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Eastside Academy: accelerating toward a solution for vulnerable youth.

· News and Updates

Each year in Washington State, approximately 10,000 children are expelled from our public schools. Suffering from poverty, trauma, crime, abuse, and addiction, they are our most vulnerable youth. Yet our schools cannot not meet their needs. The results? These young people suffer dramatically higher rates of homelessness, drug abuse, suicide and incarceration.

Our loss is profound. And the economic cost is staggering: every expelled child costs us nearly a million dollars: about $250,000 in lost tax revenue and another $700,000 for lost productivity, increased crime, need for social services, and burden on our health care system. By failing to graduate these students, Washington State creates a new $10 billion liability each and every year.

There are few, if any, options for youth that other schools have given up on. For example, in 2010, the Bellevue School District closed its only public alternative high school, leaving struggling teens in the district without options.

But Eastside Academy, in Bellevue WA, has a tremendously promising solution. They have served over 500 youth since their founding in 2001 with comprehensive services: housing, counseling, support, spiritual guidance, and the love and kindness of their dedicated staff. During this time, over 400 Eastside students have graduated high school. They have changed the graduation rate for these students from 0% to 85%.


Because of this encouraging progress, Eastside Academy wanted to take their business to the next level by providing staff with equitable pay and creating a sustainable fundraising model that would enable future stability and growth.

So Eastside Academy hired Altruist in 2015. Our analysis revealed some important uncaptured opportunities, and we worked carefully with the board and staff to create a business plan, hire and train additional fundraising staff, and create the organization’s first executive dashboard to foster high performance, transparency and accountability to investors, partners, and community stakeholders. We helped them shift the focus from a traditional auction and low-return fundraising efforts and we’ve been supporting a more effective, scalable growth model ever since.

“Altruist has helped us in many ways,” says Executive Director, Toni Esparza. “Our income grew by roughly 15% last year, the first year applying the Altruist model. Our events now focus on our program and building relationships. Our dashboard shows our outcomes—not just our outputs. We have been able to invest in our staff and look toward a future with possibly more campuses. It’s still a challenge growing a nonprofit, but we have more confidence now that we have all the tools. Altruist was a great investment and continues to be a valued partner in our success.”

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