Be the Change

BeTheChangeService Clubs Helping Families Escape Generational Poverty

The Community Foundation of North Central Washington and the United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties invited Service Club members in Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties to “Be the Change” that helps alleviate generational poverty in the region.

Made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “Be the Change” looks to financially support service club projects that help low-income families escape the cycle of generational poverty and expand on them.

The grant provided service clubs with $20,000 each to be spent over two years for projects that help alleviate poverty.

Grant Recipients and Programs

East Wenatchee Rotary will receive mentoring and poverty awareness training to better understand the culture of poverty and will develop mentoring relationships with students at Eastmont Alternative High School. They will also provide scholarship awards to graduates seeking post-secondary education.

Junior Service League Wenatchee (JSLW) is partnering with “Jobs for Washington’s Graduates” to prevent dropout for at-risk teens and help them with tools to enter the workforce. JSLW members will mentor students through resume writing, mock interviews, and job shadowing opportunities. The program will serve roughly 20 students in its first year and 40 in its second.

Leavenworth Rotary will be working with Icicle River Middle School students impacted by the cycle of poverty through an “Interact Program” that will allow selected 8th graders to participate in a community service “Legacy Project”. The students will be paired with Rotarian mentors and will be assigned to manage an aspect of the project – such as project management, budget, public relations – to help them develop skills and confidence in achievement. Eight students who demonstrate the most growth will attend a 5-day leadership experience at Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming, that will help them develop tools and hone their skills to successfully launch their legacy project.

Okanogan/Omak Rotary will implement the “Getting Ahead” program that focuses on building relationships with families in poverty, understanding their issues, and helping them find solutions. One representative from ten families will participate in a 16-week session in a safe space where they can make connections with others, investigate differing social norms in the community, discuss how they are affected by poverty, and learn the resources available to them. Each family representative creates a personal goal, determines a community problem to solve, creates an action plan, and is partnered with a Rotarian to help meet their goals.

Wenatchee Central Lions will partner with Community Choice Health & Education Institute to build on the reach of the Lions’ Health Screening Van to: reach a greater number of low income children with vision and hearing screenings; engage families with health literacy opportunities and help them navigate health services; provide life coaching support; and connecting service providers to people in need.

Wenatchee Downtown Kiwanis will implement a program called “Opportunity Community” that will focus on academic, social, and behavioral improvements for families with children. This program engages the entire community to participate through awareness education, becoming mentors, and helping build on the strengths of people to escape poverty and overcome existing barriers.

Wenatchee North Rotary will partner with the United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties to develop an Early Learning Initiative to improve kindergarten readiness. The Rotary will connect with families, schools, businesses, social services, government, and faith groups to develop a community-wide approach to increase the number of children ready for kindergarten.

Wenatchee Rotary is partnering with nonprofit organizations that offer parenting education using research based curriculum with focus on academic, health, and general parenting strategies that support functional family structure and youth development.

Wenatchee Sunrise Rotary will enhance their Challenge Scholarship program that currently selects two at-risk high school sophomores and encourages them to graduate by providing two years of college tuition and 50% reimbursement of textbooks. The grant will enhance the mentorship aspect of the challenge, pairing Rotarians with 10 sophomores who will help support their goal to graduate. It will also provide funds to add an additional scholarship incentive for one more student.

Winthrop Downtown Kiwanis will work with the Independent Learning Center (ILC), an alternative High School in Twisp. The grant will help to fund ILC programs, which are designed around self-study projects based on student interest and community based internships. Kiwanis members will serve as mentors to these students, and will also provide internships and practical experience. The grant will also support a Key Club at the ILC including Key Leadership weekends to develop important leadership skills.

For questions or more information, contact Director of Community Philanthropy, Denise Sorom, at or call (509) 663-7716.

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