The Decade of Difference | Our Story

The Decade of Difference is a ten year community initiative designed to prepare our youth to be contributing and productive members in our society, community and economy.

This will be achieved through strategic efforts focused on kindergarten readiness, early literacy in reading and math, financial literacy, college and career planning, creative and innovative entrepreneurship activities, teacher training and professional development, and parent, business and community engagement.

How It Came About

North Coast employers told the Headwaters Fund Board in Humboldt County the most significant issue they were facing was their inability to find a ready, willing, and capable workforce. If this is not addressed, the long term implications threaten the very health and viability of our families, communities, and economy. The Headwaters Fund Board approved the investment of $1.5 million and issued a call to the community to become involved and help reverse these sobering trends.

Five Reasons Our Economy Has Changed

  1. Our economy and the need for a skilled and trained workforce is changing. There is a skills gap between what is needed and what is available locally.
  2. There are fewer youth on the North Coast today. Forty years ago there were 27,000 school age youth. Now there are 18,000, even though our population has increased by almost 40,000 residents.
  3. Twenty years ago good paying jobs were available for those who were not successful in school, even for those who dropped out. Those jobs no longer exist.
  4. The lure of high incomes and involvement with the local marijuana industry has affected the ability for local employers to find ready, willing and well prepared employees.
  5. Too many of our youth drop out of school and do not continue their education beyond high school. These individuals have far fewer job opportunities than in the past; they earn less and experience more unemployment.

A Community Initiative

Education is a key partner with this initiative. However, education cannot do it alone. Families and the broader community will need to become involved in order for this to be a success. We are very pleased with the dozens of businesses and community organizations that have already partnered with the Decade of Difference. Future success will depend on expanding these partnerships and involving the community as a whole.