Capital STEM Alliance Newsletter – December 2021

Student Reading

County Events: Regional Alliance for Youth (RALLY)

Mason County

  •  Turning Pointe will hold its annual Books and Blankets event on Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at its facility, located at 31 WA-300 Ste 101, Belfair, WA (located next to Peninsula Community Health Services). This will be an afternoon of art activities and treats. Before leaving families will receive books and blankets to stay cozy for the winter season.

Lewis County

United Way of Lewis County has received many calls from local entities wanting to support kids and families this holiday season with meals, toys, adopting an entire family, etc. They would love to be able to refer folks to the appropriate organization if there is an opportunity for businesses to support their clientele during the holidays.

If you have holiday needs, please respond back to Angela French with details and we will compile a list of holiday support options for the community. By keeping a running list of needs, United Way can easily direct people to the list and community needs. Also, please provide Angela with proper contact information for United Way to pass along. To reach Angela, email her at [email protected].

STEM Network Updates

Schools and community partners have had to get creative throughout the pandemic to continue supporting students’ and families’ needs for learning and other resources. One area where creativity is blossoming: Financial Aid Advising Day, which is meant to provide all high school seniors with the knowledge to apply for financial aid that can reduce costs associated with education and training after high school.

Across the state, schools, STEM Networks, and community-based organizations are working together to offer individualized and group support to enable students to complete their financial aid application, the FAFSA or WASFA. Completing this application is the first step to accessing most sources of financial aid, including the Washington College Grant, a need-based grant that does not need to be repaid. An eligible student from a family of four making around $56,000 or less per year would receive a full award. Partial grants are available for families making up to the state’s median family income, around $102,000 per year.

Increasingly, the job openings in Washington state are requiring a credential, such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate. National research shows that 90% of students who complete a financial aid application attend college and that the main reason students do not complete one is they think it’s too complex or that they are not eligible for aid. Financial aid application completion is down during the pandemic – nationally, the high school class of 2021 completed 4.8% fewer FAFSA forms than the previous high school class.

That makes Financial Aid Advising Day (FAAD) – which also can include a series of events and meetings as needed – all the more important. These events help break down barriers, large and small, that many students and families face in completing the application, from starting on a daunting process and getting a federal student aid identification (FSA ID), to accessing language supports. The Washington Student Achievement Council’s (WSAC) 12th Year Campaign is a one-stop support for districts and schools as they look for resources to implement Financial Aid Advising Day.

Keep reading and check out the new Financial Aid Completion Playbook developed by regional STEM Networks in collaboration with state agencies and partners to learn how a few partnerships across the state – in Yakima, the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas, and Kent – are leveraging community strengths and resources to boost the rate at which their students are completing financial aid applications, even as much of life remains virtual.

Career Connected Updates

The Capital STEM Alliance will hold its first Steering Committee meeting on January 13, 2022. The purpose of this initial meeting is to develop a vision and goals for the Alliance, a collective action coalition created to bring together Tribal, military, business, labor, education, community, philanthropy, legislative, and youth leaders to create, support and expand family-wage career opportunities for our region’s young people aged birth to 29. For more information about the Capital STEM Alliance, please contact Lorie Thompson at [email protected].