When the late Bill Henningsgaard saw a presentation about student demographics in his city, one number lodged in his head: 70 percent of the students at Lake Hills Elementary in south Bellevue qualified for free or reduced lunch in the 2011 to 2012 school year. Henningsgaard, a former Microsoft executive, was always one to spot the potential in a situation or a person. He set out to lower that number.
The idea of needy students seems incongruous in a place like Bellevue, home to glass skyscrapers and Louis Vuitton storefronts, tech giants like T-Mobile and high schools that rank among the top 160 in the nation for college prep. But says Stephanie Cherrington, executive director of Eastside Pathways, “Bellevue is a community of extreme wealth and extreme poverty.”