College Spark E-Newsletter

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

Upcoming Events

NASAI Conference at Washington State University in Pullman, WA June 4-5, 2015.  Join the Native American Student Advocacy Institute (NASAI), Educating Native Youth for Success: Many Nations, One Vision conference to discuss new solutions, share best practices, and collaborate with colleagues to make a difference in the lives of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students. 


National Council for Community and Education Partnerships GEAR UP annual conferencein San Francisco, CA, July 19-22.  The annual conference features five plenary sessions and more than 130 concurrent sessions for college access practitioners, administrators, and education leaders.   

Washington Student Achievement Council hosts Pave the Way: Advancing Equity, Access, and Educational Attainment October 5-6, 2015 in Tacoma for P-20 educators, counselors, administrators, outreach and support services personnel, and community leaders working to improve postsecondary opportunities for low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented students. 
School's Out Washington The Bridge Conference is hosted at the University of Washington, October 19-20, 2015. Bridge brings together afterschool and youth development (AYD) professionals, school leaders (e.g. superintendents, principals and classroom teachers), funders, researchers, policymakers, trainers/coaches and business leaders from across the country.

In the News

Afterschool and youth development programs support CCSS implementation in Education Week 

School's Out Washington discusses the emerging need for the afterschool and youth development field to support K-12 efforts to close the opportunity gap and improve student outcomes. 


Testing can tell if students need help before college and career, an opinion piece by Randy Dorn and Marty Brown in the Seattle Times highlights the importance of 11th grade students taking Smarter Balanced tests and, if necessary, receiving the extra support in 12th grade through Bridge to College transition courses, which provide high school seniors a second chance and extra help for success in college and career.  


College Spark announces nearly $1.2 million in community grants


College Spark Washington recently announced grants totaling nearly $1.2 million through its Community Grants Program, focused on generating knowledge about how schools, colleges, and community-based organizations can help more low-income students achieve key milestones on the path towards college readiness and degree completion.
All organizations that receive Community Grants funding  measure project impact with one or more of the following outcome indicators: 

  • Increase the number of students who enroll in and pass Algebra by 8th grade
  • Reduce the number of middle school students who trigger two or more of three early warning indicators (absences, suspension/expulsion, and course failure)
  • Reduce the number of students who require development education (remedial coursework) in college
  • Increase the number of students who earn their first college-level credits in math and English 

"We are excited to partner with these nine grantees," said Christine McCabe, Executive Director at College Spark.  "Through this work, we will all learn more about how to support low-income students in middle and high school and being successful in the transition to college."


Learn more about the Community Grants Program or email Rachel Clements at to register for an Introduction to Community Grants Program webinar at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, July 8, 2015.


Since 2005, College Spark has granted more than $45 million throughout Washington state, with $14 million directed to the Community Grants Program. 

Celebrating 10 years of grantmaking!
For 10 years, College Spark has supported ideas that help low-income students in Washington prepare for college, get in, and earn a degree.  While many programs have been successful, our mission is far from over.  Gaps in college readiness, college access, and college success remain.  Read more about what we've learned and where we're headed in our 10 Year publication.  
Grantee News
Washington state students deserve high quality standards and tests to prepare them for success.  The Ready Washington coalition launched two videos on Smarter Balanced to provide parents with a better understanding of the new assessment system in Washington state schools. 
Math should engage students, not bore them, says Linda Estes, the latest teacher featured in Washington STEM's Teacher Pioneer series.  At Delta High School, in Tri-Cities, the ninth grade math teacher bases her teaching on research that shows students need to make sense of what they learn.  They must be allowed to struggle and learn from mistakes, and to see different ways of solving problems. 
Transcript Placement Toolkit
College placement tests such as ACCUPLACER and COMPASS are often inaccurate.  Research indicates that multiple placement strategies for students, including using high school GPA and high school transcript evaluation, result in more accurate placement and student success. The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges has developed a Transcript Placement Toolkit to help colleges interested in implementing this evaluation structure.   
Bridge to College courses available in 124 high schools next year
There is help for high school students who aren't quite ready for college, reports Linda Shaw at The Seattle Times.  Bridge to College courses in math and English language arts will be available at 124 high schools statewide for seniors who score below the college-ready level on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in 11th grade.  Students who pass the course will be considered college-ready at all Washington public institutions including 6 universities, 34 community and technical colleges, and 9 independent colleges and universities.  Students will be permitted to enroll in credit bearing college-level courses without additional placement testing. 
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