ABOUT GREATER THAN
What We Do
The mission of Greater Than is to support and empower students from poverty-impacted communities to thrive in school, college and career. To that end, we identify and convene quality best-in-class partners (based on track record, evidence of impact) and recruit them to join our collaborative whole school model on their own dime.
Focus on students and families from Oregon’s most poverty-impacted communities
Promote culturally responsive family engagement. We work closely with parents, who are the primary drivers of program priorities
Are long-term—we work with students and their families from Pre-K through college and career
Are inclusive—we do not “cherry pick” students and are deeply committed to educational equity
We believe that cultural, institutional, and individual racism creates disparities and barriers that are neither fair nor equitable.
We are committed to advancing racial equity as a foundational element of all aspects of our work and with all of our stakeholders. In addition to racism, we recognize that ALL other forms of bias must also be addressed in order to create a more just and equitable society.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to comprehensive community partnerships to help close the racialized achievement gap in our schools and colleges. We strive to create a truly equitable organization: one where students, families, and communities are welcomed and supported, where their faces, voices, and experiences are reflected and valued.
We listen and respond with great care and intentionality to the students and families with whom we partner. We consistently analyze our organizational commitment to equity and inclusion as expressed through our policies and practices, our workforce and board composition, and engagement of students and families as central guiders of our work. We are committed to collaborating with other organizations towards advancing equity for all.
Why Such a Heavy Focus on Racial Equity?
As we say in our Equity Statement, Greater Than is deeply committed to address ALL forms of unjust bias. As an education nonprofit, we are keenly aware that the educational achievement gap is highly racialized and that racism profoundly affects the students and families we serve throughout their lives. In order to achieve our mission of students thriving in school, college and career, we must put primary emphasis on racial equity.
We began in 1990 as "I Have a Dream" Oregon (IHD), partnering with schools in poverty-impacted areas by selecting a 3rd grade class to be a Dreamer Class. Since then, we have adopted 10 such classes; five are still active —one just graduated from high school and the remainder are in college. These "College Dreamers" receive three core services: mentoring, academic and social services, and exposure to a culture of college and career through post-secondary education.
In 2010 we launched a national demonstration project based on a whole school model. A public/private collective impact partnership aligning the efforts of more than 70 partners to improve outcomes for students who begin their pre-K-12 journey at Alder Elementary School in the Reynolds School District (RSD), one of Oregon's most poverty-impacted school. This whole school model expands on the core concepts of our class model and applies them to a whole school, following students from Alder through Reynolds and H.B. Lee Middle Schools, Reynolds High School (we call this the Alder Track), and eventually, post-secondary education. Our whole school model currently serves 800+ students, and after seven years we are now entering our final phase of build out of this demonstration project. This model has been replicated in other American cities and in Auckland, New Zealand.
In 2018, after a successful 27-year run as "I Have a Dream" Oregon we re-branded as Greater Than. While our core programming will remain the same, we are deepening our commitment to complex collaboration as an innovative strategy for system-level impact in education.