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Our Goals

The Portland Workforce Alliance (PWA) is an independent, nonprofit organization that was created in 2005. The goals of the Portland Workforce Alliance are to:

1. Build an Educated, Skilled Workforce

Meet the region’s workforce needs by helping young Oregonians find educational paths to family-wage jobs and good careers.


2. Partner with Business & Industry to Educate Students about Career Opportunities

Develop experiences ( career days, internships, mentorship programs,etc.)  for high school students  that help to motivate them to succeed academically and continue their education after high school.


3. Increase the High School Graduation Rate

Many studies conclude that students are far more likely to stay in school and graduate if they see the relevance of their education and have a relationship with a caring adult. 



Data & Research

Oregon ranks near the bottom of the national heap for on-time high school graduation. Only 69% of Oregon students, and 67% of Portland Public Schools students, graduated on time in 2013.

More than half of employers say they have trouble finding qualified candidates for job

Young people in Oregon are less educated than their parents’ generation, a trend that will worsen unless college completion rates improve.


Research finds that relevance is a critical factor in student success and in helping students transition to the next level.

1. Career-Related Learning Helps Students Succeed

From the National Conference of State Legislatures, dropout prevention:
“Studies show that aligning high school standards to college and workplace expectations is a critical step toward giving students a solid foundation in the academic, social and workplace skills needed for success in postsecondary education or a career.”

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2. Why Career Education Works: A Primer

From the College & Career Readiness & Success Center at the nonpartisan American Institutes for Research (2013):
"Career education replaces the old method of vocational education, which featured low-level courses and single electives. High-quality career and technical education involves “academically rigorous, integrated and sequenced programs of study that align with and lead to postsecondary education. These programs provide students with opportunities to acquire the competencies required in today’s workplace – such as critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, innovation, teamwork and communication – and to learn about different careers by experiencing work and workplaces.“

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3. "The Silent Epidemic" : Perspectives of High School Dropouts

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation -- Excerpt from the Executive Summary:
"While most dropouts blame themselves for failing to graduate, there are things that they say schools can do to help them finish: Four out of five students (81%) said that there should be more opportunities for real world learning and some in the focus groups called for more experiential learning. They said students need to see the connection between school and getting a good job."

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4. "Reclaiming the American Dream" : The Bridgespan Group

"Academic preparation is necessary but not sufficient, however, in helping low-income students enroll in and graduate from college. Expectations about college attendance are important with one in particular standing out: a student's expectation that a college degree will be essential to pursue his or her desired career. Students who make this connection are six times more likely to earn their degree than those who did not."

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