Press Release

Tacoma Housing Awarded $135,000 grant from College Spark

May 11, 2018

TACOMA– College Spark Washington recently awarded Tacoma Housing Authority $135,000 to further evaluate the effectiveness of its 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. 

College Spark announced $1.5 million in Community Grants with projects ranging from professional development for middle school math teachers to implementing corequisite models, programs that enroll students into college-level courses with mandatory support, at two- and four-year colleges around the state.

The annual, competitive statewide Community Grants Program focuses on building the effectiveness of grantees working with low-income students in middle school, high school and college by funding new and promising practices that help students become college-ready and transition successfully to college. 

“Even though most living-wage jobs require a college degree or credential, far too many Washington students either don’t have the opportunity to go to college or face daunting challenges when they get there,” said Christine McCabe, Executive Director at College Spark. “These programs were selected because they have the potential to improve persistence and completion rates for low-income students, leveling the playing field for social mobility.”

This year’s twelve grantees will measure results using at least one of the following indicators of future college success:

  • Middle School Math: Improve math achievement in middle school, one measure of which is the rate of students earning a 3 or higher on the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
  • Early Warning Indicators: Decreasing the number of middle school students who trigger two of three early warning indicators: five or more absences per semester, course failure, or suspension or expulsion.
  • Remedial Education: Decreasing the rate of students who are required to enroll in remedial, noncredit-bearing courses in college.
  • College Math and English: Increasing the rate of students who earn their first college-level credits in English or Math. 

Research on efforts to expand the demographics of students who experience middle school math success consistently points to the presence of high-quality professional development for teachers as a critical difference between efforts that lead to improvements and those that do not.  Bethel and Kennewick School Districts and the Olympic Educational Service District will provide professional development to help teachers transition from instructional practices that primarily build procedural fluency to those that additionally foster improved conceptual understanding of mathematics.  

Since 2005, College Spark’s Community Grants Program has awarded more than 100 Community Grants totaling nearly $18 million.

Visit College Spark’s  2018 Community Grants webpage for a full list of grantees and project descriptions.