Students will receive a maximum of $22,500 towards their in-state bachelor’s degree

Spokane, WA – A workforce development program unique to Washington is helping put high-demand college degrees within reach for 1,850 students from across the state— 120 of whom hail from the Spokane region.

Today Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) announced the 2017-18 awardees, who will receive up to $22,500 over five years along with additional skill-building and professional development support—all part of an unprecedented commitment by state government and private-sector employers to increase the number of homegrown graduates prepared for the jobs key to our economy.

Newly selected scholars come from every legislative district in the state. Fifty-seven percent are female, 64 percent identify as students of color, and an incredible 69 percent are the first in their family to attend college. All are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in approved majors in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and health care fields—where Washington companies remain critically short on talent.

"These students represent the future of our state," said Naria K. Santa Lucia, executive director for WSOS. “We are delighted to welcome them to the program and help support their success over the coming years.”

While the demand for talent in these fields remains high, so too does the need for financial aid, as low- and middle-income students continue to face overwhelming tuition and living costs 

WSOS received more than 4,000 applications—with more diversity than last year’s submitted applications. Washington STEM, which is the administrator and community partner to WSOS, supported the statewide effort to reach all eligible students.

This increase is a result, in part, of strategic collaboration with local STEM Networks, managed by Washington STEM.

Beginning last fall, partners in the Spokane STEM Network joined with WSOS to promote the scholarships and to increase the number local applicants. The 120 students were selected to receive the scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year, making them eligible to receive up to a total of $2,687,500 in scholarships throughout their time in college. Spokane Public Schools high schools saw the highest number of students selected to join the program.

Scholarship grantee, Devyn Fair, who is a senior at On Track Academy in Spokane shares, “I'm so thankful I was lucky enough to be accepted for this scholarship. Being in the STEM community has not only opened my eyes to the amazing careers I can go into, now this scholarship will assist me in attending college for these careers." We wish the rest of the students the best as they pursue their future careers in a STEM or health care field.

WSOS was created in 2011 to address both rising tuition costs and a lack of local STEM talent prepared for industry demands. Per the legislation that governs the program, the State matches private dollars raised by WSOS, including founding partners Microsoft and Boeing. To date, the program has raised nearly $98 million from the private sector.

The State has upheld their commitment in matching all private funds received so far.

More than 8,600 students have received support from WSOS and more than 2,400 have graduated since the program began. Eighty-three of graduates are employed or seeking an advanced degree in their field.

More than 90 percent took jobs here in Washington. 


About the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2011 to help local students from low- and middle-income families earn high-demand degrees and launch their careers in Washington.


About Washington STEM

At Washington STEM we work to increase STEM access, interest, and success for all students. We nurture and scale breakthrough ideas in STEM education and learning, engage in regional, cross-sector partnerships, and advocate for important policy changes to increase student success. We focus our efforts on four key initiatives: computer science, early math, science & engineering, and career-connected learning.

Our goal is to position all young people as “future ready” community members - people with the technical and critical skills needed to thrive in today’s jobs and create and excel in the unknown jobs of tomorrow; people who exemplify opportunity and create shared prosperity for our communities.


 

More information: Washington State Opportunity Scholarship