Member Spotlight

Spokane group works to support greater college access

“If we are to secure the future prosperity of our city, county and state as a whole, we must prioritize and maximize our investments in education. To ensure that more students are graduating from college, the alarming high school dropout trends must be arrested and the college- and work-readiness of all students must dramatically improve,” said City of Spokane Mayor, Mary Verner.

Describe the geographic region and student population served by the Spokane College Access Group.

Spokane, a city whose name to the early Native Americans meant "Children of the Sun", is located in eastern Washington. A river of the same name runs through Spokane, the second largest city in our state.

With four medical centers and five universities and colleges located in and around the city, Spokane serves as the health care and higher education hub of the Inland Northwest. Spokane is characterized as either a "big town" or a "small city," but everyone agrees its greatest resource are its people and its quality of life.

Spokane Public Schools (SPS) is the largest school district in eastern Washington. SPS includes a diverse population of 28,844 students (based on May 2009 enrollment):

American Indian/Alaskan Native 3.9%
Asian 2.7%
Black 4.1%
Hispanic 4.0%
Pacific Islander 1.1%
White 77.2%

53.5 percent of SPS students qualify for free or reduced-price meals (as of May 2009). English-language learners in our district speak more than 50 different languages, including Russian, Spanish, Marshallese, Vietnamese, Hmong, Bosnian, Ukrainian and Arabic.

According to www.collegetracking.com 64.2% of SPS high school graduates went directly into college after high school. That’s higher than the state average for that year, 2009, which was 59.4%.

When was the Spokane College Access Group formed?

In late spring of 2010 a small group of leaders from the City of Spokane’s Youth Department, Stand for Children Spokane Chapter, the Spokane County Regional Health District, Community Colleges of Spokane and the Washington College Access Group got together to figure out a plan of action to raise more awareness about K-12 education issues and to promote college access and better post secondary opportunities for all students.

Describe the mission and purpose of the Spokane College Access Group.

The Spokane College Access Group is a collaboration of organizations that promote college, career and citizenship readiness for all Spokane area students by encouraging higher two-year and four-year college enrollments of high school graduates and higher college and postsecondary graduation rates.

The group supports the Spokane Public Schools in their efforts to increase academic performance of students beginning in kindergarten, to eliminate the achievement gap, to reduce school dropout rates, and to increase Spokane area high school graduation rates.

SCAG’s emphasis is to aid students who have limited access to resources and opportunities, with special focus on low-income and under-represented students.

What organizations and agencies participate in the Spokane College Access Group?

The Spokane College Access Group collaboration includes Spokane Public School (SPS) officials and staff, City and County of Spokane staff, Greater Spokane Incorporated (the local chamber of commerce), community organizations and agencies, college access providers and college and university staff.

Describe the top goals and supporting activities of the Spokane College Access Group.

Recent efforts of the Spokane Group have focused on helping assure that all eligible Spokane 7th and 8th graders receive information and support to sign-up for Washington State’s College Bound Scholarship. Sign-up events have been held at Eastern Washington University and Spokane Falls Community College and more are planned for the upcoming year.

While still working to insure eligible students sign-up for the College Bound Scholarship, the Spokane Group is also committed to insuring that those students are supported. In November of 2010, they sponsored a region-wide College Bound conference for students and parents at Eastern Washington University. The half day event was attended by 150 students and parents who participated in workshops and activities focused on college prep and high school success.

What is the strategic focus of the Spokane College Access Group for the next year?

The Spokane College Access Group during the 2010-11 school year wants to actively engage with culturally diverse communities and work more closely with families in order to assure that once students have signed up for the College Bound Scholarship they receive the additional support needed throughout their high school years.

SCAG will continue to work closely with the Spokane Public Schools and those in the surrounding area to promote stronger academic preparedness so that students are more fully prepared to enter college and career work once they graduate from high school.

The group also works closely with WCAN grant recipient, the Communities in Schools of Spokane County to increase the number of support events for students and families participating in the College Bound Scholarship program. These events will be held throughout the year and target curriculum to specific grade levels. Professional development for school staff will also be offered, to inform them of requirements and procedures necessary to successfully access the College Bound Scholarship.

Created by the Spokane College Access Group

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Suite 1250
Tacoma, WA 98402

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