The in Chehalis, Washington, has received a $10 million gift from philanthropist and former CEO Orin Smith to help improve outcomes for students in the , reports.
Awarded through the , the endowment gift is expected to generate approximately $500,000 annually in support of the Chehalis Foundation's — half the private funding needed to finance the initiative each year. With the funds, the initiative will work to boost the college graduation or credential rate for students in the class of 2018 to at least 60 percent within four years and to ensure that 80 percent of students from the class of 2019 matriculate at a college, university, or trade school. The initiative also will focus on boosting the number of college and university visits in the state, increasing dual enrollment opportunities for college and advanced placement classes, strengthening a summer math academy, and supporting mentoring at West High and . Roughly half of W.F. West graduates go on to attend Centralia.
A longtime supporter of the Chehalis Foundation, Orin Smith is a 1960 graduate of West High and a former president and CEO of Starbucks. He attended Centralia before transferring to the University of Washington, where he earned his bachelor's degree in business administration. Smith subsequently earned an MBA from Harvard University and served as the state budget director under governors Dixie Lee Ray and Booth Gardner before working his way up through the Starbucks Corp. to become president and CEO. After he retired, he served on the board of directors for and .
"Honestly, when we started, we were excited and we thought we were on to something big. But I don't think any of us fully realized what we were getting into," said Kevin Smith, who is co-chair of the Student Achievement Initiative and Orin Smith's brother. "We have made so much progress in such a short period of time with such outstanding work from everybody that it's kind of intoxicating and exciting to think about what we've done. Yet at the same time, the reality is, we're really just getting started."