Can’t Wait

A bold fundraising campaign for social justice, economic opportunity, and community recovery.

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Campaign Overview

Our region will add hundreds of thousands of jobs in the next five years, and according to an estimate by the Washington Roundtable, 70 percent will require some sort of post-secondary credential — an associate's degree, a bachelor's, a professional certificate. Yet, at present only 41 percent of Washington's high-school grads earn such a credential by age 26 — and among young people who are Black, Brown or lower-income, the percentage is even lower. With nearly half the under-18 population in Seattle and King County made up of people of color, the implications for economic opportunity and social justice are immense.

The Seattle Colleges — South, Seattle Central and North — educate nearly 32,000 students a year, including the great majority of the city's people of color and first-generation college students. Yet many students from these populations don't pursue post-secondary education (with us or anyone). And — whether their goal is a credential or a transfer elsewhere — too many who do enroll don't finish.

Galvanized by injustices exposed in the pandemic and our community's ongoing racial reckoning, Equity Can’t Wait is an urgent initiative by Seattle Colleges to go further, faster in our mission to prepare people of every background for success in life and work. The $50 million campaign will help more students enroll and flourish at our schools, and ultimately gain a foothold toward a brighter future.

The campaign is guided by three urgent goals — to support students, power innovation, and strengthen capacity.

Take a look at the overview case statement for our campaign.




Support Students

Affordable tuition can open the door to college, but walking through and succeeding often takes added support. Many students manage school, parenting, and work, a precarious balance with challenges like food insecurity, housing insecurity, and homelessness.

You can help students unlock their potential, learn new skills, and better prepare for the demands and opportunities in today’s workforce.

Top priorities:

  • Deliver fully on Seattle Promise, a program that — partly with help from Seattle residents — provides two years of free tuition and wraparound services to new grads of Seattle public high schools
  • Expand availability of scholarships and safety-net grants
  • Bridge the equity gap with targeted programs
  • Enhance staffing of student services

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Power Innovation

Seattle Colleges is a national leader in community college education. Over our five decades the colleges have nimbly adapted to our region’s ever-evolving economy and demographics and prepared tens of thousands of Seattleites for productive, contributing lives. People who started with us occupy almost every social role, including those that hold our community together in its hardest days: nurses, respiratory therapists, electricians, big-rig technicians, aviation mechanics, institutional chefs, early childhood educators, and more. 

Today new and unpredictable forces are bearing down on the community. With your help, Seattle Colleges will be there to help our city’s people meet the moment — whatever the future holds.

Top priorities:

  • Keep programs and curricula responsive to employer and community needs
  • Create flexible learning options, including micro-credentials and short-term training

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Strengthen Capacity

At the beating heart of our schools are our instructors, who cherish the role of teacher and take the personal interest in students that's seldom possible at institutions with bigger classes and other agendas like research. [Class sizes at the colleges average around 20.] Our future success will require recruiting and retaining more of these great teachers, as well as the committed staff who play equally vital roles as advisors, mentors and tutors. Critically, all these colleagues must reflect our community's rich diversity.

It matters, as well, what kinds of facilities we have for instruction and student services. Many of our classrooms and buildings are outmoded, and ill-suited to emerging instructional needs, including simultaneous online/in-person teaching. Part of the Equity Can't Wait campaign is making a start on upgraded or new facilities.

Top priorities:

  • Support the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff through professional development funds and teaching and service awards
  • Create the physical infrastructure for future-facing education

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