News and Insights

The Northwest Art of Bringing People Together


Deb Halliday, Graduation Matters Montana | How many convenings have you attended that turned out to be nothing more than a "sit and git" — panelists presenting recent data, research and the occasional inspirational story? At a recent Washington, D.C. gathering of practitioners working on high school dropout prevention, I kept waiting for the point when we’d be introduced to each other, or invited to talk in small groups about what we were hearing and how it connects — or doesn’t connect — to our own experiences. Instead: meeting over, nametags tossed, a nice new tote bag to add to my collection. On my flight home, I thought about how we’ve designed Graduation Matters Montana, in which we invite people to explore what we’re learning and to co-create new approaches. In six short years, we’ve reached the highest graduation rate on state record, with over 50 Montana communities now hosting a GMM initiative. The art of bringing people together has been central to this work, and I wondered: “Is it a Northwestern thing?” more »

Montana Philanthropy Transforms Graduation Rates


Caitlin Copple, Montana-Idaho-Wyoming Correspondent | Since 2009, the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation has granted $900,000 to help Graduation Matters Montana increase graduation rates in 53 communities — helping the state reach an all-time high of 86% of students graduating, cutting the drop-out rate by more than a third. Now in its fifth year, the Graduation Matters recipe for success focuses on family involvement and community partnerships. With Philanthropy Northwest's annual conference returning to Missoula in September, including Halligan as one of our co-chairs, the foundation looks forward to updating our six-state region's funders on what's possible through community collaboration — adding fuel to the ballooning interest in this place-based giving model. more »