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King County Promise Legislation Passed

RENTON, Wash. -- On August 28, 2019, the Martin Luther King County Council passed historic legislation investing $318 million to improve educational outcomes for children and youth over the next 16 years. The investment, funded through voter-approved Sound Transit 3 proceeds, supports King County children and youth across the entire age spectrum, from early learning through postsecondary completion.  

Of the $318 million investment in the King County Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA):

  • $153.8 million will support the development of early learning facilities
  • $29.6 million will support community-based organizations working with students in the K–12 grades
  • $112.4 million will go to the King County Promise, which provides advising support for underserved high school and college students to get them to and through college
  • $22.6 million will be reserved for administration and evaluation

Studies show that “promise” programs, when they provide increased access to financial support, advising and removal of system barriers, lead to significant improvements in retention, especially for students who are first in their families to attend college, and students who are most impacted by poverty and racism.  The recently-released Let Us Succeed report, based on survey results of more than 7,000 youth of color and first-generation college students across South King County, showed that 96 percent want to earn a postsecondary credential, yet face significant barriers and need more robust advising.  

“We are going to change the game for students in this region, ensuring that our systems are easier to navigate and that students are more equitably supported in their pursuit of postsecondary education,” stated Kyla Lackie, Director of Postsecondary Readiness at Puget Sound College & Career Network (PSCCN). 

The King County Promise is a broad-based effort of hundreds of students, educators, community-based organizations and systems leaders collaborating since 2017, staffed by the PSCCN and championed by the Puget Sound Coalition for College & Career Readiness. PSCCN works with students, educators, community organizations, schools, districts, colleges and state-level organizations to remove barriers so that students of color, first-generation college students, and students impacted by poverty have the opportunity and support to access and obtain postsecondary credentials. 

“Through King County Promise, we now have an incredible opportunity to impact the young people who have been underserved in our region; the legacy left by this work will be more equitable policies and practices, leading to a transformation of the educational student support system and equipping young people with the degrees and credentials to empower them to be key parts of our local economy,” stated Mercy Daramola, Manager of PSCCN.

“Our region’s college access and completion system will be among the strongest in the nation and will serve as a model for equitable and highly-supportive systems for student success,” said Kevin McCarthy, President of Renton Technical College and Co-Chair of the Puget Sound Coalition for College & Career Readiness.  

The Coalition thanks the King County Council for this substantial investment in young people who have been historically underserved. Approximately 45 percent of the $112.4 million invested in the King County Promise will go to K–12 supports ($50.6 million), 45 percent to postsecondary supports ($50.6 million), and 10 percent to community-based organizations working with students of color, first-generation college students, and students impacted by poverty ($11.2 million).  

“We are thrilled that the Council has made such a substantial investment in postsecondary advising through the King County Promise,” said Danika Martinez, Program Director for Seattle Education Access. “This is an opportunity for us as a community-based organization to work alongside school districts and higher education to provide more supports for young people across King County.”

In passing this legislation, the Council specified that PSTAA-funded programs must support students in “vulnerable and underserved populations,” including children and youth of color; those who are impacted by poverty or homelessness; are in the foster care, child welfare, or juvenile justice system; have disabilities; identify as LGBTQ; or are otherwise vulnerable children and youth. Further, community-based organizations funded by PSTAA will be led by employees with lived experiences similar to those of students in the opportunity gap.

Over the next eight months, PSCCN and the Coalition will collaborate with community-based organizations, school districts and colleges across the region to develop an implementation plan for the King County Promise. The Coalition looks forward to continuing to work with partners across the county, including community-based organizations, to eliminate racial opportunity gaps.

Archive

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On September 1, 2020, the Martin Luther King County Council approved the implementation plan for historic legislation investing $318 million to improve educational outcomes for children and youth over the next 15 years. The investment, funded through voter-approved Sound Transit 3 proceeds, supports King County children and youth across the entire age spectrum, from early learning through college, career and technical education completion.

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