What’s It Take to Stay in College in the Midst of a Pandemic?

By United Way of King County, on March 18, 2021 | In Covid-19, Helping Students Graduate, News

Thousands of community college students in King County face a tough decision each month – “Can I afford to stay in school?”

This pandemic and the economic crisis it’s created has shined a light on so many existing inequities. Because of centuries of structural racism, people of color have been disproportionately impacted—both from a health and economic standpoint. And people who are highly educated have been much less impacted; 29% of people in King County filing for unemployment in the last 12 months have a high school education or less.  

King County workers filing new unemployment claims by education level, March 15, 2020 – February 27, 2021

chart depicting the % of workers filing claims for unemployment, by education level
Data source: KingCounty.gov

The numbers are big—and the individual student stories are real. Recently a group of educators, donors and United Way staff came together with special guest Mayor Jenny Durkan to discuss progress made supporting college students and the gaps that still need to be filled. 

Bridge to Finish helps college students get the services they need to stay in school and complete their education. At 10 community colleges across the county, students have access to one-time emergency grants, housing support, tax help, food pantries and financial coaching. And they’re persisting at higher rates because of it (12% for students of color, 9% overall).

Gordon McHenry talks about United Way of King County’s Bridge to Finish Program:

Hundreds of college students are receiving weekly food deliveries to help make ends meet while they pursue their education. Mayor Durkan thanked United Way for their quick response to food insecurity at the outbreak of COVID-19.

Mayor Jenny Durkan talks about United Way of King County’s Bridge to Finish Program:

We continue to raise money so that more students can be helped. Sr. Director Lauren McGowan shares a bit about United Way’s role and how ongoing financial support will make a difference.

Lauren McGowan talks about United Way of King County’s Bridge to Finish Program:


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