Coal Transition Board Funds Student Achievement Initiative


Grant will build on academic excellence while strengthening our local economy

Centralia, (October 11, 2018) The Centralia Coal Transition Grants Economic & Community Development Board (“ECD Board”) is pleased to announce it has approved a $200,000 grant to the Chehalis Foundation to support an initiative to further post-secondary education opportunities for youth. The initiative is intended to support the Foundation’s goal to have 60% of 2022 Chehalis graduates go on to earn a technical or college degree or acceptance into an apprenticeship to make them career ready.

“The Chehalis school district along with Centralia College are teaming to dramatically increase the number of local students going on to earn vocational or college degrees after high school through the Student Achievement Initiative (SAI)” said Tim Sayler, Chehalis Foundation President. “Ninety percent of the W.F. West class of 2018 were admitted to college or vocational school. The Chehalis Foundation is very grateful for the Centralia Coal Transition Board donation of $200,000 toward the SAI. We will use these funds strategically to match part of the Orin Smith endowment so that the funds will go twice as far.”

The Chehalis Foundation pursues academic excellence in Chehalis schools and supports the City of Chehalis. The Beyond K-12 Student Achievement Initiative aims to prepare every W.F. West graduate to be career and college ready. To achieve this goal, the Chehalis Foundation partners with the Chehalis School District, Centralia College, the Orin Smith Family Foundation and community donors.

“The partnerships the Chehalis Foundation has formed over the years and their investments are helping to ensure that when students graduate from high school, they have a direction toward a career”, said Jeff Yanish, ECD Board member. “Business leaders in our state have shown support for the Student Achievement Initiative citing that the initiative directly ties to economic development because many of these students will become tomorrow’s local workforce. The better their K-12 education and the more they progress in vocational schools or college the more attractive our area will be to employers. We see this opportunity not only as supporting education but building on academic excellence through various community partnerships and strengthening our local economy.”

The ECD Board was formed as a result of the 2011 Agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington to transition the Centralia plant away from coal-fired operations with one unit shutting down in December 2020 and the second unit in December 2025.

Overview of the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards:

Annual payments for the funding boards began in 2012 with the last payment due December 31, 2023.  The opportunity to start flowing dollars into projects became effective December 31, 2015.

Weatherization Board ($10M): established to fund energy efficiency and weatherization for the residents, employees, business, non-profit organizations and local governments within Lewis County and South Thurston County; up to $1 million shall be allocated to fund residential energy efficiency and weatherization measures for low-income and moderate-income residents of Lewis County and South Thurston County;

Economic & Community Development Board ($20M): established to fund retraining, economic development, and community enhancement; at least $5M shall be allocated to fund education, retraining and economic development specifically targeting the needs of workers displaced from the Centralia facility;

Energy Technology Board ($25M): established to fund energy technologies with the potential to create environmental benefits to the state of Washington.