White House recognizes Beth Unverzagt as “Champion of Change”

Beth Unverzagt photoPSU/GSE Program Administrator Beth Unverzagt got a surprise phone call in her car on the way home from work recently. The White House called to tell her she was being honored by the Obama Administration as a Champion of Change. “Who did you say this was?” said Unverzagt. “It was really surreal,” she said. “They called while I was driving, but when I got back to the office and saw the email, I realized it was authentic.”

Unverzagt is the director of OregonASK, a component of the Oregon Center for Career Development in Childhood Care and Education (OCCD) in the Graduate School of Education. OregonASK is a collaboration of 65 public and private organizations and community members concerned with out-of-school services for children in Oregon. OregonASK is funded through the C.S. Mott Foundation and the Oregon Early Learning Division (ELD).

Unverzagt and eight others from across the country were honored at the White House on Friday, February 26, for the Champions of Change Summer Opportunity Award. These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership in investing in, operating, or advocating for high-quality summer learning, meals, job opportunities, and violence prevention for children. They recognize that the summer “opportunity gap” for K–12 students contributes to later gaps in achievement, employment, and college and career success, particularly for low-income students. For example, by fifth grade, low-income children without summer learning opportunities are already two years behind their peers. Continue reading

Meet the Oregon Center for Career Development in Childhood Care and Education

OCCD Staff

OCCD Staff

The Oregon Center for Career Development in Childhood Care and Education (OCCD) is a relatively new department in the GSE that provides professional development infrastructure services to early learning and afterschool professionals in Oregon. The OCCD has contracts and grants with Oregon’s Early Learning Division, the Oregon Department of Human Services, the Oregon Community Foundation, and the Ford Family Foundation.

The OCCD began in PSU in 1995 with just a few staff and some start-up funds and soon grew rapidly, along with the early childhood field in general. The OCCD joined the GSE in 2012. At that time, it employed 23 staff and had $1,928,361 of grant funding. In the past three years, the OCCD has exploded with activity and its services are in high demand. The department now supports 38 people on grants with $3,661,438 in annual funding. Continue reading