What can we do together to advance the health and well-being of all young people in our region? Visit TOGETHER!’s blog to enjoy updates on our work and information on issues concerning families and young people.

Cynthia Spencer
Cynthia Spencer
Cynthia Spencer's Blog

Yelm Graduates!

TOGETHER! is proud to be a partner in the Graduate Yelm! initiative, which is being lead by Yelm Community Schools.

Graduate Yelm! is a community-wide effort to advance graduation readiness at all times, starting in kindergarten and continuing until students walk across the graduation stage. Alongside the City of Yelm, Yelm Community Schools and TOGETHER! will be working with other community partners towards the goal of achieving a 100% graduation rate. 

Students who graduate and move into a post-secondary education, whether college, trade & technical schools, the military, apprenticeships or other work development programs, significantly increase their employment opportunities and career earnings. We know that the graduation readiness mindset begins as early as kindergarten, so our goal is to support the entire Yelm community and school district in fostering this mindset in their students from the very beginning.

As a partner with Yelm Community Schools, TOGETHER! provides opportunities for family engagement and support that make the difference for struggling students. It's hard to focus on graduation readiness when your basic needs are not being met at home or at school, so we work with students and families to make sure that every child has what they need to be successful at school and in life: enough to eat, adequate school supplies, access to needed healthcare, a way to get to school, and all the other big and little things that come up every day.

Thank you, Yelm Community Schools and City of Yelm for being our partners in this work. We are so excited to work with you. 

All About Rural Transit

Did you know that TOGETHER! was a partner in making transportation accessible in rural areas of our region? Alongside Intercity Transit and Thurston Regional Planning Council, we support Rural Transit, which connects the communities of Rochester, Tenino, Bucoda, Rainier and Yelm, and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation to the greater tri-city area of Tumwater, Olympia and Lacey. Rural Transit connects to Twin Transit in Lewis County and Intercity Transit in Thurston County.

As of June 4th, Rural Transit offers more mid-day trip on Routes 3 and 4 to Chehalis Tribal Center and Centralia, as well as direct, no transfer trips to Centralia for veterans. Rides cost $1 each way and are free for veterans, active duty military and children under 5 years old. Rural Transit also accepts passes from Intercity Transit, Twin Transit, ORCA and STAR.

Access to services is a necessary part of advancing the health and wellbeing of all young people, and many youth and families in our area depend on public transportation in order to access education, healthcare, employment and social services. We are proud to be able to support this partnership with other organizations in our area.

If you'd like to know more or help us spread the word, please email with any questions, comments or suggestions, or to request fliers and schedules for your community or place of business.

Rainier Community Cares Summer Programming

A well-connected community is a safe and healthy community. That's what we believe. In Rainier, TOGETHER! has supported the Rainier Community Cares (RCC) coalition since 2011 in order to foster positive opportunities for youth and family to gather and connect in drug- and alcohol-free environments.

This summer, RCC is planning several events in Rainier to bring the community together for family-friendly fun and community support. We will be showing two movies in Wilkowski Park, starting at dusk:

July 6th: A Wrinkle in Time

August 17th: A Dog's Purpose

Then, on August 29th, join us for a Resource Fair at Rainier Middle School from 3-5pm to find and access community resources and support systems, all in one place. More information about community partners and resources will be available on our website and Facebook page soon.

We hope you have a safe and healthy summer, and we'll see you at the movies and resource fair!

Intercultural Foundations Work Continues!

TOGETHER! is excited to be moving into the next phase of our partnership work with YWCA of Olympia's Intercultural Foundations program. Since October 2016, TOGETHER! and Intercultural Foundations have been working together to assess and improve our individual and organizational capacities for building inclusion and equity in our community. This coming phase will consist of reviewing our policies, procedures and organizational structure with our Board of Directors and the Intercultural Foundations team and making revisions as needed to ensure alignment with our values of equity, mobilization and systems change.

from YWCA of Olympia:

"The Intercultural Foundations program of the YWCA of Olympia is built on the belief that if we invest in tools to build intercultural competence, we invest in a better world for all. We consult with local organizations to assess and improve their culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion, at both the individual and institutional levels. By providing leaders in our community with the necessary tools to work across cultural differences, we create space for the perspectives of folks who are most impacted by marginalization to be centered and heard.

The Intercultural Foundations team is thankful to have had TOGETHER! as one of our first project partners. With this group, we have created a space to probe the depths of our socialization, revealing how implicit bias and internalized oppression impact our ability to make change in the community in an effective and equitable way. The commitment of TOGETHER!’s leadership to the process of deep internal assessment and structural change has been crucial to the program’s success, and serves as a model for our future projects."

We feel the same way! Thank you, Intercultural Foundations, for your guidance and support through this transformative process. Your service to our community is truly invaluable.

Notice of Intent to Apply: Expansion of 21st Century Community Learning Centers

This is the official notice of TOGETHER!’s intent to apply for funding for the expansion of our 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The new grant will cover two middle schools in North Thurston Public Schools, serving approximately 100 students with before- and after-school academic enrichment programming, including several community partnerships.  This is a competitive grant process with funding status to be determined in August 2018. Our elementary school Club House programs will be unaffected by the status of this grant through the 2018-19 school year. If you are interested in reviewing the grant in its entirety, please contact Meagan Darrow at The full grant will also be posted HERE after the submission deadline, which is 4pm on Thursday, May 24th.

Awards of Excellence Returns on May 19th, 2018

TOGETHER!’s annual Awards of Excellence is an opportunity to honor those youth whose grace and strength shine through the stories of success they share with us. In the last two years since the event’s return, we’ve awarded youth who have balanced their academic and career goals with family responsibilities and personal circumstances. Awards of Excellence honorees parent young children; support friends, family members, and themselves through addiction or mental health issues; and respond to injustice in their community by bringing people together to heal and take action.

These young people are exceptional not only because of their accomplishments, but because of the often-unseen challenges that they have met and struggled through on the way. Whether they face barriers due to their race, class, gender, ability, immigration status, system involvement or family structure, what Awards of Excellence honorees have in common is the resilience that defines their leadership.   

Two awards will be granted based on the theme of “Service Above Self.” These will be awarded to youth who have shown leadership in service to their families and communities. Too often, acts of service that occur outside of traditional volunteer opportunities can be overlooked for recognition. We ask our nominators to look for those students who perform acts of service in their immediate communities, supporting their peers and family members, whether or not they have the time and resources to volunteer in traditional ways.

We’d like to thank Gateway Rotary for being the Presenting Sponsor of this event for the third year in a row. We are proud to continue this tradition for another year and to provide the recognition of achievement that is so vital to the continued success of our youth.

If you know a young person who you think qualifies for this award, you can nominate them here. The survey will close on March 31st, 2018.

Our partners at Tumwater School District are deepening their equity and inclusion work after a racist incident that occurred at a Veteran’s Day assembly.

By now, many of you are probably aware of the controversy that surrounded George Washington Bush Middle School’s Veteran’s Day assembly on Thursday, November 9th. At the assembly, a Confederate flag was displayed as part of a program featuring the chronological history of American flags from 1775 to the present.

Bush Middle School is one of the schools in Tumwater served by TOGETHER!’s Community Schools program. TOGETHER! holds equity as a core value in all of our work. Racism is a barrier to the success of our children and, as such, fighting against systemic racism is necessary to our mission of advancing the health and well-being of all young people.

The Confederate flag was never an official flag of the United States of America. Rather, it represents a movement within this country that continues, to this day, to threaten the safety of communities of color.  We agree with the district’s position that its inclusion in the assembly was historically inaccurate as well as deeply insensitive.

This incident shines a light on the importance of addressing systemic racism, not only for Tumwater Schools, but for our entire community.  The precipice of change in which we find ourselves compels us to focus on collaboration work that is focused on solutions with all of our partners. TOGETHER!’s role within the district has been and will continue to be a supportive one. Through extensive conversation with district leadership, we are deepening our collaborative partnership to support their growth towards providing a truly safe, inclusive, and equitable learning environment.

We do not expect this change to take place immediately or without difficulty. Our commitment to the district and the community is that we will continue doing the work that is so important to us, ensuring that all students have an equal chance to succeed in school and in life.



Meagan Darrow & Meghan Sullivan Goldenberger

Thank You for Giving Local!

This month, TOGETHER! participated in the first ever Give Local online giving campaign, and we are amazed by the results! Fifty of you donated to our campaign, raising $3,550 to support the expansion of Community Schools into Rochester and Yelm. Your support helps us create more school-based Community Resource Centers, connect more students and families with needed resources, and build more supportive communities for all our young people. Thank you! We can't do this work without you.

We'd also like to thank the Community Foundation for coordinating Give Local; Coldwell Banker, Greene Realty, and Olympia Federal Savings for sponsoring the campaign; South Sound Partners for Philanthropy for sponsoring Giving Bonus Wednesdays; and the Dawkins Charitable Trust for providing a matching grant, ensuring that your donations will go even further. 

These funds will support programs like Right From the Start, which coordinates story times and play groups for children ages 0-5 while coordinating resources for their families, and Yelm Community Schools, which connects middle school students and their families in Yelm to networks of support to ensure they have everything they need to succeed in school. All of our Community Schools programs share, at their core, our values of equity, community mobilization, and systems change. We believe that all students deserve an equal chance to succeed in school and in life, and we are committed to building systems that work for everyone. But we can't do it alone -- your support means so much. Thank you for being a part of our community!

Right from the Start Joins TOGETHER!'s Family of Programs

TOGETHER! is thrilled to welcome Right from the Start, and early learning center that serves families with children ages 0-5 in Rochester, WA, to our family of programs. Right from the Start, previously overseen by The United Way of Thurston County, engages whole families and communities with educational opportunities for parents as well as children, family engagement and community building events, Parents as Teachers group connections, and referrals to community resources.

Services like weekly story times, play groups, and parenting classes welcome families to the center and allow Nancy Villanueva, program coordinator, the opportunity to assess need and coordinate services for families. Every family that attends a Right from the Start program gets connected to a supportive community where they can access support and resources they might not have known were available. 

Family engagement and community partnerships are the cornerstone of TOGETHER!’s work for youth, so Right from the Start is a perfect fit with our organization. Access to high-quality early learning is crucial for ensuring that students are ready for kindergarten, setting them up for success through the rest of their K-12 years. Right from the Start not only makes early learning accessible, but provides comprehensive services that support the whole child and whole family. It’s the kind of work that TOGETHER! is proud to partner on, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to do this work in Rochester.