Our Backstory - Eastside Pathways
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Our Backstory

The success of our children is a direct reflection of the health of our community. All of us
must work together to ensure all our children have the opportunity to prosper.

~ Bill Henningsgaard, Founder, Board Chair, and Executive Director, Eastside Pathways

In January 2011, Bill attended a school meeting (a briefing by Bellevue Schools Foundation) at Lake Hills Elementary School and was dismayed to learn that not all children in his own community had access to opportunities to succeed in school and life. Barriers such as income, race, and culture were preventing children from reaching their potential.


There were organizations already working for children, but the achievement/opportunity gaps continued to exist. What was needed was a different approach – a framework that focused on working collaboratively to change systems that would give children the environment and tools to succeed.


That understanding sowed the seed of what is now Eastside Pathways – a community-wide partnership that follows the collective impact framework and is working to close the persisting inequities and help every child thrive, cradle to career.


The journey has been challenging but driven by a small dedicated staff and a big group of committed volunteers, Eastside Pathways has celebrated some successful outcomes of their work.

Early beginnings: Standing in front, Bill Henningsgaard, Susan Sullivan, and Janet Levinger with Jeff Edmondson (then with StriveTogether) at the back, second from right and John Kania (author of the collective impact white paper author) on his right.

Brief Timeline

4thPlus Meeting

In June the first team, a group of volunteers and members from Bellevue, including the Bellevue School District, City of Bellevue, and the Bellevue Schools Foundation met to begin work. In December the organization, Eastside Pathways, was formally awarded the 501(c)(3) and became a nonprofit organization.

Strawberry Festival 2012

The first campaign focused on 3rd grade reading. Eastside Pathways joined over 100 other communities in submitting a Community Solutions Action Plan (CSAP) as part of the national Grade Level Reading Challenge (GLRC) with the goal of ensuring that 95% of Bellevue’s children are proficient at reading by third grade.  Twelve Eastside Pathways partner organizations and many community volunteers contributed to the plan. Read more.

Baseline Report_2013

The first baseline report was presented to the community. It focused on the importance of data to set goals and plan collaboratives, and summarized the work of the partnership and its impact on children and youth in the Bellevue community.

Summer Planning Team_2014-02

Formation of Transitions and Career Pathways collaboratives under the umbrella of the College and Career Readiness Initiative – these replaced the 4th Plus collaborative and focused on improving opportunities for youth from fourth grade to age 26. The goal of this initiative was to ensure that all Bellevue students are prepared for postsecondary and work success. Read more 

News_2015-06_Courageous Conversations 1

The organization picked up steam as the first hired staff for the backbone provide a more structured working environment. Racial equity was formalized with the setting up of EPRET. The partnership also took a more structured role with the formation of the Partner Leadership Committee. Read some end of year reflections.

News_2015-06_Courageous Conversations

Eastside Pathways invested in deepening their adaptive leadership and racial equity understanding to better work within the diverse community. The Eastside Pathways 101 event helped in creating awareness about the work. Twelve organizations signed on as partners and four individuals stepped into leadership roles in a collaborative. Read more

News_2016-11_Promotores 3

The Promotores Project was a great success as eight promotores were trained to lead change in their community. Expanding our geographic reach, we welcomed Lake Washington School District as our partner in June.

We believe it is our responsibility to serve and support all children and youth in our community in an open-minded and dignified manner.