Washington State Women’s Commission director to lead Empowher, Heritage University celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage

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Washington State Women’s Commission director to lead Empowher, Heritage University celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage

Toppenish, Wash. – A dynamic panel of women leaders are being featured as part of Empowher, Heritage University’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. Empowher will be held virtually on Wednesday, October 14, 2020, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Dana Eliason, senior director of Donor Development at Heritage, and Empowher organizer, says recognizing this milestone for women is a natural choice for the institution. “Heritage University is an institution founded by women and where women make up 70% of the student body,” said Eliason. “At Heritage, we are all about empowering women to make an impact in the world.”

Headlining the event is Regina Malveaux, newly appointed director of the Washington State Women’s Commission, who will share how the Commission works to ensure women’s voices are heard in Olympia.  Ms. Malveaux will be interviewed by Reesha Cosby, YWCA of Yakima Board of Directors president. Following her remarks Ms. Malveaux will moderate a panel discussion. The panel is comprised of women in leadership positions across government, business, education and social service agencies. The panel consists of Washington State Representatives Debra Lekanoff (D-Burlington) and Gina Mosbrucker (R-Goldendale); Quinn Dalan, Yakima Volunteer Attorney Services executive director; Magaly Solis, La Casa Hogar citizenship program manager; Cady Padilla, Nuestra Casa executive director; and Virginia Hislop, community activist and volunteer.

People interested in attending Empowher can register at heritage.edu/empowher. For more information, contact Dana Eliason at (509) 865-0441 or eliason_d@heritage.edu.

Empowher is sponsored by Tree Top, and would not be possible without support from the following local organizations:

Washington State Women’s Commission
Junior League of Yakima
La Casa Hogar
League of Women Voters Yakima County
United Way of Central Washington
Yakima County Volunteer Attorney Services
YWCA Yakima
Nuestra Casa

 

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Heritage University awarded $50,000 grant from the Yakima Valley Resilience and Response Fund to help Non-Title 4 students impacted by COVID-19

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Heritage University awarded $50,000 grant

from the Yakima Valley Resilience and Response Fund to help Non-Title 4 students impacted by COVID-19

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is grateful to announce it is a recipient of a $50,000 grant from the Yakima Valley Resilience and Response Fund that is the result of a funding partnership with United Way of Central Washington, the Latino Community Fund, and the Yakima Valley Community Foundation. The grant will provide emergency funding for non-Title 4 eligible students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Non-Title 4 students, primarily DACA students, are not eligible to receive Federal CARES Act Funding for hardships resultant from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grant from the Yakima Valley Resilience and Response Fund supports charitable organizations and agencies working to address COVID-19’s impact on the Yakima Valley, focusing on its most vulnerable populations. Andrew Sund, Ph.D., president of Heritage University, expressed his gratitude to YVCF and its partners for awarding the grant to Heritage. “While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been instrumental in assisting many of our students, our non-Title 4 students are often the students most in need of emergency relief funding,” said Dr. Sund. “This grant will help ensure that all of our students facing COVID-19 related crises will be able to afford necessities such as food and housing until the economy begins to find its footing.”

Sharon Miracle, YVCF President and CEO said she is pleased to award the $50,000 grant to Heritage University. “We appreciate Heritage’s commitment to all of the amazing students that are such an important part of the Yakima Valley community,” said Miracle. “The educational opportunities Heritage provides is critical to our Valley, and we are honored to support them during this pandemic.”

For more information, contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

 

The Latino Community Fund cultivates new leaders, supports cultural and community based non-profit organizations, and improves the quality of life for all Washingtonians.  Contact Info: info@latinocommunityfund.org, (509) 901-2798

United Way of Central Washington gathers together people, ideas and resources to strengthen communities and improve lives. United Way of Central Washington is a local non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization, serving Yakima and Kittitas counties.  Contact Info: info@uwcw.org, (509) 248-1557

Yakima Valley Community Foundation has awarded grants in the Yakima Valley since 2004. The Yakima Valley Community Foundation’s mission is to connect people, resources and ideas so people and communities thrive.  Contact Info: grants@yakimavalleycf.org, (509) 457-7616

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La Casa Hogar executive named Heritage University’s Violet Lumley Rau Alumna of the Year

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La Casa Hogar executive named Heritage University’s Violet Lumley Rau Alumna of the Year

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University alumna Magaly Solis, currently the citizenship program manager at La Casa Hogar in Yakima, Wash., is this year’s recipient of the Violet Lumley Rau Alumna of the Year award. Heritage president Andrew Sund, Ph.D., presented the award to Solis during a ceremony held virtually due to Covid-19 safety protocols, with Solis receiving a trophy and certificate at the La Casa Hogar office on August 27, 2020.

La Casa Hogar is a non-profit organization that partners with Yakima Valley immigrant families which offers culturally and linguistically responsive early learning, adult education, civic engagement, and citizenship services. In her role as citizenship program manager, Solis connects people to their dreams of U.S. citizenship and all the opportunities it brings to them. “Magaly exemplifies the ideals and values of Heritage University—excellence, inclusion, perseverance, leadership and service,” said David Wise, vice president of Advancement. “She demonstrates her commitment to helping others and building communities every day in her personal and professional life. We are so proud of her and proud to call her an Eagle.”

“Heritage University offered me a pathway to achieve my educational goals. Dedicated instructors offered support and encouragement throughout my journey. The education I received at Heritage has allowed me to positively impact many lives in our community,” said Solis. “I am honored to receive the Violet Lumley Rau 2020 Alumna of the Year. This award is a celebration to many years of dedication and service to immigrant families in the Yakima Valley. I am proud to partner with students, volunteers, allies and La Casa Hogar’s resilient and powerful team to transform lives and our Yakima Valley.”

Magaly Solis graduated from Heritage in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Education. Ms. Solis is the first in her family to obtain a college degree. As a teenager she immigrated from the state of Guerrero, Mexico to Mabton. After earning her diploma, she worked as a substitute teacher for the Toppenish School District, and worked as a medical interpreter helping injured farmworkers, communicate with their medical providers. This work led her to La Casa Hogar, where she volunteered teaching citizenship classes. Solis says the experience was so rewarding that she joined the team as a part-time employee and later took on the program’s full-time coordinator position.

In her role, Ms. Solis earned a legal credential through the Department of Justice to successfully support immigrants to complete the long and arduous process of becoming United States citizens, which takes months or even years from start to finish. To apply for citizenship an applicant must first be a lawful permanent resident (a status that, by law, many immigrants cannot access) for a minimum of five years, and be in compliance with numerous requirements. During the interview, individuals must also pass English, U.S. history and civics tests.

“Immigration law is very complex and intimidating. Our goal is to build our students’ confidence to navigate the naturalization process and achieve their goal of becoming U.S. citizens. We teach the rights, responsibilities, and the importance of civic engagement as citizens. We work with each person, meet them where they are, and support them from the initial eligibility screening through their oath ceremonies,” said Solis.

Under Ms. Solis’s leadership, the program has grown from her one originally part-time position to an office of four full-time staff members and 50 volunteers. She used her Heritage education to write the program’s first comprehensive citizenship curriculum in 2016, complete with clear learning objectives, evaluation processes and methods to share students’ progress. Moreover, the number of people who completed the program and are now citizens rose from a few hundred to now over 1,200– single-handedly representing 10% of the entire eligible population in Yakima County.

Outside of her work commitments, Ms. Solis was just appointed in July of 2020 as a Board member of the Yakima YWCA and a member of the City of Yakima’s Community Integration Committee. She also volunteers with the Yakima Yoga Collective and devoted 200 hours this year as a participant in the Collective’s first cohort of bilingual yoga instructors. Ms. Solis is an avid outdoors-woman and has summited several of the region’s volcanic mountains, serving as a role model among Latina women exploring the outdoors and in mountaineering. In 2019, Ms. Solis received the 39 under 39 recognition from the Yakima Herald-Republic.

To set up an interview with Magaly Solis, please contact Davidson Mance, Heritage University media relations coordinator, at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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Heritage University to safely reopen campus for classes for the fall 2020 semester

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Heritage University to partially reopen campus for classes for the fall 2020 semester

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University President Dr. Andrew Sund announced a plan to partially reopen campus for fall 2020 semester classes, at the main campus in Toppenish and its regional site at Columbia Basin College (CBC) in the Tri-Cities. Dr. Sund said one of the developments that led to this decision is Washington State governor Jay Inslee’s proclamation allowing colleges and universities to reopen. Sund also said Yakima County’s recent progress in containing the spread of the virus, resulting in its classification in Phase 1.5, is another reason for the partial reopening.

Dr. Sund said there is another set of circumstances for Heritage students that require a campus presence. “Heritage exists to serve students who face difficulties accessing higher education for various reasons, one of which is that they want to stay in this wonderful valley we call home. However, many students do not have the conditions in their homes to conduct significant academic work. Internet connectivity is unreliable and space is limited – especially if they have siblings in the home all of whom need quiet study space and access to high-speed Internet,” Sund said. “For them, access to higher education means coming to campus.”

Under Heritage’s safe reopening plan approved by the Yakima Health District, many courses will offer a combination of face-to-face instruction as well as remote learning. When on campus, steps will be taken to ensure that class sizes are kept small to allow for safe social distancing. In many cases, classes will be divided into subsections where one group comes to class and the other learns online one day, and then the groups switch for the next day. Students will also determine their ability to come to campus based on health-related concerns for themselves and their family members.

The majority of student support activities will be offered online. However, students who want in-person tutoring at the university’s Academic Skills Center will be accommodated by setting up Plexiglas dividers between the tutor and student.

Dr. Sund said every precaution will be taken to ensure the safety of all students, faculty and staff while on campus. “While we recognize that it is important to open our campus for instruction because of the needs of our students, we must do so while following the strictest safety protocols,” Sund said. Other protocols include the requiring of wearing facemasks at all times and the constant cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing of classrooms and other locations in use.

“Above all else, we must continue to lead with our mission, always acting in the best interest of our students across all aspects of their beings, their health and safety and their determination to continue to move forward with their lives and education,” said Sund.

More details on the safe opening plan can be found at heritage.edu/coronavirus.

To request an interview, please contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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Mabton School District receives $5,000 grant from Yakima Valley Partners for Education to help students impacted by Covid-19

Mabton School District receives $5,000 grant from Yakima Valley Partners for Education to help students impacted by Covid-19

Toppenish, Wash. – The Mabton School District has received a $5,000 grant from Yakima Valley Partners for Education (YVPE) to help 850 students impacted by the coronavirus. The district will use the money for school supply kits that will be distributed to students through its school meal distribution program which delivers more than 6,000 meals to kids at 73 locations across the district.

Dr. Joey Castilleja, the superintendent of the Mabton School District said his district was hard hit by school closures due to the virus. “Without a lot of notice, we were all suddenly expected to attend and teach school online. Families were just not ready for such an endeavor. Things as simple as scissors and glue sticks are basic school supplies that kids now need at home. These supplies mean a lot to our kids,” said Castilleja. “By providing students with the tools they need to complete their school assignments, they have one less barrier to overcome due to Covid-19.”

Save the Children secured $2,500 and obtained a matching grant from First Book, a non-profit based in Washington D.C. for a total of $5,000 for the kits. Save the Children is one of the more than a dozen partners of YVPE, a coalition formed by Heritage University to address the challenges of educational attainment faced by communities in Yakima County across the cradle-to-career continuum. This collaborative approach is known as Collective Impact and is already showing promise in the lower Yakima Valley.

Save the Children, which operates in more than 200 rural communities across 13 states, joined YVPE through its partnership with the Grandview School District. In Grandview, Save the Children offers its “Early Steps to School Success” home-visiting program to children ages three years old and younger and their parents. Save the Children, a national leader in early childhood education, has leveraged its resources in support of children and families throughout the lower Yakima Valley.

For more information, contact Suzy Diaz, Heritage University – Collective Impact Director at Diaz_S@Heritage.edu or (509) 480-9354.

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First-ever virtual “Bounty of the Valley” Scholarship Dinner raises more than $817,000 for student scholarships

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University’s 34th annual “Bounty of the Valley” Scholarship Dinner, which was held virtually this past Saturday evening, brought in $734,755 during the event. Gifts coming in over the four days following the program have resulted in an additional $83,750, for a total of more than $817,000 as of Wednesday. The gifts will be given directly to students as scholarships this coming year.

The premier fundraiser for student scholarships at Heritage University, normally held at the Heritage campus in Toppenish, had to be done differently this year due to coronavirus limitations. It became a one-hour television event aired in central Washington on KAPP/KVEW-TV and live-streamed on the Heritage website.

The program featured many video segments of Heritage students sharing their Heritage experience and describing the ways scholarships made their dreams of going to college possible. Student speaker Maria Soto shared her story – that because of her parents’ sacrifices and scholarships made possible by the university’s supporters, as well as her determination, she was able to earn a degree in social work from Heritage. She talked about her goal now of helping the area’s agriculture workers thrive.

Heritage alumni also appeared and gave insight into the careers they’ve been able to pursue as a result of earning their degrees.

Several longtime corporate sponsors and individual supporters also appeared on the program. Many said they’d first given to Heritage after learning about the numerous obstacles students face on their educational journey and have continued to do so over the years. They encouraged people watching the program to contribute as well.

Dana Eliason, Heritage’s Senior Director of Donor Relations, expressed elation at the results of the first-ever virtual event: “Our team realized in March that we were going to have to do this critical fundraiser entirely differently this year.  And friends of the university recognized the importance of responding with their contributions. We are so grateful they responded as they did.”

 

Heritage University’s President Dr. Andrew Sund, said he is thankful that the event introduced Heritage to a wide audience of people who may not have known a lot about the university or how  students’ educational goals depend on a wide range of donors.

 

“In addition to being able to reach our existing friends, we’ve made many new friends across the valley and the state this year,” said Sund. “I’m hopeful they have found a place in their hearts for Heritage.”

The virtual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship dinner can be viewed in its entirety on the Heritage University website at Heritage.edu/SD2020. Donations to student scholarships can be made on the same page by clicking on the “Support Me” button. For more information, contact Dana Eliason at (509) 865-0441 or Eliason_D@Heritage.edu.

 

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Heritage University to present the annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner on KAPP and KVEW TV Saturday, June 6 at 7pm

HU President Andrew Sund as he appeared through a camera viewfinder during the recording of segments for the virtual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner (Ross Courtney Photos).

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Heritage University to present the annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner on KAPP and KVEW TV Saturday, June 6 at 7pm

Toppenish, Wash. – For 34 years, the annual Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner has been hosted on the Heritage University campus in Toppenish on the first Saturday of June.  This year because of the coronavirus safety protocols in effect, the University has had to create a virtual scholarship dinner.  The one-hour event will air on KAPP/KVEW TV in Yakima and in the Tri-Cities as well as stream online at heritage.edu/sd2020 on Saturday, June 6 at 7 pm.

The Bounty of the Valley Scholarship Dinner is the University’s most important fundraiser of the year.  All of the proceeds go directly to student scholarships in the coming academic year and according to David Wise, Vice President of University Advancement the need for scholarships has never been greater. “In the changed world that we find ourselves in at the moment, so many students and their families have lost their jobs, which they count on to help pay for college.  In order for our students to stay in school, the need for scholarship support will be more critical now than ever.”

The event will feature stories from Heritage students and alumni, as well as appearances from many community, business, and political leaders. Wise is optimistic about the event and its ability to raise the funds needed.  “If there is one thing I know about the Yakima Valley it is about the generosity of the people who live here.  I think it is the nature of this special place we call home.  There is a pride in this valley and a desire to help the community thrive.  They see education as vital to continued growth and demonstrate their belief in the Heritage mission through their giving.

Dana Eliason, Senior Director of Donor Relations at Heritage is usually the chief architect of the annual dinner and was both melancholy and excited about this year’s virtual event.  “I will so miss seeing all of our amazing friends who gather on campus each year in June.  But I know in my heart it is not the dinner that they come for, it is the stories of our students.  That is why they come each year and that is why they give.  The students they invest in go on to contribute to our wonderful community in meaningful ways.  That is the dividend our donors reap from their giving.”

President of Heritage University, Dr. Andrew Sund thinks that not only does the virtual scholarship event have the potential to raise the necessary scholarship funds needed for students, but has the potential to introduce Heritage to a wide audience across the valley, who may have heard about Heritage but not know much about it. “I will miss the annual gathering on campus, it is always such a joyful evening.  But I think we will make many new friends across the valley as a result.  I know they will be encouraged by what they learn, and I hope, find a new place in their hearts for Heritage.”

For more information, contact Davidson Mance, Director of Media Relations at Heritage University, (509) 969-6084 or mance_d@heritage.edu.

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New Yakima Valley education initiative secures $11,000 in grants to help Yakima Valley families impacted by Covid-19

Toppenish, Wash. – A $10,000 grant secured by the Yakima Valley Partners for Education (YVPE) will be used to help 220 families in the Lower Yakima Valley impacted by the Covid-19 virus. The Latino Community Fund of Washington, one of the members of YVPE, secured the grant from the Communities of Color Coalition, and will use the money to give food vouchers to families in Mabton, Grandview and Sunnyside hardest hit by business closures due to the virus. Fiesta Foods in Sunnyside is also providing $1,000 to help with this emergency relief.

Micaela Razo, project manager for Latino Community Fund in central Washington, said many low-income migrants in Mabton, Grandview and Sunnyside now have no incomes to feed their families after losing their jobs. “These families have no other way to provide for their loved ones, and are in need of the economic support this grant will bring,” said Razo.

Latino Community Fund is a member of YVPE, an organization formed by Heritage University to tackle the challenges of educational attainment faced by communities in Yakima County across the cradle to career continuum – also known as collective impact.

In administering this specific grant, the organization will work with the school districts of Grandview, Mabton and Sunnyside to identify the families impacted by Covid-19 to provide them with food vouchers they can use immediately.

Heritage University to implement distance learning in response to Coronavirus concerns

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Heritage University to implement distance learning in response to Coronavirus concerns

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is taking precautions to protect the health of its students, faculty and staff, their family members as well as the community beyond campus. Today Heritage President Dr. Andrew Sund announced protocols that follow closely the guidelines of the Yakima Health District, the Washington State Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control, to minimize the spread of the virus.

The first will be to extend Spring Break for undergraduate students through Sunday, March 22, 2020. There will be no classes the week beginning March 16, 2020. “During this time, we expect faculty and students to prepare to continue their programs using available online platforms, making other arrangements for distance learning or other mechanisms that maintain social distancing protocols,” said Dr. Sund.

Sund said beginning March 23, 2020, Heritage will deliver almost all instruction online for a two-week period through April 5, 2020. “Instructors will communicate with students electronically on how to obtain study materials, turn in assignments, and participate in a remote instruction environment,” he said.

Dr. Sund also announced all events taking place on campus between March 13, 2020, and April 30, 2020 will either be canceled or postponed. Decisions will be made whether to hold events scheduled for after April 30 as changing conditions warrant.

As a point of social responsibility, Dr. is strongly discouraging Heritage community members from traveling or attending events with large numbers of individuals. “We are taking these measures so that we may minimize the spread of the virus.”

For more information, contact Davidson Mance, media relations coordinator at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@heritage.edu.

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Heritage University to offer Master of Education in Reading which prepares teachers to help students overcome dyslexia and other reading disorders

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Heritage University to offer Master of Education in Reading that will prepare teachers to help students overcome dyslexia and other reading disorders

Toppenish, Wash. – Heritage University is now offering a master’s and undergraduate degree, as well as a certificate program that prepares teachers to help students overcome dyslexia and other reading challenges. The Master of Education in Inclusive Education: Dyslexia, ESOL and Cultural Competence provides students with in-depth training  on the theories, practices, pedagogy and technology in the field of reading education.

Kari Terjeson, chair of the Department of Teacher Education, said the program was developed after educators and school administrators told her there was a great need for expertise in this field. According to Terjeson, “Candidates who complete the program will know  how to identify, evaluate and deliver specialized instruction to students who, for reasons of language barriers or learning disorders, are struggling to learn how to read and write.”

According to Terjeson, the M.Ed. in Reading degree program at Heritage was developed according to the Washington Educator Standards, along with the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading from the International Dyslexia Association and the International Literacy Association. “Reading and writing are fundamental skills that all students need to build a lifetime of success, and this program will train teachers to help their students overcome their challenges and build their love of learning,” she said.

The flexibility of this master’s degree allows students to complete classes in on-campus lectures, online classes, and show competence in subject matter, which involves completing a portfolio assignment and an objective exam proving mastery. Students completing the program coursework or demonstrating proficiency and receive a passing score on the necessary Washington Educator Skills Test (WEST-E) and/or National Evaluation Series (NES) can earn endorsements in ELL/BLE and Reading, which qualifies them to teach reading across all grade levels within their area of concentration.  A Reading or ELL/BLE only endorsement option is available for teachers who already hold a master’s degree. Those completing the program will be able to demonstrate several learning outcomes, which ultimately act in the best interests of struggling readers and readers with dyslexia or other reading disorders.

The Master of Education in Reading program is open to current educators who hold a Bachelor of Arts in Education or a Bachelor of Education. For more information, contact Shari Foster at (509) 865-8623 or Foster_S@Heritage.edu, or Kari Terjeson at Terjeson_K@Heritage.edu. For interviews, contact Davidson Mance at (509) 969-6084 or Mance_D@Heritage.edu.

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