Linking Opportunity Scholarships to career and college STEM opportunities

This Seattle Times editorial concisely reflects Opportunity Washington’s thinking on the roadmap for increasing lifetime opportunities by expanding educational opportunity. The Times promotes the state’s Opportunity Scholarships, noting that they can make a critical difference in helping low-income students take advantage of critical training in STEM disciplines. The editorial reports:

Started in 2011 as a public-private partnership funded by businesses and the Legislature, the scholarship program is a strategy to help develop homegrown talent and fill a leaky pipeline to jobs specifically in the STEM and health-care fields.

So far, about 4,400 students from low- to middle-income households have received scholarships to attend public and private two- and four-year colleges statewide. More than two-thirds of the 900 Opportunity Scholarship graduates so far are working in their field or seeking an advanced degree.

These scholarships are just one of many tools the state is developing to address the skills gap and assure that great jobs are available to skilled Washingtonians.

Our Opportunity Washington: Priorities for Shared Prosperity research paper goes into more detail. Our priorities:

ACHIEVE: Provide a high-caliber education and workforce development system geared to the demands of the 21st century.

• Expand access to postsecondary education that boosts career opportunity and supports economic growth.

• Ensure all students graduate from high school career- and college-ready. • Drive interest and performance in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) among K-12 students and increase access to postsecondary STEM programs.

• Focus early learning assistance on children most at risk of entering kindergarten unprepared.

Success is within reach.