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Altera Receives $2 Million Gift from the Yield Giving Open Call

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  • Contact: Sandra Adams or Barbara Peterson
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Wapato WA (March 19, 2024) – Today, MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving program announced that Altera, non-profit educational program serving in rural Washington State, is one of the recipients of awards that have been given to community-led, community-focused non-profit organizations that work with people who live in places experiencing the greatest need throughout the United States.

In March 2023, Altera responded to a Yield Giving Open Call and applied to the program, along with 6,353 other applicants, hoping to be awarded one of the 250 grants of $1 million each. After reviewing the incredible work of the organizations that applied, the donor team decided to expand the pool of awardees, as well as the amount granted to them.

Located on the Yakama Nation reservation in rural central Washington State, Altera is an educational nonprofit with 20+ years of success serving students in more than 24 rural communities and 67 schools, stretching from the Oregon border to Canada. Although the majority of families in these agribusiness-dominated economies live on subsistence wages, 95% of the Altera student cohorts have applied for postsecondary educational opportunities. Part of Altera’s mission is to inspire other districts to set similar goals and achieve similar results.   

Guided by their motto of ‘social equity through education,’ Altera provides educational programs that help students and families build the skills they need to achieve ambitious outcomes, now and into the future. Over the course of two decades, Altera has developed and distributed programs and materials for college preparation, for before- and after-school tutoring and enrichment, and for at-home use, so parents with limited literacy can help their school-age children learn to read, and ensure that their toddlers will be Kindergarten-ready when they enter school.

Barbara Peterson, Executive Director of Altera, said this about how the Yield Giving applications process inspired her team to think about and focus on new ways to continue and expand their impact:

“COVID brought educational and mental health challenges to so many students and their families. It also disrupted the educational bureaucracy. Homes became schools as parents took central roles in the education of their children. Altera responded to that crisis by developing new programs and curricula that allowed parents to teach their children at home, enriching their learning, preserving math and reading literacy, and keeping students of every age on a steady path to post-secondary learning. Altera honored and support the home cultures and assets of the families to sustain learning.

“Now that schools have returned to pre-COVID norms, we want to analyze what we’ve learned. We want to understand why students in our programs retained their math and reading skills, while many others fell behind. Was it because our programs leveraged assets in the home: caring parents, literate siblings, and abundant time in a safe environment? Did the distance from the school-based microaggressions (racial, linguistic, cultural) and hectic schedules allow some struggling students the freedom to learn at their own pace?

“We see enormous promise in our wordless picture-book training that empowered family members to become each other’s first teachers. Our program that trains rural high school students as math tutors for younger students shows every sign that it will pay dividends to address current teacher shortages. We have hypotheses we should test. If our outcomes are replicable, we want to share them. We wonder how far our low-cost, high-impact innovations could reach. With this new funding, we will be able to reach out and partner globally.”

Established by MacKenzie Scott to share a financial fortune created through the effort of countless people, Yield Giving is named after a belief in adding value by giving up control. To date, Yield’s network of staff and advisors has yielded over $16,500,000,000 to 1,900+ non-profit teams to use as they see fit for the benefit of others. More information on the Yield Giving Open Call and other initiatives can be found at


Briefly, The Altera Story

The common challenge that exists among the rural communities Altera serves is low educational attainment that too often traps Native, Hispanic, and Caucasian farming families in poverty, making it harder for them to find a better future. The upside that all these communities share is that they possess many cultural assets and traditions such as heritage languages, a strong work ethic, inter-generational networks, family cohesion, and shared experiences that can be leveraged to help them achieve ambitious outcomes, including high school diplomas, postsecondary education, vocational training, graduate degrees, stable employment, and economic well-being.

Building trust among school administrators, parents and students is essential. Altera works to change school culture so that the expectation of what is possible for all students in rural districts is now much wider. Our initiatives include:

  • Hiring college-educated staff who reflect the rural, ethnic and language backgrounds of their communities.
  • Studying rural educational systems deeply to shine a light on inequities and identify educational gaps that can undermine student achievement.
  • Collaborating with predominantly white districts through grant funding to incorporate broader cultural content and language-rich materials into their curricula and to encourage students to acquire bilingual (Spanish, Yakama Ichishkin) high school diplomas.
  • Training high school students as tutors who augment rural teaching staffs.
  • Helping more than 10,000 students make formal application to college.

Rural districts are independent, but since they are also resource-limited, they have learned to be adaptable. By operating respectfully within the culture of rural schools, Altera has been able to help them experiment with new approaches, finding and sharing those that work.

Learn more about Altera in this short video: 

Altera conducts our work on traditional lands of the Wanapum, Yakama, Colville and Quinalt People past and present. We honor the land itself and its multi-generational stewards who demonstrate in perpetuity a commitment to building relationships with Indigenous people for a positive future in Washington State and the entire region.