Community Grants Program

students in class

College Spark has awarded over 100 Community Grants totaling over $18 million since 2005.

Eligible Projects

All projects that receive Community Grants funding must measure their impact with one or more of the Community Grants Program outcome indicators. All funded projects must be designed to both improve student outcomes over an established baseline and to generate knowledge about how to better serve students that will be useful to other organizations. Eligible grantees include organizations and schools that work with students in middle school, high school, or college in Washington.

Outcomes for projects that focus on middle school success

  • Reduce the rate of middle school students who trigger two or more of three early warning indicators: five or more absences during a single school semester, one or more course failures, or suspension or expulsion.
  • Improve the math performance of students in middle school, at least one measure of which will be the percentage of total 8th grade students with SBA math scores of 3 or higher.

Outcomes for projects that focus on the successful transition to college

  • Reduce the rate of students who are required to enroll in developmental education courses.
  • Increase the rate of students who earn their first college-level English or math credits – either while in high school, after taking some developmental education classes, or directly upon college enrollment.

To learn more about the Community Grants Program, review this webinar about our giving guidelines, priorities, and application process.

Promising Practices

We are particularly interested in projects that allow us to learn more about some strategies that have been identified as promising practices for promoting growth in the Community Grants Program outcome indicators. Learn more about Promising Practices.

Applying for a Community Grant

Before you begin the process of applying, we encourage you to learn more about the Community Grants Program focus and giving guidelines by viewing this Introduction to Community Grants Webinar.  The Community Grants Program will accept letters-of-inquiry (LOIs) from September 1, 2018 through October 16, 2018.  If you have not applied for funding recently, you are encouraged, but not required, to sign up for an introductory webinar on July 30, 2018 at 10:30 AM by contacting Rachel Clements, Program Officer.  Please review the 2019 Request-for-Proposal (RFP) before submitting your LOI.

To be eligible for College Spark funding, applicant organizations must be one of the following:

  • Organized and operated for purposes described in IRC Section 501(c)(3) and a public charity under IRC Section 509(a);
  • A university, college, school or other institution described in IRC Section 170(c)(1); or
  • A public agency, unit of government, tribal government, or tribal program under IRC Section 7871.

LOIs may be submitted by eligible organizations with a staffed and physical presence in Washington that can demonstrate successful experience in reaching and serving low-income students.  Students are considered low-income if they are eligible for Pell Grants or Washington State Need Grants, or from families eligible for one of the following public assistance programs: SNAP (food stamps), Free and Reduced Price Lunch, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

A select number of LOI respondents are invited to submit a full application. However, a request for a full application does not guarantee funding.

Organizations invited to submit a full application will be asked to complete a Grant Narrative Form as part of their application.  Links to the forms are included below for your reference.

Narrative Forms:

Planning Grant Requests
Program Improvement Grant Requests
Research or Evaluation Grant Requests

Please contact Rachel Clements, rachel@collegespark.org, if you have questions.

Our Grantees

2018 Grantees

Northwest

Bethel School District (Bethel) — $150,000
Meeting math standards is a significant barrier to college readiness and degree completion for low-income students. With support from College Spark, the Bethel School District will provide professional development for middle school math teachers to help them transition from primarily procedural instruction to more comprehensive, conceptual instruction methods that allow students to better understand how they arrived at a solution.

Pierce College Foundation (Tacoma) — $110,171
Corequisite remediation has the potential to dramatically increase both the rate of students earning college-level math credit and overall degree completion rates.  Pierce College will use grant funding to create a corequisite math class with a supplemental instruction model for each of its existing introductory college-level math courses.  Supplemental instruction is an academic support model that uses collaborative group study for students in traditionally difficult courses.  These weekly hour-long sessions are mandatory and are facilitated by tutors.

Renton Technical College (Renton) — $49,964
Many Washington colleges are interested in encouraging more students who begin in Transitional Studies and more workforce students to complete two-year degrees instead of stopping after completing short-term certificates.  One of the primary barriers for students who might consider completing a degree is getting through the pre-college math sequence and completing college-level math.  Renton Technical College will use grant funding to plan for two new math courses (MATH 175 and 190) that align learning outcomes in Transitional Studies courses and better serve as a bridge to college-level courses.  Depending on where a student begins, the proposed math sequence will allow students to complete their math requirements in one to two quarters faster than is currently possible.

Tacoma Community College (Tacoma) — $28,600
In reviewing the college enrollment data from the Washington Student Achievement Council, Tacoma Community College found that a significant percentage of the College Bound Students they expected never actually enrolled. Tacoma Community College will work on a planning project to improve the transition to college for graduates of Tacoma Public Schools with College Bound Scholarships and to decrease the rate of College Bound Scholars who are required to take developmental education courses upon entering college.

Tacoma Housing Authority (Tacoma) — $135,000
Tacoma Housing Authority will use grant funding to research the effectiveness of the Children’s Savings Account – Scholar Incentive Program. The evaluation will examine, among other variables, whether a savings incentive program that invests in an education fund when students meet academic milestones promotes lower Early Warning Indicator rates in low-income students.

Eastern

Community Colleges of Spokane (Spokane) — $149,997
In an effort to improve the transition from high school to college, Community Colleges of Spokane will revise its placement strategy at both Spokane and Spokane Falls Community Colleges by collaborating with Spokane Public Schools and regional school districts. The goal of this project is to increase the rate of students who place directly into college-level math by developing transcript-based placement instrument and revising placement practices at both colleges to ensure that the newly development instrument is used at scale.

Community Colleges of Spokane (Spokane) — $103,686
Community Colleges of Spokane (CCS) will develop, pilot, and expand an Academic I-BEST version of corequisite math remediation. Academic I-BEST links two centextualized courses using team-teaching and required wrap-around supports. Students can potentially earn either developmental or college-level credit in English or math depending on their progress and performance in the class. CCS will begin scaling small pilots of Academic I-BEST for math students placed one level below college-level and grow the program to serve 300 students in three years.

Eastern Washington University (Cheney) — $149,573
Over three years, Eastern Washington University plans to develop, pilot, and scale corequisite remediation courses. In corequisite remediation, students are placed directly into college-level courses with required extra support sessions instead of being enrolled in pre-college, non-credit bearing development courses. Corequisite courses will be designed and piloted in the first year, refined based on classroom observation and data analysis and expanded in the second year, and fully scaled in the third year.

Kennewick School District (Kennewick) — $150,000
A $150,000 grant will help Kennewick School District provide professional development for middle school math teachers at Park Middle School. Professional development will include teacher training on grade-level math standards in addition to technical assistance writing units of study and tiered academic interventions for middle school math. Once units have been written, Park Middle School plans to implement a continuous improvement cycle of lesson planning, classroom observations, and facilitated reflection to refine their work.

Spokane Public Schools (Spokane) — $150,000
With a $150,000 grant, Shadle Park High School will work to reduce Early Warning Indicators in 9th and 10th grade so that students complete their early high school years with full credits, are prepared and eligible to take of advantage of dual credit opportunities in 11th and 12th grade, and can earn their first college-level English and math credits before leaving high school. Project work will include the development of a Freshman team and Sophomore team of teachers, administrators, counselors, and achievement gap intervention specialists to develop four practices that support early high school success: 1) common instructional practices, 2) behavioral expectations and discipline practices, 3) grading practices, and 4) assessments. Coordinated work to align practices school-wide to create common behavior policies and instructional practices is a strategy for improving quality and equity.

Olympic

Olympic Educational Service District 114 (Bremerton) — $146,738
Olympic ESD 114 will provide professional development to a cohort of 20 primarily rural middle school math teachers in its region over three years. Research-based professional learning will focus on equipping teachers to promote student progress in growth mindset and the Common Core State Standards in Mathematical Practices. This project aims to build a middle school teacher cohort through a summer residence program as well as school-year gatherings, and to provide participants with both professional and peer feedback and support. Through classroom implementation of new strategies and continual gathering and analysis of student-produced evidence, Olympic ESD hopes to increase the rate of 8th grade students scoring 3 or higher on the math section of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Peninsula College (Port Angeles) — $149,700
Peninsula College will work to contextualize its first college-level math and English courses to each meta-major and create corequisite courses. Contextualized courses are more relevant to students, and can promote retention and completion. By using examples, readings, assignments, and projects that integrate applications from a broad career pathway that a student chooses, students are more likely to complete college when there is a clear understanding of how course work connects to their career aspirations. The corequisite model will include required additional support sessions for students who are placed directly into credit-bearing math and English courses.

2017 Grantees

Northwest

Bellingham Technical College (Bellingham) — $150,000
With support from College Spark, Bellingham Technical College will redesign the structure of its development math courses so more students can make it through a college-level math course within two years. Bellingham Technical College plans to convert all of its developmental math classes to flipped classrooms, which deliver lecture content online outside of class time and use the classroom for practicing skills, small group work focused on interaction, problem-solving, and one-on-one instruction.

City Year Seattle/King County (Seattle) — $47,000
City Year Seattle will refine its existing work by using an assessment of social and emotional skills to inform a more targeted approach to providing social emotional learning supports. By using this assessment with students at Denny and Aki Kurose Middle Schools, City Year will support students identified through Early Warning Indicator data with improved interventions to directly address specific deficits rather than working with students on more broad social and emotional goals.

Everett Community College (Everett) — $122,858
Everett Community College will work to increase the percentage of students completing their first college-level math course within one year by: (1) replacing its current six-course pre-college sequence with a new 3-course sequence designed to support the Guided Pathways model; (2) improving the alignment of pre-college math learning outcomes to those in each first college-level math course; (3) increasing use of contextualization in pre-college math that focuses on real-world applications and conceptual understanding; and (4) aligning first college-level math courses to career pathways for both STEM and non-STEM meta-majors.

Highline Public Schools (Highline) — $50,000
Highline Public Schools will develop a plan to improve outcomes for non-traditional Advanced Placement (AP) students. Over the past five years, Highline has made a concerted effort to ensure that students have more equitable access to AP and other dual credit opportunities. A $50,000 grant will help Highline refine its current AP program to help students who are new to AP courses be successful, pass their AP tests, and earn their first college credits in English and/or Mathematics.

Renton Technical College (Renton) — $49,994
Renton Technical College (RTC) will use grant funds for planning the process of creating contextualized English courses for the seven new meta-majors that will be offered at RTC as it transitions to a Guided Pathways model. Contextualized courses teach foundational academic skills in a way that is relevant and meaningful to students in each disciplinary area. By exploring how to best structure contextualized English courses that fulfill degree expectations, rather than only certificate requirements, RTC aims to move more technical students through college-level English courses and on a path to degree completion.

Tacoma Public Schools (Tacoma) — $141,000
Tacoma Public Schools will work to design and implement a restorative justice model of school discipline at Jason Lee Middle School in order to reduce early warning indicators and support the social emotional learning of students. The in-school suspension program will be redesigned for restorative justice activities, which might include service learning or mediation between parties in conflict to guide students to understand and repair the damage caused by their behavior.

Southwest

Clark College (Vancouver) – $150,000
Clark College aims to reduce the time it takes the 75% of students placed into pre-college math to progress to college-level math. This plan for pre-college math reform includes three primary elements: (1) condensing the current four-course sequence of pre-college courses to two courses; (2) contextualizing these pre-college math courses to each of the four broad degree categories (called meta-majors) that students will enter, which will include Liberal Arts, Social Science and Education, Business, and Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM); (3) students in the Business and STEM meta-majors, which will require more algebraic concepts than the other meta-majors, will receive co-requisite support in the form of supplemental instruction during their first college-level math course rather than requiring a third pre-college course.

Multiple Regions

Mathematics Education Collaborative (statewide) — $300,000
A $300,000 grant will help Mathematics Education Collaborative (MEC) design leadership materials and prepare teachers statewide to lead ongoing professional development that will help mathematics teachers guide students as they make mathematical arguments, critique ineffective strategies, and build on the ideas of their peers.

Eastern

Spokane Public Schools (Spokane) — $150,000
A $150,000 grant will help Glover Middle School improve its early warning indicator reduction efforts to reduce its suspension rate through a combination of three key strands of work. The plan includes (1) professional development on school-based strategies for working with students in trauma for all teachers and staff, (2) training for students on trauma, resiliency, and strategies for self-regulating emotions, and (3) redesigning the Glover discipline plan to include restorative justice strategies.

South Central

Yakima School District (Yakima) — $150,000
Yakima School District serves 35% English Language Learners (ELL) and 14% migrant students, which is higher than the statewide average for those groups. A $150,000 grant will help Yakima School District design and implement professional development for all middle school math teachers to improve math outcomes for English Language Learners. Teachers will be trained in techniques and tools to help them integrate ELL supports and growth mindset practices into their daily routines.

2016 Grantees

Northwest

Lake Washington Institute of Technology (Kirkland) – $150,000 over three years to combine its intake and placement systems into one uniform system and to create systems of directed self-placement for English and math.  In directed self-placement, students are allowed to choose from a set of placement options after seeing examples of the concepts, course work, assessment, and student testimonials from different levels of pre-college and college-level math.

Renton Technical College (Renton) — $49,999 in one year to design an Open Doors dual credit reengagement program on its campus for students who left high school before graduating.  In collaboration with the Renton School District and community agencies, Renton Technical College will develop a curriculum that contextualizes English and math instruction into career and technical preparatory courses.

Seattle Public Schools (Aki Kurose Middle School) (Seattle) — $150,000 over two years to develop more intensive interventions to lower the rates of early warning indicators (EWI) for African-American males.  Students in the project will engage in goal setting cycles that will incorporate regular self-reflection with their own EWI and academic data, maintain a goal setting and action portfolio, meet with teachers acting as mentors, participate in facilitated family events, and have opportunities to meet with successful adults.  Student support protocols will be designed to allow all African-American males to matriculate into high school with a strong sense of student agency, with clear long term goals, and fully prepared for rigorous coursework.

Skagit Valley College (Mount Vernon) — $149,712 over three years to design, sequence and implement introductory English classes to best promote student learning and success in a Guided Pathways system.  Aligning and sequencing English courses to areas of interest that students select has the potential to improve student motivation and learning.

Whatcom Community College (Bellingham) — $150,000 over three years to scale a co-requisite English course called English 101-Plus.  In co-requisite courses, students that would have been traditionally placed into a developmental, non-credit bearing course are instead placed directly into the college-level course and are provided additional supports during a longer class period.  This model provides the support for students to build skills, self-efficacy, and earn college credit within one academic quarter.

Whatcom Community College(Bellingham) — $150,000 over three years to redesign its math placement practices and developmental sequence to increase the rate of students earning college-level credit within two years.  Whatcom Community College will create a directed self-placement tool to help students select a math course for themselves after seeing examples of the concepts, course work, assessment, and student testimonials.

Multiple Regions

Republic School District (North Central, South Central, Eastern) — $150,000 over three years to develop, share, and sustain systems for long term improvements in discipline policy and practice.  Sound Discipline, a community-based organization, will provide support, consultation, and coaching to data teams from 10 rural districts focused on reducing discipline problems and improving outcomes for students.  The Rural Alliance for College Success will connect the work of participating districts so that implementation is supported by a network of rural educators.

Eastern

Community Colleges of Spokane (Spokane) — $149,991 over three years to partner with five districts within the Eastern Washington Rural Alliance Partnership (Mary Walker, Reardan-Edwall, Riverside, Grand Coulee Dam, and Colville) to improve college and career readiness for high school students by better preparing them to enter dual credit opportunities.  College faculty will work with high school teachers and counselors to design student learning modules that address academic gaps in math and English as well as other student success barriers including study skills, mindset, persistence, and time management.

NEWESD 101 (Spokane) — $149,998 over three years to use gamification as a strategy for addressing Early Warning Indicators (EWI) in two Eastern Washington middle schools – Centennial Middle School in the West Valley School District and Riverside Middle School in the Riverside School District.  Gamification is the use of game design elements – rules of play, competition, and scoring – in non-game contexts and has been studied for its potential to improve engagement, organizational productivity, learning, and systems.  NEWESD will train teachers and counselors in gamification of the classroom and about practices for review of EWI and identification of at-risk students.

Spokane Public Schools (Spokane) — $150,000 over three years to make Advanced Placement Language and Composition the default English Language Arts course for all 11th grade students at Rogers High School. Project implementation will include professional development for 9th and 10th grade teachers in differentiation of instruction and instructional strategies that foster rigorous learning, training 11th grade ELA teachers to teach AP courses, and development of an ELA learning community focused on improving the rigor of ELA instruction.

2015 Grantees

Northwest

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County (Snohomish) –  $49,556 over three years to develop, implement, and refine a curriculum designed for use by school-based volunteer mentors to reduce Early Warning Indicators of course failure, absenteeism, and disciplinary problems leading to suspension or expulsion with middle school students at North Middle School in Everett.

Communities in Schools of Auburn (Auburn) — $141,228 over two years to foster a community/district partnership between Communities in Schools of Auburn and the Auburn School District to improve current intervention strategies for 7th and 8th grade students at Olympic, Mt Baker, and Cascade Middle Schools. The project includes a mix of planned, evidence-based interventions and work to develop new interventions.

Everett Public Schools (Everett) — $150,000 over three years to improve access to rigorous course work for low-income students.  This project will analyze student and survey data to identify the most important readiness, information, and expectation barriers to Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment for low-income students and inform the planning and implementation strategies for student outreach, recruitment, and academic support.  Additionally, Everett Public Schools will work on increasing the effectiveness of teachers with low-income youth in high-rigor courses through professional learning communities focused on teaching AP strategies and developing growth mindset.

Highline College (Des Moines) — $150,000 over three years to enhance its current work on existing placement practices for credit-bearing math courses. This project focuses on redesigning the student experience with placement so that students are making better informed choices. A new sequence of placement activities will require increased student participation, pre-placement advising, multiple measures for assessment, and requiring students with a remedial placement to attend a workshop and retest.

Northwest Indian College (Bellingham) — $114,864 over three years to develop and pilot non-cognitive interventions in the classroom, including the integration of cultural topics and experiences in order to make academic content more relevant to students’ lives, interests, and cultural identities. Forging a greater sense of cultural identity in a classroom setting may influence important markers of degree progress for students.

Seattle University (Seattle) — $150,000 over three years to refine and improve its program by updating training materials for volunteers, aligning tutoring with classroom learning objectives, and creating parent engagement activities.  This project explores how to deepen the partnership between a school and a community partner.

Multiple Regions

Edge Foundation (Tacoma, Burien, Spokane, Yakima, and White Swan) — $150,000 over three years to partner with the University of Washington to evaluate Edge Coaching interventions with middle school students receiving the intervention and a control group of students.  Lessons learned from this evaluation will be instructive to Edge Foundation,  to schools, and to other community based organizations.

Gateway to College National Network (Spokane, Kirkland, Des Moines) — $121,700 over two years to support a “Schools to Jobs” intervention program for dual credit students to help them build a sense of identity and tie that identity to academic and career planning.  Students in the program have the opportunity to complete their high school requirements and transition to college courses on campus at Spokane Falls Community College, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and Highline College.

University of Washington (Seattle, Granger, Manson, Othello) — $149,995 over two years to support a collaborative effort between University of Washington faculty and high school English teachers to develop and implement a supplemental curriculum for 10th and 11th grade students to improve their readiness for a UW in the High School English class.  The goal of the project is to prepare a more diverse range of students for success in a UW in the High School English course and increase the rate of students earning their first college credit in high school.

2014 Grantees

Northwest

Everett Community College (Everett) — $39,500 for a research project about the relationship that student preparation and characteristics have with the long-term math success of community college students that have gone through various reforms to the developmental math sequence that have been tried at Everett Community College.

Green River Community College Foundation (Auburn) — $77,749 over three years to develop and test the required use of an out of class writing center services for students in remedial English and learn how requiring academic supports that are typically optional can affect the likelihood of transitioning to successful completion of college level English courses.

Tacoma Community College (Tacoma) — $150,000 over three years to facilitate a collaborative effort between Tacoma Community College and Tacoma Public Schools to improve the alignment between the K-12 and postsecondary project partners, reduce learning gaps in the transition from high school to college in math and English, and better prepare students for college-level work.

The Dream Project (Seattle) — $150,000 over three years to enhance its current work by improving its curriculum, materials and training of mentors; and improvements to its data management system to better inform efforts to help students avoid remediation.

 

East

Eastern Washington University (Cheney) — $149,985 over three years to partner with Community Colleges of Spokane and K-12 school districts in the greater-Spokane region to improve the alignment of curriculum and assessments with each other and to the Common Core State Standards.

NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101 (Spokane) — $149,799 over three years to develop and implement an Algebra-readiness boot camp for students in 5th – 7th grades and professional development for middle school math teachers with the goal of increasing the number of students taking and passing Algebra by the 8th grade.

Southwest

Educational Service District 112 (Vancouver) — $150,000 over three years for professional development to help math teachers improve their skills in teaching Algebra to low-income middle school students. The project includes providing direct support to 75 students over three years to help them overcome barriers to success in math and change the culture of math fear and avoidance.

Olympic

Peninsula College (Port Angeles) — $149,989 over two years to expand a pilot of “flipped classrooms” – a term used to describe delivering lecture content online outside of class time and using the classroom for practicing skills, small group interactions and one-on-one instruction – to all sections of one level of developmental math and developmental English with the goal of improving the number of students that are able to go on to earn college-level credits.

North Central

Brewster School District (Brewster) –$145,000 over three years to implement TI-Math Forward, a program that includes professional development for middle school math teachers, extended class time for math, and improved use of technology to support instruction.

South Central

Toppenish Middle School (Toppenish) –$150,000 over three years to provide professional development to math teachers and required out-of-school time support to students struggling the most with math at a 100% free and reduced lunch middle school that has recently transitioned to Algebra for all students.

Central & Eastern

The Rural Alliance for College Success – Mary Walker School District (Springdale) –$120,000 over three years to administer a college placement test for math to high school juniors at over 20 participating schools and provide a remediation course during senior year to low-scoring students. The goal is to reduce the number of students that require remedial math in college.

Northwest & North Central

Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (Olympia) –$150,000 over three years to assist a group of colleges with developing and implementing transcript-based placement procedures for English to replace current placement procedures that rely only on placement tests and to develop a toolkit on how to do this work that can be used by other colleges in Washington.