Bridge to Finish

Bridge to Finish helps low-income students get the services they need to stay in school and complete their education.

Donate to help students succeed

Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab visited United Way of King County to talk about financial help that’s needed so students can finish college.

Poverty makes staying in school tough.

At community college—where more than half of students are low-income—it can be especially challenging.

Community colleges are the most affordable way for low-income people to complete their education, yet fewer than half of community college students earn a credential.

Bridge to Finish helps low-income students get the services they need to stay in school and complete their education.

Who attends community colleges?


*People who have experienced homelessness over the last year

How It Works

The program is staffed by a variety of professional staff, AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA members and other direct service providers. This group reflects the diversity of the student body; services are offered in multiple languages. We’ve combed the country for best practices, surveyed students, met with college leaders and piloted a program in four colleges. The result is a program with these key components:

  • One-time emergency grants. From eviction prevention to car repair, we’re offering emergency grants that help students stay in school. These grants are coordinated with other financial assistance and resources to ensure this one-time help supports long-term success.
  • Easy access. Easy access. We make this a one-stop experience for students. We’re on campus in prominent, convenient locations (we call them Benefits Hub)—and open a variety of hours.
  • Variety of services. Financial tools are the foundation of the program. Depending on the campus, the food pantry may be what draws students in—or the financial workshops. Students can access coaching, assistance with financial aid, public benefit enrollment, and much more.

Success to Date

We’ve seen how 1:1 connections with staff and one-time financial support allows students to overcome the barriers they’re facing and stay in school. Successes include:

  • Supporting students at nine community colleges. Your support has allowed this work to expand from a pilot program on four campuses serving 400 students to nine campuses serving 5,347 low-income students in 2019.
  • Completion and persistent rates are improving.  On average, students who accessed Bridge to Finish services in Summer and Fall of 2019  persisted at a 9% higher rate than other students. For students of color, it was even higher: 12%.
  • Students are accessing multiple services. On average, students access three interventions throughout the year. This demonstrates that students are finding value in the wide range of services, from mental health support to homelessness prevention to financial coaching.


  • Increase completion rates. We will focus on serving first generation students, students of color and working parents.
  • Influence public policy. With so many students struggling with hunger and homelessness, we are advocating for all community college students to have the financial resources they need to persist and complete. This includes access to food, housing, and emergency grants.
  • Improve measurement. We’re working with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and have added a new measure to track completion rates of participants.

Bridge to Finish Honor Roll

$1 Million +

  • The Ballmer Group

$500,000 +

  • ECMC Foundation
  • Nordstrom
  • Brad Smith and Kathy Surace-Smith
  • Microsoft

$100,000 – $499,999

  • Jon and Bobbe Bridge
  • Jon Fine and Paula Selis
  • Don Guthrie and Candace Tkachuck
  • Michael and Mary Kay Hallman
  • John C. & Karyl K. Hughes Foundation
  • Rajesh Jha and Sudha Mishra
  • Premera Blue Cross
  • Raman Family Foundation
  • Andrew Shuman and Sara Dickerman
  • The Smith Family
  • Robert L. and Mary Ann T.* Wiley
  • Laurie Minsk and Jerry Dunietz

$25,000 – $99,999

  • Bank of America Foundation
  • BECU
  • David and Cathy Habib Foundation
  • Cassie and Chris Lenderman
  • Bruce and Jeannie Nordstrom
  • Kevin and Karen Smith
  • Symetra
  • Wells Fargo
  • Elizabeth Hebert and the Petunia Charitable Foundation
  • Todd and Ruth Warren

$10,000 – $24,999

  • Greg and Anne Adams
  • Dave and DeeAnn Burman
  • Bradley Dillon
  • Adrian Hanauer and Khanh Tran
  • Gordon McHenry, Jr. and Dorina Calderon-McHenry
  • Pamela Smith Mentz and David Mentz
  • Chuck Nordhoff and Maribeth O’Connor
  • Lucy and Herb Pruzan
  • Safeco Insurance
  • Ramamurthy and Meera Suresh
  • UPS
  • Doug and Barb Herrington