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Salish School of Spokane Rises to the Challenge

Posted Feb 19, 2021 03:28 PM
Salish School of Spokane is a childcare center and elementary school that preserves and revitalizes the Salish people’s language and culture. The school was started by five women to provide immersion education to children ranging from infants to high school students, so that the Salish community may live on for future generations.

The school went from serving six students to about 70, an explosion of growth that called for new organizational practices. LaRae Wiley, the co-founder of Salish School of Spokane, says the school reached out to 501 Commons for guidance on helping the organization build a sustainable path forward.

“501 Commons helped Salish School of Spokane to reflect, create, and develop a successful plan to evolve from a growing adolescent stage to a mature sustainable stage in the development of our organization,” LaRae says. “They have the experience and expertise to build your nonprofits' capacity and development too!”

Salish School of Spokane participated in Pathways, an organizational assessment and consultation program developed specifically for nonprofits. They identified financial management, fundraising, and staffing as areas they wanted to strengthen. After going through the Pathways process, LaRae says they went from being a grassroots-based organization feeling the stresses that come with growth to a smoothly run community institution that’s better able to manage their capacity – including dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Pathways program enabled Salish School of Spokane to create measurable steps in order to build our capacity, and determine our mid-range and long-term goals,” LaRae says.

How could your organization benefit from Pathways? Learn more about Pathways and contact Jan Burrell at to begin a conversation.