(WSB video, photos)
On her second day in office, Mayor Jenny Durkan came to South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) on Puget Ridge to announce a plan to expand the Seattle Promise “free community college” program. Today, with weeks left until she leaves office, Durkan returned to SSC with word that the city’s partnering with the state to support some Seattle Promise students as they continue on with studies in STEM, health care, and the trades. “An almost-bookend,” she called the visit. She was there to announce that the city is contributing up to $400,000 of federal pandemic-relief money to help dozens of Seattle Promise students extend their education via the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship. WSOS will match that money, so this makes the city the first “Municipal Match” partner for the WSOS. Its board chair, Microsoft president Brad Smith, said this will enable more local people to “fill high-paying jobs.”
Kitsap County State Rep. Drew Hansen, who advocated for this type of scholarship expansion, reiterated Smith’s point simply and enthusiastically, “A couple of trillion-dollar companies in this state hire kajillions of people from all over the planet” – and more of them should be homegrown. City education director Dr. Dwane Chappelle agreed, and said “Equitable access is the key.”
Equitable access is the hallmark of the Seattle Promise program. As SSC president Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap noted, SSC is the “birthplace” of Seattle Promise, which offers up to two years of free college to Seattle Public Schools graduates. It began as the “13th-Year Promise,” one year free at SSC for students from certain Seattle high schools. Participation has quadrupled since the program expanded, she said – 230 Promise students in 2018, 1,100 this year.
From the city’s announcement, here’s how the new partnership will work:
The City will invest up to $400,000 in WSOS through 2023 as part of the City’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Washington state will match the City’s investment dollar-for-dollar. The municipal match partnership will be funded by Federal Coronavirus Local Recovery Funds (CLFR), resulting in a total of $800,000 in new scholarship funds for up to 60 Seattle Promise scholars. While all students in the State of Washington are eligible to apply for the WSOS, only Promise Scholars will be eligible for funding made available through the City of Seattle’s new partnership.
The city’s announcement also describes the two WSOS “scholarship pathways,” which offer mentorship as well as money:
-The WSOS Baccalaureate Scholarship (BAS) will provide students pursuing bachelor’s degrees up to $22,500 in financial assistance to continue their third year of college. Scholars could use the funding to pay tuition, fees, and additional student costs including housing, transportation, food and other expenses.
-The WSOS Career and Technical Scholarship (CTS) will provide scholars pursuing associate degrees, certificate or apprenticeship programs up to $1,500 per quarter. Similarly to the BAS pathway, CTS funds are flexible and can be used to cover costs beyond tuition.
SPS seniors graduating next year can apply now for Seattle Promise; January 5th is when WSOS applications open. You can learn about the fields of study available at South Seattle College by going here.