Approach

In November 2009, the residents of the Vernonia School District overwhelmingly approved a $13 million bond to serve as a down payment toward replacing all of the town’s schools. The bond adds an additional burden to a community that is already grappling with so many challenges.

The Vernonia School District and the City of Vernonia worked with Oregon Solutions—a governor-appointed task force representing federal, state and local government, private industry, civic organizations, and philanthropies—to find an appropriate and high and dry location for the Vernonia school system. The school is built above the city’s floodplain in a central location that is walkable and accessible from other parts of Vernonia. The new site, at Spencer Park, is partially city-owned and far removed from sewage facilities and other potential infrastructure dangers.

Community leaders from Vernonia and across the Northwest have come together, committed to restoring the success of the schools in Vernonia. The campaign’s leadership includes the school district, local, state and federal elected leaders, local and statewide business and philanthropic leaders and the continued involvement of the Governor-appointed Oregon Solutions task force. These leaders are seeking significant public funding and are engaging Oregon and national foundations, businesses, associations and individuals to make philanthropic grants and gifts.