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 more than $45 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, in grants of up to $150,000.  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 2005-2015, College Spark awarded more than 100 Community Grants totaling more than $15 million.  Information about our Community Grants guidelines, application deadlines, and past recipients is available on our website under the "Grants" tab.

We also support three major college readiness and degree completion initiatives. Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count is a national, multiyear initiative to increase the success of underserved students at community colleges. College Spark’s grants fund the participation of 19 Washington colleges in this student success initiative. More information is available at www.achievingthedream.org.  

Our new College-Ready Math Initiative invests $12 million over seven years to help low-income students graduate from high school with strong math skills and avoid remediation in college.  The initiative includes a variety of evidence-based strategies and programs designed to help students improve their scores on the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment, which measures achievement on Common Core State Standards.  

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 theWashBoard.org, a free, web-based scholarship clearinghouse for Washington residents and students attending Washington colleges. There are over 230,000 registered scholarship seekers and more than $40 million in available scholarship awards for 2014-15.

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. The program focuses on successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards.