About Us

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

We make grants to organizations and institutions throughout Washington that help low-income students improve their academic achievement, prepare for college, and successfully graduate. Grantees include community-based organizations, community and technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities, education non-profits, and public agencies.

College Spark Washington began supporting access to higher education in 1978 by managing student loan programs. In 2004, the loan operations were sold and an endowment created. Grant-making began in 2005 and since then we have committed nearly $37 million to college readiness and degree completion programs throughout Washington state.

We conduct an annual, competitive Community Grants Program which awards more than $1 million each year, with a median grant size of $50,000.  Each fall, we accept requests-for-proposals for Community Grants and then conduct a rigorous process of site visits and application reviews to select grantees. Between 2005-2012, College Spark awarded more than 100 Community Grants totaling $12.5 million.  Information about our Community Grants guidelines, application deadlines, and past recipients is available on our website under the "Grants" tab.

We also support two major college readiness and degree completion initiatives. We support Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count, a national, multiyear initiative to increase the success of underserved students at community colleges. College Spark’s grants fund the participation of Washington colleges in this student success initiative. More information is available at www.achievingthedream.org.

To help more low-income students graduate from high school college-ready, College Spark is investing in a nine-year College Readiness Initiative supporting two promising programs:

  • Navigation 101:  A life skills and planning curriculum for students in grades 6 through 12, Navigation 101 was developed by the Franklin Pierce School District (Tacoma) and has since been adopted by districts statewide.
  • AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination):  An international academic support program for students in grades 4 through 12, AVID helps students succeed in challenging college prep courses and prepare for college.

Information about Navigation 101 is available at www.k12.wa.us/navigation101, and information about AVID is available at www.avidonline.org.

College Spark also supports the Washington Scholarship Coalition, a public/private partnership to build a free, web-based scholarship clearinghouse, theWashBoard.org, for Washington residents and students attending Washington colleges. There are over 150,000 registered scholarship seekers and nearly $50 million in available scholarship awards for 2012-13.

In 2012, College Spark adopted an Advocacy Grants Program to fund advocacy projects that accelerate the adoption and implementation of policies and practices that advance student success beyond direct service grants.