Community Risks, Assets and Adverse Childhood Experiences: Funder Workshop Exploring the Impact on Education

Thu, May 21, 2015,
10:30am to 2:30pm PDT
SeaTac, Wash.
18220 International Blvd SeaTac, WA 98188

Philanthropy Northwest and Foundation for Healthy Generations invite you to join us on Thursday, May 21st in SeaTac, WA from 10:30-2:30 (lunch provided) for a rare, in-depth briefing and discussion with Dr. Christopher Blodgett, Washington State University and Laura Porter, Senior Director – Learning Institute at Foundation for Healthy Generations, on compelling new data on the impact of community risks and assets on academic outcomes.


In March, 2015 Dr. Blodgett released the No School Alone report to the Washington State Office of Financial Management in response to Substitute House Bill 2739. Passed in 2014, SB 2739 directed a review of community factors that may influence academic success and youth wellbeing. Foundation for Healthy Generations’ Learning Institute partnered with Dr. Blodgett to both design the report and to provide qualitative data analysis. No School Alone provides critical insight into the relationship between community capacity, adults with a background of childhood adversity and academic achievement for children and youth.

The workshop will include:
  1. A briefing from Dr. Blodgett and Laura Porter on the data and their perspectives on ramifications and future lines of research and analytical inquiry.
  2. A facilitated discussion among philanthropic participants on how to consider the impact of this data in their work.
  3. A facilitated discussion on next steps for the philanthropic community - either collectively or independently.

Registration is required. Lunch is included. Fees support room rental and Dr. Blodgett's travel expenses. 

Eligibility: This meeting is open to Philanthropy Northwest members, donor-advised fund holders at member-organizations, and grantmakers and philanthropic representatives eligible to become members of Philanthropy Northwest. This workshop is not open to the public.

Key Findings:

There are several important findings in the report, among the most compelling is the dramatic impact on youth of community adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among adults.

While the effects of poverty on school performance guide long-term and significant investment policies, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is a comparatively new idea and until very recently has not been tested as a policy planning tool. Several hundred peer-reviewed research studies consistently support the role of ACEs as arguably the most powerful single predictor of health and wellbeing in adulthood but equivalent results in childhood only emerged in the last few years.

  • ACEs are not distributed equally across Washington State. Over 300,000 students, 28% of all students statewide, live in communities where more than 35% of the adults report high numbers of ACEs.
  • As the percentage of high ACE adults in a community increases, fewer students in that community pass WA standardized test.
  • Rates of suspensions increase in high ACEs communities.
  • Community ACEs are associated with higher risk factors in youth as they transition into adulthood.
  • The effects of ACEs are demonstrated beginning in elementary school-aged children.
  • As youth ACEs scores increase, performance on tests and youth protective factors decrease.

The report goes on to share some significant qualitative findings on community dynamics as well. First, communities need support in making big strides to improve their capacity. The report details the supports that are most valuable to respondents, such as:

  • A neutral convener-coordinator that synchronizes multi-discipline and multi-sector solutions;
  • Consistency in coordination and funding;
  • Relevant data and research available to local leaders;
  • Flexibility and respect for locally powerful solutions; and
  • Dedication within the community to developing cross-system and resident engagement with interrelated strategies.

The second big take away regarding community dynamics is that the milieu, or social environment, matters in terms of how kids are doing in schools. The attitude and responsiveness of informal and formal leaders is important, specifically the degree of efficacy, optimism, compassion and hope present. A quote from a set of 3rd party evaluators based on community key informant interviews reads, “Some communities have been able to tap into the soul of their community – with real grassroots empowerment and engagement, joint ownership and co-creation, welcoming, attitude of seeking and celebrating diversity, honoring each view of the world, empathy, and focusing on community ‘being’ rather than just on community ‘doing’.”

There are some findings that the team is still eagerly looking into, namely, the interactive effect of ACEs and poverty. What we do know is that poverty and ACEs both impact youth performance outcomes – in some of the same ways, and some different. We also know that these effects are significant and independent. 

Please contact Kristen Holway with questions related to this event: or 206-267-9954.