In the fall of 2010, with the great recession in full swing, VAN was invited by Community Action to co-convene a series of community conversations and explore ways to support the most vulnerable Washington County residents. Washington County Thrives was born out of these conversations, and though the economy looks very different today, about 1 in 8 county residents still live in abject poverty. Thrives is working on changing the conditions that prevent people from getting ahead.
In early 2022, our region’s behavioral health providers approached VAN and asked us to shine a light on the crisis their sector is experiencing. In response, VAN assembled a core group of providers and hosted a Behavioral Health Workforce Summit that engaged nearly 90 stakeholders in Washington County to consider creative responses to address this critical challenge. The summit served as a primer and forum to connect stakeholders who are working in and outside of the traditional behavioral health system. It also served as a valuable way to explore other opportunities and provide insight into how we can best strengthen our behavioral health sector and address the unfolding crisis that impacts the community.
In the weeks following the summit, the Behavioral Health Initiative began to coalesce, and with support from Washington County Thrives, VAN is making great strides to advance the initiative with key partners in the county.
Vision Action Network and community partners Adelante Mujeres, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Bienestar, and Coalition of Communities of Color came together to advance racial equity in Washington County and improve outcomes for people of color in education, economic well-being, and civic engagement.
From January through April 2019, we held two county-wide forums and six culturally-specific community conversations that gathered over 500 people from local governments, nonprofits, businesses, and under-represented communities.
Key findings reinforced the need to build capacity and create a solid infrastructure for communities of color in the County. As a result, the Collaborative submitted a proposal to the county which resulted in the REC being a grant recipient to formalize the Racial Equity Collaborative initiative which is focused on working towards achieving those key findings.
Creciendo Juntos (Growing Together)
Creciendo Juntos was a collaborative focused on Latino families in western Washington County. Working with culturally-specific organizations, such as Adelante Mujeres, Bienestar, and Centro Cultural, along with others including Community Action, Hillsboro School District and Early Learning Washington County, Creciendo Juntos provided support to Latino parents who, like all parents, want their children to succeed in school and life. Through leadership development programs and coordinated care, Creciendo Juntos worked with Latino parents to create a strong foundation from which they could advocate for themselves and their children.
Homeless Cost Study
Vision Action Network and the Washington County Department of Housing Services co-convened an Advisory Committee to direct the design and implementation of a cost study to measure the financial impact of homelessness on the various systems in Washington County. The study aimed to estimate the cost incurred by various systems (hospitals, law enforcement, EMS, shelters, corrections, etc.) on services that do not address the root causes of homelessness. Understanding these major cost-drivers would be a step towards determining where resources could be reallocated to more effectively support the chronically homeless and ultimately reduce the costs associated with their care.
In 2006, almost 67,000 Washington County residents (13% of the population) were 60 or older. That number was expected to increase 75% to over 117,000 within 15 years, presenting a vast array of needs, challenges, and opportunities for communities, so VAN launched an Aging Initiative to support community planning to address them.
Washington County Nonprofit Network
The Washington County Nonprofit Network grew out of the Philanthropy Exploration in Washington County study conducted by VAN in 2008. One of the major findings of this study was the limited capacity of Washington County nonprofits in the area of fund development. To address this finding, the study’s Advisory Committee started the Washington County Nonprofit Network to provide opportunities for local nonprofits to network, collaborate, develop skills and build capacity.
While the Washington County Nonprofit Network is no longer a separate initiative of VAN, we continue to convene and collaborate with the nonprofit community to help advance their missions and strengthen the Washington County community.