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Education Institutions Receive Major Grants From NW Natural

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


NW Natural is donating $51,750 to improve the Oregon's education system this year. Five grants will be awarded to local organizations ranging from pre-K to higher education. The grants represent a total of 1$ million in donations that shareholders donate to community causes each year.

"We recognize the challenges that many local schools and universities are up against when it comes to providing students the best education possible," said Von Summers, community affairs manager for NW Natural. "Our goal is that these grants will help make a difference in the lives of many students."

NW Natural also donates to nonprofit associations that support the environment, community, health and youth services, as well as arts and culture.

From pre-K to higher education, the five local organizations receiving grants from NW Natural shareholders this year include:

  •  $15,750 Grant Recipient: Portland State University Foundation

Supporting Portland State University's mission to be a leading public urban university, the PSU Foundation contributes to priorities such as student scholarships, the School of Business Administration and renovations of Viking Pavilion and Academic Center.

  •  $11,000 Grant Recipient: Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities

The Oregon Alliance of Independent College & Universities serves regionally accredited, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in Oregon through programs such as scholarships for first generation students attending college.

  •  $10,000 Grant Recipient: Portland Community College (PCC) Foundation

With a vision of providing all students in the region with an excellent education regardless of their ability to pay, the PCC Foundation helps support student scholarships and educational programs at PCC.

  •  $7,500 Grant Recipient: Schoolhouse Supplies

Schoolhouse Supplies is an award-winning nonprofit that supports public education in Portland by giving students and teachers free classroom supplies.

  •  $7,500 Grant Recipient: Stand for Children

Through college scholarship programs and other initiatives, Stand for Children mobilizes the community around a common goal of creating vibrant Oregon schools that are great places in which to teach and learn.

For more information visit nwnatural.com


Related Slideshow: 10 Things To Know About the Portland School Transfer System

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Why The Change

Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith asked SACET in March 2013 to recommend a new transfer policy, in order to improve district equity and quality.  

After researching trends of transferring students and the effect on neighborhood schools, SACET felt the current policy was not living up to the standards of the Board. In a report to the Board in October, their research found racial disparity between schools and neighborhoods, in part due to transferring students.     

By changing the policy, SACET said in their report they hope to improve the quality of schools and the resources available.

“All students should have access to a high quality and appropriate education close to their home,” the report said.

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Who It Will Affect

Every year a few hundred students apply for the Portland Public School transfer lottery. In 2014, 425 students in grades K-8 entered the lottery, and 80 percent received the transfer they wanted.  Now, petitions will be the only option for transferring neighborhood schools. 

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Anyone Can Transfer

All students in the Portland Public School District have the right to request a transfer, but now all transfers to neighborhood schools will be picked through a petition process.  

Before, many transfers were granted through a lottery system that randomly selected students who applied within a timeframe. The number chosen depended on how much space was available at the school after those already in the neighborhood district were accounted for.   

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A parent or guardian must fill out a petition form to the Enrollment and Transfer Center, explaining why they want the student to transfer into a different neighborhood school.  Transportation hardships or concerns for child safety are some examples of viable reasons for a transfer. 

The specific criteria of what will be considered when reviewing transfer petitions will be made available before the transfer cycle opens for the coming school year.  The petition process follows the same guidelines as the earlier hardship petition policy.  

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Process for Approving Requests

Petition specialists with the Portland Public School District staff will review the petitions for each school, with three assigned to every application. The specialists then go over the request with the schools and the family to gather additional information and review the case. 

Afterwards, the specialists will make their decision. The entire process could take several weeks.

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If parents are unhappy with the result of their petition request, they can appeal the decision to the senior cluster director who oversees the school they are trying to transfer to. The senior director’s ruling is final and should be given within 10 days. 

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Focus Option Schools

Focus option schools formerly known as magnate schools, specialize in enhanced programs such as art or environmental studies. These schools and programs will solely use the lottery process, since they are they are designed to attract students from all over the district. 

However, siblings and low-income students will be given preference before the lottery winners are picked.

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Sibling Preference

At focus option schools, siblings of currently enrolled students will have highest transfer priority before the lottery takes place, only behind students who are required by to attend a focus option program under district policy. 

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Low Income Students

Low-income students applying for a transfer to a focus option school will have a lower priority than a sibling requesting a transfer, but will have a higher preference than all other lottery entries.  SACET’s research says this will help focus  option schools become more diverse.

The policy defines low income students as someone who qualifies for free and reduced-priced meals or enrollment in a Head Start Program. The preference will apply in schools that have a lower enrollment rate of low-income students than the district average.

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When It Starts

The changes to the new transfer policy will start for the 2015-2014 school year and the coming enrollment period.

For high school students, the transfer period is Feb. 4-18. Elementary and middle school students have from Feb. 9 –March 6 to submit transfer petitions. 


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