The Centralia Community Foundation — an organization that aims to improve life for Centralians — celebrated the grand opening of its new downtown office on Thursday.
“A couple years ago, I was hoping that we would find a permanent location,” said Dan Rich, Centralia Community Foundation board president. “I knew that that was one of our most valuable tools to complete our mission, was having a place for not just us, but for other community members that were asking to help … to come and meet with us, as well as also potential donors. With a permanent location, we can say we are meeting in our location — and it’s our location.”
The CCF’s new office is located at the Centralia Train Depot, on the second floor of the south building. The CCF held an open house from 4-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, with board members and community partners.
“This location was centrally located,” said Rich of why the CCF chose the space. “If you ask somebody to come down and see us — and you’re at Centralia train station — they only need to go to the tracks, and go down the tracks until they find us. It’s a great location, beautiful spot. … It accommodated us in not just an office space, but also a meeting area and a place to bring donors and places to do our community workshops.”
The CCF was created in 2016 to improve the quality of life in Centralia. The Foundation’s goal, according to its website, is to create a sustainable donor base to support community needs.
The Foundation’s first priority is to improve education in Centralia, with its Schools of Excellence Initiative. The Foundation partnered with the Centralia School District and Centralia College and formed the CCF Education Committee.
“The collaboration between the Centralia Community Foundation and the school district, that’s paramount,” Rich said. “The Schools of Excellence Initiative, that’s our no. one goal to get that completed. But with completing that, again, goes into involving the whole community and doing those items we need to have help with. We can’t do it all ourselves.”
In late 2017, TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Grants Economic and Community Development Board awarded the CCF a three-year, $2 million grant for education.
The CCF Education Committee is working with the Centralia School District and the BERC Group — an independent evaluation, research and consulting firm — to build a three-year plan to enhance the Centralia schools.
“Our first priority is facilitating the BERC Group’s study, and training and coaching at the school district,” said Mark Dulin, Education Committee chair. “BERC is a, regionally, very noted educational consultant and coaching companies working at Chehalis and Centralia College now, too. We are channeling grant money from TransAlta to the BERC Group and we are in touch with the school district and making sure they get the access.”
The CCF funded two new college and career counselors for the district that began in fall 2018. In addition, Dulin said the BERC Group has done 22 training sessions with various groups of teachers since early October 2018. Dulin said the BERC Group is currently trying to get a read on teachers’ buy in and acceptance of the initiative.
“The BERC Group has noted expertise in engaging students,” Dulin said.
Rich said the foundation has fundraising initiatives coming up, but that they are “secret squirrel items” for now.
“That fundraising that we want to do, it had to do with this location here,” Rich said. “What it is we need to do, the Community Foundation, is having a certain place so that people — when we have that major fundraiser and bring them into Centralia — they know right where to go to sign up for what we are doing.”