A new effort is underway to unite education, community and business groups to improve students’ graduation rates and career success across Central Oregon.

Better Together has been at work for just over a year, but officially launched this month with an event at the Redmond Public Library. The undertaking was spurred by a grant from the Oregon Community Foundation, which brought together the six Central Oregon school districts, the High Desert Education Service District, Central Oregon Community College, OSU-Cascades, local nonprofits and businesses. The aim of Better Together is not to start new programs but instead to coordinate toward promoting a set of outcomes that encourage graduation and employment, with the recognition that a student’s success depends on much more than what happens at school.

“The message to schools is, ‘You’re not in this alone,’” said Anna Higgins, the organization’s coordinator of student success. “It’s not just about academic success, it’s about the whole child, within the family and community contexts. To do this, we have a collection of some unlikely partners, and working on these outcomes matters for different reasons to each group.”

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