Educational Service District 112 is happy to announce participation in a new three-year initiative that will provide funding to expand programs and supports that will help students find ways to transition from high school into postsecondary education opportunities, including two- and four-year degrees, apprenticeships, and valued credentials needed for more than 70% of the region’s jobs. The initiative will include a particular focus on those facing the most significant barriers to opportunity, including students from rural and low-income backgrounds and Black, Latino, and Indigenous students. ESD 112 is one of four regional partnerships in Washington state that will participate in this pioneering initiative, the Horizons Grant Program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The Horizons Grant Program is empowering rural schools and their higher education allies to launch innovative advising roles,” said Vickei Hrdina, Director of Career Readiness & STEM Initiative Programs at ESD 112. “These positions directly link students’ post-high school goals with mentorship, dual enrollment opportunities, financial guidance for further education, and customized support tailored for rural students.”

For over 50 years, ESD 112 has enhanced educational equity and opportunities in Southwest Washington and beyond. We support teaching and learning and offer business and administrative expertise to large and small school districts. Working with education and community partners, we serve over 99,000 K-12 students across 30 public districts, 34 private schools, and two state schools. We also directly impact approximately 17,000 children annually throughout our region and state, providing essential resources and opportunities for every child to succeed.

The Horizons Grant Program provides a comprehensive support system offering funding and technical assistance. This assistance is crucial for learning about and implementing proven strategies that facilitate students’ progression beyond high school. Moreover, it empowers regions to harness data effectively, ensuring programs are finely tuned to student needs.

Each regional partnership has received an initial planning grant to collaborate with technical experts. These partnerships are crucial for setting concrete goals and crafting detailed implementation plans due for finalization this fall, with subsequent funding to support these plans.

Nearly 90% of Washington’s high school students express a desire to continue their education. In Southwest Washington, less than 45% of high school graduates pursue further education or training, and only 38% complete credential programs – a number that drops to 23% in rural areas. The Horizons Grant Program aims to bridge this gap by focusing on local empowerment and resources.

ESD 112 will administer the funds to partners throughout the Southwest Washington region, including:

The funding will ultimately enhance the visibility and accessibility of postsecondary options to high school students, countering the decline in interest observed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Horizons initiative is allowing our rural schools to directly partner with higher education and workforce partners and reframe the way advising for what comes beyond high school,” said Hrdina. “What we hope to create is a more seamless transition from high school to a credential program where support is shared between schools, higher education, families and communities.”

The partnership between ESD 112, the Gates Foundation, and local educational institutions under the Horizons Grant Program heralds a new era of postsecondary educational opportunity and equity. By combining resources, expertise, and a deep understanding of community needs, we are set to make a profound impact on Southwest Washington communities.

For More Information

For additional details about ESD 112’s Horizons Grant Program and its impact in Southwest Washington, please get in touch with Mika Yoshida at or Monique Dugaw at