paid by OnPoint for one year. Four runners-up will each receive a $5,000 cash prize. The OnPoint Prize also includes the Community Builder award for innovative school projects. Four schools will receive $2,000, and a fifth school selected by community votes will receive $5,000. A new category added in 2023 is the Gold Star awarda fourth category to honor pre-kindergarten teachers, counselors, librarians and school administrators.

“Educators do so much more than teach lessons – they shape the future leaders of our communities,” said Rob Stuart, President and Chief Executive Officer, OnPoint Community Credit Union. “As we open nominations for this year’s OnPoint Prize, we invite the public to join us in honoring those educators who go above and beyond to inspire, create and foster inclusivity.” 

Anyone can nominate an outstanding educator or apply for a Community Builder award starting today at www.onpointprize.com. The nomination period closes at 11:59 p.m. PST on Tuesday, April 8. OnPoint will announce the Educator of the Year finalists and Community Builder winners on May 8.

Since 2010, the OnPoint Prize has awarded more than $843,000 in prizes to 326 local educators and schools. This year’s awards include:

  • Educators of the Year: Four educators will have their mortgage or rent paid for one year and receive a $2,500 donation to their schools for resources and supplies. One educator from each category below will be chosen:
    • Grades K-5
    • Grades 6-8
    • Grades 9-12
    • Gold Star: A new category added last year that recognizes one educator who is a pre-kindergarten teacher, school counselor, substitute teacher, librarian or school administrator.

Runners-up: Four educators, one from each of the above categories, will receive a $5,000 cash award and a $1,500 donation to each of their schools for resources and supplies.

  • Community Builder Awards: One school, selected by community votes, will receive $5,000 for a project that will meaningfully improve that school or community. Four additional schools will each receive $2,000 for special projects.

Meet the four Educators of the Year who have had their mortgage or rent paid over the last year

Caryn Anderson, 4th grade teacher at Abernethy Elementary School in Portland, Ore.

Caryn Anderson balances individualized student attention with an inclusive classroom environment. She builds relationships with students and their families, and tailors instruction to each child's social, emotional and academic needs. Anderson's peers say she gives every student a voice, and parents say she catches students who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Anderson's emphasis on inclusion features books by authors of color and rich discussions about social injustice and racism.

Lucas Dix, 6-8th grade media arts and journalism teacher at Rowe Middle School in Milwaukie, Ore.

To understand Lucas Dix's influence at Milwaukie's Rowe Middle School, you'll need to watch one of the school news team's music videos. The Shamrock News video topics range from social-emotional development (Teach 100) to grammar (Comma Dance). Dix is a champion for positive school culture. He created the Rowe Zine, a magazine featuring writing pieces from language arts classes. He invented the 1 Million Word Club to encourage reading. He also brought back school dances and revitalized the track and cross-country teams.

Willie Williams, athletic advisor (formerly 9-12th grade history and economics teacher) at Roosevelt High School in Portland, Ore.

Willie Williams brings the spirit of community, respect, and inclusivity to Roosevelt High School. His curriculum elevates underrepresented groups and gets students thinking critically about history and justice. Williams is the Upward Bound mentor and Black student union advisor who stepped into the school's interim athletic director role mid-year, the classroom leader who greets his students with "Good morning, family," the educator who encourages critical thinking on electoral systems and immigration policy, and the role model who inspires students to join and lead social justice movements.

Samuel Platt, principal of Tumalo Community School in Tumalo, Ore. 

Samuel Platt was the first recipient of the Gold Star Educator award. His energy, love, and dedication have helped bring the Tumalo Community School to life. Platt championed the district's first music program in 2022, his first year on the job. The program included a new music teacher and the elementary school's first-ever concert. Platt also secured funding and staffing for eight after-school clubs in one week. He created initiatives such as the Comeback Kids, which supports faculty with tools that catch students up after two years of remote learning. Platt recognizes every student's birthday and their accomplishments over the school's loudspeaker. He also created the Kindness Awards assembly to honor students who have gone above and beyond to show kindness.

Five innovative school projects awarded funding in 2023

In 2023, OnPoint awarded five Community Builder grants to schools to fund innovative projects that inspire students, foster community, demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and reach a broad segment of the school community. 

The $5,000 grand prize, selected by community votes, went to Gaffney Lane Elementary School in Oregon City, a Title 1 school that was still working to transition back from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the funding, the school purchased furniture that fosters a collaborative learning environment, allowing the students to stand and work, move their desks into groups, sit with a partner or alone on more updated furniture. The school also utilized the funds to support students who require additional or alternative supplies to be successful, so they don’t feel so different from their classmates.

Four schools across Oregon and Southwest Washington received the $2,000 award: 

  1. Buckman Arts Focus Elementary’s Multicultural Family Art Nights
  2. Buena Vista Spanish Immersion Elementary’s Supplemental Food Relief/Dispensa de Alimentos program
  3. Desert Sky Montessori’s Outdoor Book Nooks
  4. Marylhurst School’s Relaxation Room & Calming Center

About the Nomination Process

Information about the OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education and how to submit a nomination is now available at www.onpointprize.com. Anyone can nominate an educator, and educators may also nominate themselves. Applicants must be a full-time or job-share classroom teacher, counselor, school administrator, or librarian for grades Pre-K-12 in an accredited public, private or charter school, located within any county that OnPoint serves. OnPoint also accepts applications for the Community Builder awards within those same counties. For information about the campaign, additional qualifications and contest rules, please visit www.onpointprize.com.

OnPoint was founded more than 90 years ago by 16 teachers, and continues to honor its roots and the dedication of educators in Oregon and SW WashingtonClick here to learn more.


OnPoint Community Credit Union is the largest credit union in Oregon, serving over 539,000 members and with assets of $8.7 billion. Founded in 1932, OnPoint Community Credit Union’s membership is available to anyone who lives or works in one of 28 Oregon counties (Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler and Yamhill) and two Washington counties (Skamania and Clark) and their immediate family members. More information is available at www.onpointcu.com or 503-228-7077 or 800-527-3932.


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