TransAlta Coal Transition Board Grants Centralia Community Foundation $2 Million Dollars for Education

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Education is at the heart of change for a better community

TransAlta has committed a total of $55 million to support energy efficiency, economic and community development, and education and retraining initiatives in Washington State. The TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Economic & Community Development Board was allocated $20 million to fund education, retraining, economic development, and community enhancement with at least $5 million specifically targeting the needs of displaced workers from the Centralia facility. Recently, the board awarded Centralia Community Foundation a $2 million grant for funding their Schools of Excellence Initiative.

The Centralia Community Foundation (CCF) was formed a little over a year ago with a mission to enhance the lives of the citizens of Centralia by accelerating opportunities in ways that will bring unimaginable possibilities to our community.

CCF Board President Dan Rich, a lifetime resident of Centralia and the owner of three local businesses says, “Our Board could not be more excited about receiving this grant. Creating change in our community and especially supporting education was the reason most of our founding Board members helped to launch this foundation.” Dan and our fellow Board Members believe community leaders can, and must, help reverse intergenerational poverty, high school dropout rates, and on-going economic decline in the city. Because a college degree or career certification is a requirement for more than 80% of jobs that are available in Washington State, we believe that quality education will make a significant impact. It will improve many of the issues facing this city. Quality education is critical to the future of our children, promoting economic development, and attracting new industries.

“The unique role of a community foundation is the ability to create public/private partnerships that bring different entities together for a common vision” said Tim Browning, Vice-President of the Board and Chairman of the Education Committee. “We have seen how successful and measurable that strategy is in advancing education in Chehalis schools. The Centralia Community Foundation was formed to follow the success of the Chehalis Foundation while making specific changes to reflect the unique Centralia population.”

The $2 million Centralia Coal Transition Grant to the Centralia Community Foundation will help transform public education for Centralia students.The $2 million Centralia Coal Transition  Grant to the Centralia Community Foundation will help transform public education for Centralia students. The Foundation has been working with Mark Davalos, Superintendent of Centralia School District (CSD), Amy Buzzard, CSD Board President, and CSD staff to build a three-year plan to enhance the effectiveness of the new Centralia High School STEM facilities being built. The grant will begin by funding the initial assessments and establishing milestones and metrics that will be provided by the BERC Group. (The BERC Group has been working with the Chehalis School District for five years, and last year started work with Centralia College.)

The Foundation will be supporting and enhancing the skills of our quality teaching and administrative CSD staff, adding summer MATH Programs, starting our FIRST Robotics club, and adding career and college advisors to guide kids from high school through college or a career training program.

The CCF Board will ensure that milestones and metrics are working as the recommended BERC Group assessments are implemented, helping create real and working partnerships with Centralia School District and Centralia College. CCF will also be working on best practices with help from the Chehalis Foundation.

Work for “Schools of Excellence” won’t stop with this grant. The Centralia Community Foundation is committed to creating a better future for those living in Centralia. Through philanthropic investment, the Foundation will create a positive change in Centralia for generations to come.

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Dan Rich, president of the Centralia Community Foundation, discusses the partnership it has created with the Centralia School District in order to receive a $2 million grant from TransAlta, while Jonathan Meyer, secretary of the foundation and Lewis County prosecutor, looks on Tuesday morning.