Education Equity Fund

Overcoming our nation’s deep roots in racism and inequality will require undoing layers of systems and structures that were built to keep people of color from access to opportunity.  But in order to improve educational outcomes for all, we must challenge the status quo and deeply consider what isn’t working, why and what can be done.

We believe in the wisdom of students and communities to shape their futures, and we recognize that there’s no one right answer to the education challenges communities face.  That’s why we plan to do more to encourage the ingenuity that lives within communities and to support community-designed and community-driven educational change across Washington.  These efforts will most likely look different in different communities.  Some ideas may challenge existing notions of what schools look like, and where and how learning happens.  But they will all share a common goal – that every student belongs, every student matters, and every student sees a future filled with possibility.   

Ingenuity lives within communities. That's why we plan to support community-designed and community-driven educational change across Washington.

Dismantling Barriers to Equity in Education

College Spark is inviting education institutions and nonprofit organizations in Washington state to submit a Letter-of-Interest (LOI) for grant funding to support work designed to dismantle barriers to equity in education for students in high school and at community and technical colleges. Project funding is available for work that has one or more of the following areas of focus: 

  • Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline in High School: Elimination or substantial reduction in the use of exclusionary discipline for all students and/or elimination or substantial reduction of the current racial disparity in rates of exclusionary discipline. Exclusionary discipline refers to expulsion, in-school suspension, and out-of-school suspension. 
  • Placement at Community and Technical Colleges: Changes to current placement policy and practice designed to eliminate the opportunity gap in the rate of students who are placed directly into credit-bearing, college-level English and math classes. We want students to have the opportunity to earn credit for the correct math course for their chose program of study, whether or not that course is a transferable math course. 
  • Community Centered Decision-Making: Efforts to change policy and practice in schools, districts, and colleges that facilitate a full, equal, and equitable partnership among families, educators, and community partners to promote student learning and flourishing. A wide range of projects can advance this goal, including but not limited to participatory research, co-design processes, student-led equity audits of policy, and organizing student and parent/community advocacy efforts.  
  • Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Pedagogy: Developing, refining, and/or implementing anti-racist and/or multicultural curriculum into core subjects, developing and implementing stand-alone ethnic studies courses, or removing/revising curriculum that contributes to racist outcomes for students. Any professional development efforts to promote culturally responsive pedagogy must be sustained over time and tied to educator practice.  
  • Anti-Racist Leadership Development: Sustained efforts to build the knowledge and skills necessary for teachers, principals, district leadership, and college administrators to implement practical applications of anti-racist theory that identify and dismantle racism within their educational institutions.   

Application Process and Timeline

The application process begins by submitting a pre-application Letter-of-Interest (LOI). College Spark uses an on-line application system for both the LOI and the Full Grant Proposal.  The LOI is available at  

  • LOIs are accepted on a rolling basis. There are no set deadlines for submission. The Board of Trustees meets and considers grant requests quarterly. 
  • All LOIs will be considered and applicants will be notified within 30 days of submission as to whether a full grant proposal is invited. 
  • We request that full grant proposals are submitted within 30 days of invitation to apply, unless an extension is requested by the applicant and approved by College Spark.  
  • At the time of submission, grant applicants will be notified of the anticipated date of approval or denial, which will typically be within 12 weeks. 
  • Funds are disbursed after both the applicant and College Spark finalize the project work plans and a signed grant agreement is returned to College Spark. This process typically takes about one month after grant approval. 
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to view a recorded informational webinar prior to submitting a LOI.  This webinar includes an explanation of our giving guidelines, selection criteria, and how to provide the most helpful responses to each LOI question. 

Eligibility for Funding Consideration

To be eligible to apply for College Spark funding, applicant organizations must have a staffed physical presence in Washington and be: 

  • Organized and operated for purposes described in IRC Section 501(c)(3), but excluding Type III Supporting Organizations; OR 
  • A university, college, school or other educational organization described in IRC Section 170(c)(1); OR 
  • A Public agency, unit of government, tribal government, or tribal program under IRC Section 7871. 

Have a Project Idea?  We’d Love to Hear From You.

If you have questions, need technical assistance to complete your application, or would like to discuss project ideas, we encourage you to contact Rachel Clements, Program Officer, by email to schedule a call or meeting at any time throughout the grant application process. We appreciate the opportunity to talk to applicants as they develop their project ideas, and it is never too early in the process to have a conversation about a potential partnership with College Spark. 

2023 Grantees

OneAmerica  — $150,000
OneAmerica is a statewide organizing and advocacy organization that launched, houses, and staffs Women of Color in Education (WoCE). WoCE was “founded in the belief that shifting power to people of color is essential to improving educational systems to ensure all kids succeed in school and life”.  WoCE will lead a project called Building A Pipeline for Multiracial School Board Leadership to support increased power for people of color on Washington school boards.  Over three years, the project will recruit, train, mentor and support women of color to run for school board seats across Washington and to help them govern with an equity lens during their terms.

Tacoma Public Schools — $90,000
Tacoma Public Schools will use grant funds for three strands of work to help realize its goals and formal policy commitments to be perpetually identifying, challenging, and changing the values, structures, and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism. The proposed project work plan includes professional learning, improvements to family and community engagement, and continuous improvement cycle work on equity goals.

Washington Ethnic Studies Now (WAESN)— $180,000
WAESN will use grant funds for the development of curriculum to be used by educators incorporating ethnic studies into their teaching practice.  The purpose in providing professional development in teaching ethnic studies is to help teachers develop their understanding of systemic racism in education so that they are able to address it and better support their students and colleagues of color. Their goal is to empower participants to become agents of change at their schools through learning about strategies for disrupting current racist systems.

Treehouse  — $180,000
Treehouse envisions and strives to create a world where every child that has experienced foster care has the opportunities and support they need to pursue their dreams and launch successfully into independence.  Treehouse will use grant funds to engage in the co-design, delivery, and refinement of trainings for foster caregivers and for adults in the child welfare and education systems on how to work together on the education needs of youth in foster care.

Washington State University, Vancouver  — $180,000
Washington State University Vancouver (WSU), in partnership with Vancouver Public Schools (VPS), is requesting grant support for an equity-focused principal preparation program for 20 future administrators of color in SW Washington. This new partnership between WSU and VPS will serve the growing and diversifying students of this community by taking a district-level, systems approach to antiracist leadership development. WSU plans to add participants from Evergreen Public Schools during the course of the grant term, as well as opening the program to participants from additional SW Washington districts.

2022 Grantees

Alliance for a Just Society  — $180,000
Communities for Our Colleges is a campaign launched by Alliance for Justice in 2020 to support on-campus student organizing and advocacy in Washington’s two-year colleges.  Grant support will help build campus organizing activities at Highline College, Shoreline College, and Yakima Valley College aimed at engaging students in the new state racial equity strategic planning process to ensure these plans include and reflect student priorities.  An additional goal is to build and refine a community-centered decision-making model for future organizing at other campuses.

Everett Community College — $174,000
Everett Community College will soon require that each program of study include courses that have equity and social justice outcomes.  The college’s Center for Transformative Teaching will use grant funds to develop a model of engaging students and faculty in building an assessment framework for courses that include those learning outcomes in order to determine whether the outcomes have been met.  Project work will include all 26 departments at the college working with an instructional designer to develop a plan for professional development that would allow their department to meaningfully assess Everett’s equity and social justice learning outcome and to make the anti-racist pedagogy shifts necessary to effectively satisfy that learning outcome at the course level.  Ten students will be engaged and compensated as members of the assessment committee.

Puget Sound Educational Service District — $180,000
The Puget Sound Educational Service District will develop, launch, refine, and expand an Anti-Racist Professional Growth and Leadership Institute.  Its purpose is to strengthen support for educators of color and to make schools more hospitable environments capable of retaining them.  Training will be developed and delivered by the 160 participants in the PSESD Educators of Color Leadership Community alongside their supervisors and other staff members wo are working to create climates that support educators of color.  Grant funding will also support a leadership and mentoring strand for teachers of color.  Once the Leadership Institute is developed and piloted, PSESD aims to scale the training across its service region of King and Pierce counties.

Seattle Central College — $180,000
Seattle Central College plans to revise its Basic and Transitional Studies (BTS) curriculum to make it more inclusive and culturally responsive.  BTS includes Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, high school completion, and GED.  About 85% of BTS students at SCC are BIPOC, and only about 10% transition to college-level courses after a year.  To better meet the needs of these students, SCC will assemble a team of faculty and students of color to guide a process of division-wide professional development and revision of curriculum to advance anti-racist teaching.  Planned topics for professional development include anti-racist teaching practices, identifying anti-racist materials, defining anti-racist course outcomes, and translating knowledge to practice.

Shoreline Public Schools — $150,000
Shoreline Public Schools will use grant funding to support the next steps in its racial equity and anti-racism professional learning and skill building for teachers and staff.  Activities to build a more anti-racist culture in its schools include: 1) establishing, staffing, and training support for Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) groups at two comprehensive high schools; 2) professional development for staff and families in family engagement, including deepening work with the University of Washington Family Leadership Design Collaborative; 3) building more reciprocal relationships with the Snoqualmie and Tulalip tribes, including district contributions towards educational opportunities and tribal needs; and 4) establishing a Cultural Broker Program for BIPOC, immigrant, and English non-dominant families to work with other families like them around navigating the school system while also supporting relationships between school and families that establish trust and relationships through shared goals for students.

South King County Discipline Coalition (Puget Sound) — $180,000
The South King County Discipline Coalition provides trainings and planning sessions for community members to learn about their rights in the education system and to collectively develop strategies for advocacy.  Experts in education advocacy, community organizing, and antiracist systems change provide training on strategy and tactics for parents.  Parent Coalition members choose both the focus and topics of trainings and collectively develop strategies for how to engage with and influence their district leadership and school boards.  The Coalition engages in district-level efforts to demand a shift away from punitive approaches to student behavior and towards restorative approaches designed to promote healthy, accountable relationships between schools, families, and the broader community.

Stand for Children  — $180,000
In order to support progress on equitable access to Academic Acceleration, Stand for Children will lead a learning cohort of school and district leaders from approximately 40 districts committed to adopting and implementing the policies required by HB1599, with an emphasis on how their leadership can systemically advance anti-racism and racial equity.  Convenings and individual work with districts will include state leaders who have been effective at developing and implementing acceleration policies with measurable equity improvements, districts that have not yet adopted policy language, and districts that have policy language but lack implementation plans.  Parents and students from participating districts will be active participants in a co-design process facilitated by Stand.  Stand for Children will provide policy monitoring, promising practice sharing, data analysis, and statewide communications support.

State Board for Community and Technical Colleges — $180,000
The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) will use grant funding to support the formation of a CTC-Tribal Advisory Board to strengthen relationships between tribal communities and the community and technical college system in Washington state.  The advisory board will consist of tribal, CTC, and community representatives including tribal elders and linguists.  The work of forming the CTC-Tribal Advisory Board includes identification and recruitment of members, writing bylaws, defining roles and responsibilities, and development of a strategic plan for the ongoing work of the Board.  The strategic plan will include CTC system-wide professional development and training, tribal consultation, expanded American Indian/Indigenous Studies programs, expanded career and technical education and workforce programs focused on the needs of tribes, and improved student services.

University of Washington, Center for Educational Leadership— $180,000
The Center for Educational Leadership (CEL) will develop professional learning resources that support school and central office leaders to center student experiences by using qualitative data to lead for equitable student experiences and outcomes.  CEL strives to disrupt inequities in education by putting the experiences of marginalized students at the center of teacher and leader professional learning.  Work will include: 1) developing protocols for school culture walk-throughs to help school leaders better understand the experiences of students furthest from justice; 2) developing protocols for student focus groups that help leaders better understand them; 3) developing a tool to help school leaders use qualitative data to make sense of student stories and translate them into action steps; 4) revising an inquiry cycle that incorporates student qualitative data into other data schools leaders are using; 5) developing a tool for helping central offices identify student-centered problems of practice.

Yakima School District— $180,000
The Yakima School District plans to launch and support a new program called the Superintendent Student Advisory Council Fellowship (SSAC).  The purpose of the fellowship is to reimagine the district’s thinking about student voice to make it more engaging, authentic, and transformative.  SSAC students will engage with district departments and leaders on making change in their district.  Students will meet with the Superintendent monthly to vision set, brainstorm, and build relationships.  They will choose a district partner to engage with in developing an action project, connect with students who have similar interests to implement their projects in groups, and have ongoing meeting with their district partner to receive information, develop skills, and get support in executing their plans.