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Altera—Growing in rural Central Washington

In a year like no other, we saw how youth workers and organizations came together and reimagined what it meant to support children, youth, and families. Below is one of 20 people and organizations that inspired us in 2020. Read the full report.

Altera, an educational nonprofit partnering with central Washington rural school districts serving Hispanic families, many speaking Spanish as their home language, saw firsthand how devastating the COVID pandemic could be for their communities.  

A student shows the phases of the moon using Oreos— a project that captivated children and families alike.
A student shows the phases of the moon using Oreos— a project that captivated children and families alike.

Two of their programs in the small rural communities of Highland/Warden and Tonasket/Oroville serve families with little internet access or technology. They knew—as the experts were warning—that their students were not set up for success.  

Staff quickly changed their program model from direct student service to in-home family-supported enrichment. They repurposed their transportation budget and bought books in both Spanish and English with learning activities focused on ‘growing things’ and ‘the night sky’—two themes that could engage whole families to learn together.   

Altera Executive Director Dr. Barbara Peterson notes, “There are great assets for learning in our families’ homes; what they lacked were reading resources and a bit of guidance. Parents and students spoke of reading books, planting seeds, and watching the movement of the moon as a highlight of their time together.  We believe there (were) more hours spent learning beyond school-guided instructional time because our families had more in-home resources.” 

Altera’s programs receive funding from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Center program and coaching, training, and continuous quality improvement support from SOWA.

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