Community Connections Events Additional Resources

Back to School: The Opportunity Gap and Community Responses


Thank you for your interest in Oregon Community Foundation’s September 28 virtual event “Community Connections: Navigating Back-to-School Challenges.” We are especially grateful to Lisa Harnisch, Pilar Palos, Becca Tatum, Mark Witty, and our moderator and OCF colleague Mary Louise McClintock for the insights they shared into the work of educators and partners from different regions around the state.

OCF is pleased to offer the following resources that might help you develop a fuller perspective on a highly unusual school year. We encourage you to reach out to a Donor Relations Officer or email us for more information about organizations in your region who are doing this crucial work with students.

A recording of the event is available here .  Our newsletter story detailing the event can be found here.

Exploring the work of our presenters

  • Superintendent Mark Witty is coordinating efforts at the Baker 5J School District, including a plan to deliver free meals to every student. The district’s comprehensive COVID-19 plan can be found here.   
  • Lisa Harnisch’s work at Marion-Polk Early Learning Hub helps align resources and services for families throughout the region.  
  • Better Together Central Oregon’s programs depend on partnerships with community organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs, as shown by the slides Becca Tatum shared during the event

Statewide Resources

  • Oregon Department of Education has created a webpage with resources and guidance on Comprehensive Distance Learning, the framework school districts are required to operate under for this school year.
  • In mid-September, Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education, made a detailed presentation to the Oregon Legislature’s House Committee on Education on statewide plans for the school year.
  • Oregon Early Learning Division’s website has an extensive list of resources for parents and educators regarding COVID-19 and early care/learning programs.

Research from OCF and others

  • Oregon Community Foundation has a team of staff researchers who frequently work with our education specialists and program officers to develop reports on challenges and opportunities facing Oregon’s students and educators.
    • Here is a link to our work evaluating OCF’s “out of school time” initiative, which explores how students can be best served while not in the classroom.
    • Another report makes a case for culturally-specific strategies in serving families with the youngest learners  
  • The Harvard Center for the Developing Child recently produced a podcast on COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impact on the developing brain
  • New America Foundation created a detailed report on pandemic planning for educators

Thank you again for partnering with OCF to help improve the lives of all Oregonians.