College completion in the pandemic

By United Way of King County, on November 19, 2021 | In Helping Students Graduate

At area community colleges—where more than half of students are low-income—it’s been especially challenging to stay in school during this economic crisis. Basic expenses like food, transportation, housing—and for many, childcare—can easily squeeze out tuition and books.

With education being the pathway out of poverty, it doesn’t make sense that students would need to choose between basic needs and completing college.

Thanks to hundreds of individual donors and support from Microsoft, Nordstrom, Symetra and Premera Blue Cross, our Bridge to Finish team has been on ten campuses around King County helping thousands of students stay in school with emergency grants and other financial support.

The team gathered last week to share the progress:

  • Nearly 6,000 students received support in the 2020-21 school year, allowing them to continue their education
  • More than $1 million in emergency grants provided to meet student needs
  • More than 600 students received rental assistance
  • Helping thousands of students stay connected with Comcast, Internet Essentials
  • Students received hot meal delivery during finals week via a partnership with DoorDash
  • Easy online and mobile application for emergency grants with Edquity app

Aanya* was studying to be a dental hygienist at Seattle Central College and fell behind on rent during the pandemic. She knew how difficult living in her car would make staying up on her schooling. Aanya worked with the on-campus team to receive an emergency grant and was able to maintain housing. She’s since transferred to the University of Washington’s dental hygiene program and is looking forward to starting a new career soon.

“This program has been a game changer for thousands of students”

Lauren McGowan, Associate VP, Ending Homelessness & Poverty

Because of systemic racism throughout the education system, education opportunities for people of color are limited; nearly half of our area community college students are people of color. We work hard to reach BIPOC students with these services; currently 76% of people receiving Bridge to Finish support identify as BIPOC.

What’s Next? With the support of the ECMC Foundation, we are scaling our work to address student basic needs locally and develop a model for replication to support students outside of King County.

Want to learn more and support this work? Find details here.
Looking for support to stay in school? Get more information here.

*Student’s name has been changed for privacy reasons


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