A thriving community requires equitable access to quality programs that support success in school, career, and community. These facts have prompted us to ask ourselves and our partners:

Education Infographic FINALAre students ready every step of the way?

Currently 2 in 5 children entering kindergarten in Pierce County are not ready for school, most notably in math. Unfortunately, as much as half of school failure may be attributable to gaps in early care and development before the start of kindergarten. A child who starts behind is likely to stay behind.

Education Infographic FINAL


Of the 83% of Pierce County students who graduate high school, only 66% enroll in any type of post-secondary education immediately after graduation. These figures lead to a population where only 24% of Pierce County residents hold a bachelor’s degree. This is about 6% below the national average and nearly 10% below the state average. The importance of education is significant. As the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports, by 2018, 67% of jobs in Washington State will require post-secondary education. In fact, people with a college degree earn an additional $1 million over a lifetime beyond those without a degree. That sort of financial advantage provides opportunities for a more stable and healthy lifestyle.

Are students given access to educational programs and are those programs quality?

The ability of all people to have equal opportunity to access education is only the start–quality matters. Focusing on vulnerable populations and providing additional support during the school day in the form of wrap-around services can help to ensure every student has the opportunity to reach their full-potential. Wrap-around services include supports like mental and physical healthcare, nutritional food, tutoring and mentorship along with crisis intervention assistance.

In Pierce County 17 school districts, 300 schools, and 7 universities and colleges are working with nonprofits, students, residents, businesses and institutions to address these challenges. In many cases these groups are forming partnerships and working together to fill gaps and support each other to improve student readiness, access, and quality.

Examples of Organizations Working to Improve Education in Pierce County:


R. Merle Palmer Minority Scholarship Foundation
Providing college readiness training and support

Children’s Museum of Tacoma
Providing a free drop-in preschool program 

Franklin Pierce Youth First! Coalition 
Supporting student and community readiness to learn 


Communities in Schools of Lakewood
Supporting Students so they can stay in school 

Project Child Success
Leading a collective impact movement to mobilize the community 

Pierce County Library 
Offering free access to books, music, films, and programs 


The Whole Child Initiative
Developing a sustainable school system 

Schools Out Washington 
Building quality improvement systems

Foundation for Tacoma Students 
Spearheading a community movement that believes every child can be successful 

Learn More

Discover organizations supporting education in our community with our Nonprofit Directory 

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