Boeing has made a $100,000 grant to Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS). The funding supports scholars in the Career and Technical Scholarship (CTS) program who are enrolled in post-secondary programs at community and technical colleges across Washington State.
The grant will help WSOS replicate the successful student support services in its Baccalaureate program for scholars in its recently launched CTS program. These services connect scholars with an advisor from the first day of their program, which promotes student retention, completion and transition to employment following graduation.
“We believe in helping students pursue their education at Washington colleges and universities so they are prepared for careers with local companies, like Boeing,” said Joelle Denney, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of Human Resources, and WSOS board member, “We continue to invest in our – and our community’s – future here in Washington. Investing in diverse talent and our communities is important to us, and we are proud to have been one of the launch funders of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship.”
Launched in 2011 with $25 million contributions from Boeing and Microsoft and matched by the State of Washington, the WSOS program was created to connect students with high potential to careers in Washington’s leading industries. In its first years of operation, WSOS focused on scholarships for diverse, first-generation college students pursuing Baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. In 2019, WSOS launched the CTS program that provides scholarships for high-need students in programs such as welding, manufacturing and Information Technology at 34 career and technical colleges.
“Thanks to Boeing’s cornerstone partnership, the idea of what Opportunity Scholarship could be became a reality,” said Kimber Connors, WSOS executive director. “Because of Boeing’s trust in our ability to grow, WSOS was able to expand to support apprenticeships, associate degrees and certificates through the CTS. And now, with this newest $100,000 gift, Boeing is showing up for Opportunity Scholars again – this time, to ensure that our recipients in the CTS receive the same excellent support services that students in our flagship program receive. The leadership of Boeing employees combined with the generous financial commitment of the company has been instrumental in our ability to prepare Washington students for Washington jobs.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WSOS is preparing for a significant increase in scholarship applications over the next 12 months and anticipating a new emphasis on distance learning for students who need to work part-time while pursuing an in-demand credential. The majority of the support services for students will be conducted virtually, given the statewide distribution of students.
Scholarships support diverse low- and middle-income students facing financial barriers to pursuing post-secondary education: 67% of scholars are students of color, 57% are women and 82% are the first in their family to go to college. Almost 9,000 scholars have been supported to date: 4,125 scholars have graduated with a baccalaureate degree and 4,829 scholars are currently receiving scholarships.
“I don't know what I would have done if I didn't receive this scholarship,” said Carter Carter, Boeing employee and WSOS scholar. “That was the difference between being able to afford college and not going to college for me."
By Catherine Rudolph