Connecting Students with Resources to Stay and Thrive in School.
Poverty can make things tough. At community college—where more than half of the students live below the poverty line and are people of color—staying in school can be especially challenging. In fact, 48% of community college students left school due to cost-of-living expenses. United Way is dedicated to helping students graduate. We provide support through our Bridge to Finish program to address the challenges they face—well before those issues become barriers to graduation.
Bridge to Finish is designed to meet students at their points of need swiftly, without the bureaucratic red tape that often diminishes hopes. Staffed by both student ambassadors and AmeriCorps coaches, services like one-time emergency cash grants, housing support, tax help, financial coaching, and more, are easily accessible through locations called Benefits Hubs on 10 King County community college campuses.
At a Glance
5,700 students received support in the 2022-2023 school year to allow them to continue their education
30,000+ connections to resources and support were provided
Bridge to Finish participants were 25 percentage points more likely to persist and/or complete a credential than non-participants.
How It Works
There are 10 “Benefits Hubs” locations on community and technical college campuses throughout King County. Benefits Hubs are staffed by AmeriCorps members, who help increase the availability and awareness of basic needs resources. Each location offers services that include one-time emergency grants, housing support, tax help, food pantries and financial coaching to empower students to stay in school and complete their education.
1. Proactive efforts on each campus aim to ensure students know that if they need help, it’s available—from emergency grants to food and more.
2. If a student needs help, the campus location is a one-stop place for them to get it. Support is offered at convenient hours and in multiple languages. During the pandemic, help was available through an online portal.
3. Help is provided swiftly—from food being available to direct deposits of emergency grants, we know help often times can’t wait, so we provide it as fast as we can.
Based on our quarterly surveys, students who received Bridge to Finish support reported:
“All the help I received from this program and the Benefits Hub saved my life and my future.
I don’t have people in my family who understand what it takes to pursue a college degree and live a stable life. After making the decision to pursue my accomplishments through college, things got extremely hard, until financial assistance, wise guidance and life coaching from the Benefits Hub supported my education and the pursuit of positive happiness while achieving my goals. This was a pure blessing for me.”
—Akiel Joseph-Taylor, community college student
Advocacy in Action
United Way has been an active advocate for the passage of the Postsecondary Basic Needs Act (HB1559), which provides funding for basic needs navigators at all public two- and four-year institutions. This is a crucial step toward addressing barriers and supporting students to help them pursue a higher education. Our Bridge to Finish Benefits Hubs were used as the model and proof of concept for this legislation.
We believe that everyone deserves to have easy access to all the resources they need to get the education they deserve. Looking for help? United Way’s community-wide network of education programs can help set you up for educational success.
Real People. Real Stories.
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Support Our Work
Our goal is to increase college completion rates for all students—with a focus on serving first generation students, students of color, and working parents. With your support, we can help more of them. Every dollar counts.