College Spark E-Newsletter

College Spark Washington funds programs in Washington state that help low-income students become college-ready and earn their degrees.

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WCAN College Access Awareness Day in Olympia  

February 27, 9AM-3:30PM
Washington College Access Network's College Access Awareness Day brings together network member organizations to use their collective voices to support public policies that improve access to higher education for low-income students.

For more information, contact WCAN Director Lee Lambert.

Two New Tools from Seattle Jobs Initiative 

Seattle Jobs Initiative recently released two new tools designed to assist college navigators (those who help low-income students enter community college programs) prepare for, access, and persist in college. 
The ABC's of College Navigation Guide provides information and resources to help an individual become a successful community college student. Sections include preparation, program selection, enrollment, and persistence, along with a section on career.

The Community College Program Matrix guides students through the local community college system - helps users to quickly and easily learn more about, compare, select and connect to programs at local colleges within four key local industry sectors: Business Information Technology, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Transportation.

Promising Practices for Community College Student Success  

A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Student Success describes strategies for increasing retention and graduation rates, including fast-tracking remedial education, providing students with experiential learning, and requiring students to attend orientation. 

 February 15, 2012
College Readiness Initiative: Baseline Evaluation from 2009-10 and 2010-11
To help more low-income students graduate from high school college-ready, College Spark Washington invests in two promising programs: Navigation 101 and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination).
 A primary goal of our investment is to support schools in developing strong, sustainable, comprehensive college and career readiness programs.  

The baseline evaluation (2009-2010 and 2010-2011) for this nine-year initiative shows notable positive preliminary trends.

Schools participating in the initiative:

  • Increased the percentage of graduating seniors eligible for entrance into a four-year college based on course work.
  • Increased the percentage of students who took 8th grade algebra and other key math and science courses.
  • Increased students' sense of belonging and future focus, as indicated by student surveys.

Other program-specific positive trends:

Navigation 101

  • High school graduation rates at all Navigation 101 schools were 20% higher than a group of comparison schools.
  • College enrollment rates increased for Hispanic (30%) and African American (10%) students.


  • College-going rates increased by six percent.
  • Teachers trained in AVID strategies demonstrated more research-based effective teaching techniques than teachers not trained in AVID, based on classroom observations using the STAR Protocol.

Learn more about the baseline evaluation for Navigation 101 and AVID. 

Making Collective Impact Work
Collective Impact involves "highly structured collaborative efforts that achieve substantial impact on large scale social problems."

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work, authors Fay Hanleybrown, John Kania, and Mark Kramer outline five conditions that distinguish collective impact from other types of community collaboration:
  1. Common Agenda
  2. Shared Measurement
  3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities
  4. Continuous Communication
  5. Backbone Support
"The complex nature of most social problems belies the idea that any single program or organization, however well-managed and funded, can singlehandedly create lasting large-scale change," write the authors in the January 26 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

In Washington state, the Road Map Project is an example of collective impact. More than 75 organizations, including College Spark Washington, are working together to double the number of students in South King County and South Seattle who are on track to graduate from college or earn a career credential by 2020.

"The greater Seattle region has one of the best-educated workforces in the nation. We import highly educated talent from around the globe yet struggle to provide a solid education for the children in our own backyard. The children who grow up here deserve as good of an education as the people who show up here," says Mary Jean Ryan, Executive Director of the Community Center for Education Results.

Road Map Project participants "are committed to nothing less than closing the unacceptable achievement gaps for low-income students and children of
color, and increasing achievement for all students from cradle to college and career." Learn more and get involved.
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