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Pathways to Opportunity summit moves key partnership forward

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A diverse coalition is focused on supporting Oregonians who need better pathways into college and careers that offer economic mobility.

The recent Oregon Pathways to Opportunity Summit convened leaders and staff from community colleges, Department of Human Services (ODHS), education advocates, and anti-poverty partners from across the state. The attendees look forward to further deepening ties and relationships between community colleges and key partners like ODHS and Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, to develop solutions that help move people out of poverty.

Kate Kinder.

Kate Kinder.

“We are further expanding our partnerships and working collaboratively to advocate for these issues,” said Kate Kinder, the director of career pathways and skills training. “This work is especially critical right now, given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires.”

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Their work is crucial at community colleges, because as noted in a 2019 study of Oregon’s colleges, 63% of students’ basic needs are not being met. Community colleges are working with Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon to pass legislation that would fund and place a benefits navigator on each community college campus in Oregon. Heeding the calls of students from across Oregon, these navigators will ensure that students can access the critical benefits and resources that end hunger and homelessness, so more students can complete college and move into careers. Summit attendees will be making the case for this legislation, sharing how it will serve those left behind by the last recession.

“If we want to increase racial justice, create opportunity in rural communities, and have an inclusive economic recovery, we need to shift how our systems work and prioritize policies and programs in Oregon that are proven to increase equitable opportunity,” Kinder added.

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