Image Credit: Michele Davis

One by One, Students Ignite the World

Upper Columbia Academy and FoundationONE recently determined to raise $15 million to ensure long-term sustainability for Upper Columbia Academy. This unprecedented three-year joint endeavor will empower UCA to reach the highest level of educational excellence, enable UCA to update its aging facilities and provide a long-term solution to the affordability issue through a strong endowment.

UCA and its predecessor, Yakima Valley Academy, have been providing teens with a remarkable Christian growth opportunity for more than 100 years.

“When I came to UCA, I was at a crossroads," said an alumnus. "The teen years are a critical period in a child’s life. There is something magical about seeking God with your peers and being guided by teachers/mentors who have a wonderful picture of God. It really is life transforming! As long as this world continues, UCA’s ministry must continue!”

Through the years, UCA has had its share of ups and downs. In 1980, the school was grappling with huge debt. One board member recalled, “When I first joined the board, at every meeting we talked about how to shut down the school. But then Elder Jere Patzer, board chair, made this suggestion, ‘Let’s take the first few minutes of every board meeting to read the book Education, by Ellen G. White, and pray for our school.’ After that, things began to turn around.” 

Since then, UCA has been carefully adhering to the core values of Adventist education and UCA’s ministry has flourished. Average enrollment for the 2021–2022 school year was 270. Besides the highest quality academics, UCA offers several vocal, band and string ensembles; basketball, volleyball and golf; horsemanship; farming and gardening; culinary and baking; building and automotive; a vibrant spiritual climate; and an enriching social culture.

Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University Health and honorary chair for the Igniting the World campaign, said, “The challenges now facing our Adventist educational system are real and urgent. So, I have been delighted to see the creativity of Upper Columbia Academy leadership. Their campus programming retains an emphasis on productive work skills, undergirded by the strong spiritual foundation that has always distinguished UCA. We need this proven model of life-changing, residential education, together with a robust endowment, to keep our school unique and sustainable. And now the integration of FoundationONE’s successful fundraising combined with backing from the Upper Columbia Conference has brought a permanent solution within reach. I urge you to join Judy and me in bringing the ‘Igniting the World’ dream to reality.”

The Igniting the World campaign officially began July 1, 2021. To date more than $2.5 million has been raised. For more information about Igniting the World visit or call Linda Klinger, executive director of FoundationONE, at 509-939-1716.

Featured in: July/August 2022