Monthly Archives: April 2016

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    States and Local Leaders Join the Push for Free Community College

States and Local Leaders Join the Push for Free Community College

April 25th, 2016|

Featured on the White House Blog

Since the beginning of this Administration, President Obama has vowed to make working families a priority and create ladders of opportunity, including an affordable education.

Community colleges offer not only a critical opportunity to earn a college degree, but serve as a prerequisite to meeting the demands of today’s competitive global economy. Serving over 7 million students, America’s more than 1,100 community colleges make up the backbone of our nation’s postsecondary education and training system. During his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled the America’s College Promise, a proposal to make two years of community college free for responsible students. In his announcement, the President laid out a vision for free community college that can be achieved through shared responsibility from states, schools, employers, non-profits, students, and families.

At least 27 new free community college programs have launched in states, local communities, and individual community colleges since the President’s 2015 State of the Union address. Collectively, these new programs add over $70 million in new public and private investments to serve nearly 40,000 students at community colleges. Seventeen other states have introduced legislation to make community college free nation-wide.

States and communities are demonstrating that there is a range of thoughtful and effective ways to design tuition-free programs customized to local and state skills needs, funding opportunities, and shared community goals. This progress makes it clear that providing responsible students with a fair shot at attending a community college is a bipartisan issue – from Woodlands, TX to Los Angeles, CA – and that leaders from both sides of the aisle are paving the way for progress.

Here’s a look at what leaders from across the country are saying about their work to provide free community college for responsible students:


“By creating an endowment that guarantees free community college in perpetuity regardless of income or academic success, kindergarteners and their parents know that an opportunity for a better education and a better life is their destiny, and they can begin preparing themselves for it.  The Tennessee Promise isn’t just a college access program, it fundamentally changes our states culture and what we can hope for and expect for ourselves and our children.”

Commissioner Randy Boyd



“I’ve received countless phone calls and letters from parents who’ve shared they had to tell their child they simply couldn’t afford college; it’s a heartbreaking conversation that no family should be forced to have. At a time when so many jobs require a college degree to even be considered, making higher education affordable and accessible to every student who earns admission is not just some fantasy – it’s essential to our families and our economy.”  

Assemblyman James Skoufis



“A year of community college is a lot cheaper than a lifetime of food stamps.”

Senator Mark Hass



“The Washington Promise is about giving Washingtonians access to the tools they need to fulfill their own potential. Access to two tuition free years of community or technical college will bridge the gap between need and skill in the workforce, build on already successful programs such as Washington’s College Bound Scholarship and create attainable rungs in the ladder of upward mobility for our young people looking to advance on a career path.”

Senator David Frockt


“Opening the door to free community college is a proven way to boost high school graduation rates and provide families with a ladder to improved careers and security.”

Representative Gerry Pollet



“The jobs of the 21st will require more than a high school diploma. Many family supporting jobs can be obtained through degrees from two-year community colleges. Americans should be able to achieve a middle class life without being buried under a mountain of student loan debt.”

Representative Cory Mason



“Universal access to higher education for Americans will provide a true way for us to improve our country. Free tuition for community college in America is a necessary first step that can help us to defeat chronic cycles of poverty, and in many cases defeat hopelessness, for vast numbers of our people. I’m honored to be a part of this movement with the President.”

Senator Josh Green

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    Inslee signs bill to continue expansion of educational opportunities for homeless children

Inslee signs bill to continue expansion of educational opportunities for homeless children

April 1st, 2016|

TACOMA – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed a bill into law that will continue to boost educational outcomes for homeless children. He was joined by housing advocates, students and legislators at McKinley Elementary in Tacoma which has a large number of homeless students.

HB 1682 will improve outcomes for homeless students through funding for shelters, transitional and short-term housing, and emergency beds for homeless kids and young adults.

“This bill acknowledges the enormous challenges these kids and their families face every day. It prioritizes educational outcomes for homeless kids and gets to work doing something about making them better,” Inslee said. “This is good for children. This is good for families. This is good for our communities.”

The bill builds upon millions of dollars of investments for homeless families since 2013. Funds in the supplemental budget include $2 million dollars for setting up  HB 1682-authorized programs at the Department of Commerce and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, roughly $4 million for other support services for homeless youth and $7.4 million in spending authority for the Consolidated Homeless Grant, adding to the $35 million of funding in the 2015–17 biennial budget. That new appropriation includes $787,000 for youth-specific grants.

“We have a homelessness crisis here in Washington, and the fact that more than 35,000 students lack safe and reliable housing is a moral failing on our part,” said bill sponsor Rep. Jay Fey (D-Tacoma). “With the signing of this bill today we can begin to right that wrong and improve the lives of thousands of young people in our state.”

“Almost every classroom in Washington has a homeless student at a desk,” said Sen. David Frockt, (D-Seattle). “That is why, with advocates at Columbia Legal Services and a team of law students from the University of Washington, we began work three years ago to tackle this crisis head-on in order to supplement the inadequate resources provided by the federal government.  Homeless students constitute a significant part of our state opportunity gap, with very low graduation rates. Throughout the debate on this bill, we heard from homeless students who had succeeded whenever they could find a little bit of support. I am thrilled that, through this legislation, we will be expanding these efforts to reach more kids who need the help.˝

“The Tacoma Housing Authority counts its partnership with Tacoma Public Schools as central to its housing mission,” said Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority. “If we can spend a housing dollar to not only house families but also to help their children succeed in school, it is a very good use of a housing dollar. HB 1682 will help strengthen our partnership and help build such partnerships in other communities.”