Submitted by Futures Northwest

Futures Northwest, a local education nonprofit, has had remarkable success, with 95% of its students over the past four years having been admitted to a college of their choice immediately after high school – a rate 2x higher than the national/state average for income-eligible, first-generation students.

But how can student success be achieved in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

That’s why Futures Northwest has partnered with the Skagit STEM Network to develop a series of new, free communication and engagement tools to support and connect first-generation students in preparing for higher education or training programs.

With the support of Western Washington University interns, college institutions/training programs, and local first gen students, the Futures Northwest team has launched a new blog, YouTube Channel, and podcast, in addition to sharing content, resources and news through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

“The coronavirus creates even deeper uncertainty for first gen, low income, and students of color, which is why we want to make this information as open and available as possible, dismantling secret handshakes to support their dreams,” said Futures Northwest Operations Manager Ashley DeLatour. “Futures Northwest is dedicated to the long-term success of our most vulnerable populations and is prepared to continually develop these resources to support the community in navigating during these challenging times.”

Futures Northwest can provide free virtual support and assist students with pathways support, financial aid, scholarships, and college applications at www.futuresnw.org.

Carmen Green, the Associate Director for Outreach at Whatcom Community College, collaborates with Futures Northwest to create the first interview on its YouTube channel, Northwest Career and College Connections. This channel will highlight interviews from five local higher education institutions, Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, Skagit Valley College, Bellingham Technical College and Northwest Indian College, as well as apprenticeship programs and support services.

Futures Northwest is also expanding virtual support by releasing its first website blog and podcast featuring unique stories from first-generation college students as well as critical support services available to them for free in Whatcom and Skagit County. The blog and podcast allow individuals to share their college experience, honestly naming the challenges they have faced while also describing resources that helped them through their journey.

Founded in 2010, Futures Northwest helps income-eligible, first-generation students navigate pathways to college or training programs. “Our multifaceted approach helps families navigate systemic barriers that challenge accessibility to post-secondary education,” DeLatour said. “We do this by providing resources, personal and academic support, mentorship, comprehensive financial aid literacy training, and college/training/career advising to succeed in college and beyond.”

For further information and complete list of local resources, please visit www.futuresnw.org.

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