Community Grants Program

The College Spark Washington Community Grants Program is an annual, competitive statewide program focused on building the effectiveness of grantees that have demonstrated experience serving low-income students and generating knowledge related to college readiness in middle school and successful transition to college. Between 2005-2017, College Spark Washington awarded more than 100 Community Grants totaling over $18 million.

Since 2013, all projects that receive Community Grants funding measure their impact with one or more of 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 middle school, high school, and 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, a 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 College Spark Washington’s revised Community Grants Program:

  • Download the 2017 Request for Proposals (RFP).
  • Attend a webinar about our giving guidlines, priorities, and appication process. Email to register for an "Intro to Community Grants" webinar on July 13, 2017 at 2:00 P.M.
  • Scroll down for more information about promising practices for improving Community Grants Program outcome indicators.
  • Sign up for our College Spark Washington Update at              

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. We do not recommend any of the following approaches more or less than the others, and this is not a comprehensive list of all potential strategies that could be eligible for funding. 

 Middle School Math

  • Response-to-Intervention:  Expanded access to algebra courses coupled with assessments of which students will need extra support and systems to provide that support during the school day.
  • Double Dose:  Changing the structure of the school day to include two periods of math.
  • Flipped Classrooms:  Providing the bulk of lecture outside of school hours and using class time for student work.
  • Improved Instructional Practice:  Increased use of demonstration, narrative, manipulatives, small group work, and multimodal teaching.

 Early Warning Indicators

  • Alternative Discipline Policies:  Using service learning, restorative justice, and other alternatives to suspension/expulsion.
  • Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS):  Consistent teaching of behavior expectations, proactively structuring the environment to minimize negative behaviors, and using data to assign students to evidence-based intervention.
  • Increased Rigor:  Raising expectations for the difficulty of coursework students can master.
  • Improved Family Engagement:  Developing systems for partnering with parents and guardians to set and achieve student goals.
  • School-Based Coaching:  Use of paid staff or highly trained volunteers working daily in the school building to use data to identify students for one-on-one work with goal setting, planning, and connecting to additional services as needed.
  • Zero “0” Policies:  Requiring students to complete all course work, typically by creating a lunch period or study hall they must attend until all missing work is complete.

 Decreasing Developmental Education

  • Corequisite Remediation: Enrolling students directly into college-level courses and giving them extra support as needed rather than requiring prerequisite developmental course enrollment
  • Increased Rigor:  Improving the content knowledge and academic skills of students while they are in high school by providing more challenging course work.
  • Alignment:  Improving the degree to which the course content and skill expectations of the K-12 system match the requirements colleges have for what students will be able to do upon enrollment.
  • College Placement Reforms:  Developing systems for using multiple measures (including high school GPA and transcript analysis) for course placement rather than relying only on a placement test.
  • Early Test Prep/Remediation:  Giving college placement tests to high school students and providing remediation to low-scoring students during high school.

 Increasing 1st College-Level Credits in Math/English

  • Dual Enrollment: Opportunities for students to earn college credits while they are still in high school
  • Student Success Courses:  Required classes that teach study skills and academic planning
  • Acceleration:  Systems to move students through developmental education sequences more quickly, such as creating short content modules students can complete at their own pace.
  • Contextualization: Teaching remedial English and mathematics content in with material that is connected to specific career and degree pathways.