Generations Forward is a growing collaborative of families and community partners in Whatcom County, Washington. We believe that supporting children and family well-being from the start is essential for building healthy and resilient communities. We know that interlocking systems of oppression like racism, income inequality, and ableism prevent families from reaching their biggest dreams. Through our advocacy for families, we work to address these issues at both the interpersonal and the institutional level. We honor the expertise, culture, and wisdom that families hold from their lived experiences and strive to keep families at the center of all our work.
Our goal is to create a community where every family can truly thrive. We will know that we have reached this vision when we have a community where families of color are welcomed and supported, tribal sovereignty is respected and protected, single parents and nontraditional families have the resources they need, and all children have safe housing, healthy food, and accessible education.
The Generations Forward collaborative works towards this vision through Community-Building, Education and Co-learning, and Policy Advocacy.
We believe that families are stronger when they are connected to each other. We look for opportunities to empower and uplift the voices of families through storytelling, relationship building, and skill-sharing.
Education and Co-Learning
By offering resources for learning and education, we work towards creating a cultural shift towards greater connection, responsibility, and anti-racism in the community. We recognize that everyone has ideas and resources to offer, and that our learning is at its best when it is truly collaborative.
Through work with local and state policymakers, we create and advocate for policy changes that make real and meaningful changes for families. We offer families opportunities to participate directly in shaping and advocating for policy.
Generations Forward History
The Generations Forward Children’s Collaborative grew out of Whatcom County’s first community health assessment and improvement planning process in 2017. This process highlighted health and social inequities within Whatcom County and drew attention to the role that childhood adversity plays in the development and perpetuation of those inequities. Leaders expressed a desire for all children to have an even start in life, which requires tackling toxic stress and closing opportunity gaps associated with race, ethnicity, income and family adversity.
To accelerate this desire, in October 2017 the Opportunity Council and Whatcom County Health Department convened a cross-section of 74 community stakeholders for 2 ½ days using the Future Search conference model, a task-focused planning process. The Future Search process relies on the lived experience and knowledge of individuals who are most closely involved in and affected by the conference topic, rather than “outside experts.” Nearly 25% of participants attended as parents.
Participants envisioned the essential components for a future in which all Whatcom County children thrive and determined what they were ready and willing to act on, individually and collectively, to get there. They formed action teams committed to meeting regularly to develop goals and implement strategic plans toward their shared vision. Together, the participants made nine collective commitments to the community in order to improve the well-being of all young children and their families in Whatcom County.