Nationwide, only about 50% of youth in foster care graduate from high school. But in King County, a very different scenario has been unfolding for students participating in Treehouse’s Graduation Success program.

About 91% of participating students in the Class of 2020 are on track to graduate on time or the following year.

Treehouse helps students reach this critical milestone by providing the resources and one-on-one support and accountability they need to succeed.

In King County, one of nine counties where the program is offered, Graduation Success staff worked with 628 students, checking in thousands of times to discuss their interests, goals, attendance, behavior and grades during the 2018-19 school year. The organization’s ultimate goal is to have the capacity to assist every youth in foster care through their mid-20s, helping them train for and secure well-paying jobs and secure, stable housing.

Now, thanks to a $500,000 operational grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this worthy group is much closer to bringing this life-changing program to every youth in foster care across the state. The Gates Foundation also selected Treehouse as a “Foundation Cares” community partner, matching foundation employee’s donations and encouraging them to organize volunteer events.

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Although the foundation has long supported Treehouse’s work, this is its largest investment by far, said Jessica Ross, Treehouse’s chief development officer. Three quarters of the nonprofit’s annual $17 million budget comes from private donations, but the generous grant offers more than money. It is a stamp of approval from the results-driven philanthropy. This signals to other potential donors that Treehouse and its goal of eliminating the diploma gap for youth in the state’s foster-care system is worthy of generous support.

It also shows Washington’s youth in foster care that the community is ready to step up and help them achieve their dreams.