At a time when high school students are considering their options, the Community Colleges of Spokane has been awarded an $89,546 state grant in a competitive process to help Running Start students with the costs of attending community college.
Running Start is a dual enrollment program in which students earn a high school diploma and college credit at the same time. College tuition is covered by state funding, but this new grant can pay for books and fees and, if they happen to enroll in a technical career program, the grant can help with tools, lab and course fees and even work clothes.
Spokane Community College and Spokane Falls Community College were two of six community colleges in the state to receive the Running Start scholarships. The colleges were judged on their partnerships with k-12 schools, commitment by college leadership to increase participation by low-income students, the strength of their course offerings and their COVID-19 response.
“Receiving this additional scholarship money will help us support more students and help create equitable opportunities for students accessing the Running Start program,” said Jessica Dempsey, dual enrollment manager at SCC. “By reducing financial barriers, students can choose the educational pathway that best fits their future career aspirations.”
The other colleges selected for the Fall 2020 state scholarships for Running Start were Everett College, Green River College, Highline Colleges and Skagit Valley College.
The pilot scholarship program actually began with the 2019 Washington Legislature which authorized it to start in Fall 2019 with 17 high schools statewide and then be implemented at only three colleges – Clark College, Eastern Washington University and Whatcom College – in winter or spring quarter 2020. The 2020 legislative session expanded the pilot project and the six colleges were selected.
Running Start students at SCC and SFCC have their own team of staff advocates available to help them find tutoring, counseling and other academic support they may need.
The program is designed to encourage student enrollment in post secondary education and to reduce the time and cost of a post secondary degree.
SCC was one of the first schools in the state to expand its Running Start program to a Running Start for Careers pathway, meaning high school students can also pursue certificates and degrees in automotive technology, cosmetology, criminal justice, culinary arts, fire science, machining, electronics, HVAC, information technology, welding and others while earning a high school diploma from their local high school.