Since our innovative public-private partnership began in 2011, we’ve had the privilege of sharing our progress on filling Washington state’s talent gap in an annual report to the Washington State Legislature.
This year’s report includes the usual overview of data on applicants and scholarship recipients, but we’ve also checked-in with our graduates to see where they’ve landed and learn from their outcomes. In addition, we’ve put our student support services to the test to gauge whether our investment is moving the needle.
The results are clear, and we are thrilled to share.
Nearly all (94%) of our Scholars are moving from the classroom into the high-demand careers that fuel our economy and we are doing so by closing the achievement gap across race, ethnicity and gender. We are building a pipeline of talent and doing so by creating opportunities and supports for students from diverse backgrounds – including women and students of color. Our students are studying in Washington, staying in Washington and becoming the leaders of our STEM and health care economies.
The results demonstrate we are achieving the vision laid out by our state legislators and industry partners, like Microsoft and Boeing. This unique model of private dollars, matched dollar-for-dollar by the state of Washington, is creating a pipeline of diverse Washington graduates who are landing the high-demand jobs that fuel our economy.
As a staff we know how much work has gone into these exciting results, and it goes far beyond providing a scholarship check. Key to our success has been our efforts to scale-up our Scholar support services.
We believe in mentorship at every step of the Scholar experience. Scholars begin their academic journey with the assistance of a near-peer mentor who provides guidance and support to help jump-start their academic journey. As Scholars move closer towards graduation we’ve bolstered our industry mentorship program and created individualized job placement assistance so that our Scholars graduate career-ready with connections to professional networks.
Thanks to a study on our return on investment, we have the data to demonstrate that our support services are more than worth the investment. In fact, every $1 invested has a return on investment of more than $15 in individual and societal benefits.
Bolstering our pipeline of Scholars with a strong support system is critical if we want to continue filling our talent gap. Connecting Scholars to mentors – both in the classroom and in their field – is critical. This is particularly true for the Scholars we serve. The majority of which are the first in their family to go to college, are all low or middle-income and who come from populations of that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM and health care fields.
We will carry these successes and lessons learned as we expand to create three additional scholarships in the coming year. The Pathways Scholarship, the Rural Jobs Program and the Advanced Health Care Degree Scholarship for underserved areas will ensure that students from across the education spectrum – from students pursuing professional and technical degree and certificates to those pursuing post-baccalaureate health care degrees.
Our Scholars are the future of our state – thank you for being a part of their dream.
Naria Santa Lucia