October 2021 Newsletter: Helping students see a path to college

College advising corps

Bill Gates recently shared a success story about two bright high school seniors in Texas. The students, concerned about the admissions process and debt, had no plans to go to college. With guidance and support from a College Advising Corps member, both students found their way to higher education programs.

There are millions of students sitting in high school classrooms with similar dilemmas, including right here in our state. Black and Latino students, along with all students experiencing poverty, are disproportionately affected by transition challenges between high school, college, and employment.

The College Advising Corps is part of a larger effort at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen K-12, postsecondary, and workforce systems so that all students have the support they need to navigate the transitions between those systems. Our goal is to ensure students obtain credentials of value and have the professional skills, agency, and social capital needed to thrive in the workforce. I encourage you to scroll down to see how one of our partners in Tacoma is working to strengthen student pathways in Pierce County.

The students in Bill’s profile demonstrate the power of mentors who believe in a young person and all of their strengths and dreams. We know that all students can reach their goals as long as they have the right people and support by their side.

Angela Jones
Washington State Initiative

Grantee Spotlight

Graduate Tacoma

grads refuse to lose

Graduate Tacoma built a network of over 350 partners to address structural barriers that affect students from early learning through postsecondary access. Recently, Tacoma was one of five communities to participate in We Refuse to Lose, a collaborative approach to improve student pathways through community partnerships, student engagement, and data alignment using a racial equity lens. With help from Graduate Tacoma, the city has closed its 33% Black-white high school graduation gap, and partners continue to strengthen efforts to ensure these graduates go on toe are a college degree or credential.

The team stepped up big for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduate Tacoma worked with the College Success Foundation and Degrees of Change to stand-up a rapid response intervention for seniors at the pandemic’s onset. The vast majority of students needed help with scholarships. More than 25 cross-organization partners connected Tacoma seniors who had a self-identified need for support with direct service providers, and Graduate Tacoma hopes to reach even more seniors with earlier interventions this school year.

At a time when inequities in education are exacerbated, I still see the power of collective strength in classrooms and communities. Together, we can advance equity and create opportunity in Washington state’s education system.

Read more about Graduate Tacoma’s student-centered approach.

What We’re Reading

Read next

September 2022: Why are young people skipping college?

You might have read a story or two lately about college enrollment dips across the country. That’s certainly true over the last few years in Washington state. Recent reports from the National Student Clearinghouse indicate that postsecondary enrollment, which includes community, trade, and four-year colleges, decreased 16.9% in Washington between Fall 2019 and Fall 2021. Meanwhile, the national decline was 5.1%.