Helping Southwest Washington Prosper
The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington connects and supports donors, nonprofits and students across our great region. Serving in this role put us in a unique position to identify and address the primary barriers keeping our neighbors from achieving prosperity. One such challenge is the high cost of earning a degree or other postsecondary certificate.
A recent study shows that nearly 90% of Washington high school students want to pursue a postsecondary program after graduation. Yet in 2021, only 50% of our state's high school seniors enrolled in a two- or four-year institution within a year of graduation. High tuition costs continue to be cited as the primary deterrent to postsecondary attendance, especially for those with greater financial need.
Unlocking Possibilities through Education
This was true for Martin Estrada Alvarez. Martin is a first-generation Latino student whose parents encouraged him to study hard and go to college, but they didn’t have the means to pay his way. To keep driving toward his goal, Martin planned to attend a more affordable community college. Then, a local university offered him a partial soccer scholarship. He seized the opportunity.
Even with an athletic scholarship, Martin still had to find additional financial aid to cover his remaining tuition. To avoid excessive loan debt, Martin chose to apply for more scholarships. That’s when he discovered the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington and applied to a few of the many scholarships we manage.
His academics were strong, but not enough to earn an award at first. That’s when our General Scholarship Committee received his application. They recognized the many personal hurdles Martin had overcome while maintaining good grades, and they rewarded his drive with $2,500 from our General Scholarship Fund.
Awarding Students Excelling Against All Odds
Like other scholarships, it assesses academic achievements and potential. However, it also recognizes the personal hurdles students have overcome, such as financial instability, language barriers, family emergencies, disabilities and more. Through this holistic approach, our General Scholarship Committee identifies exceptional applicants whose accolades might otherwise get overlooked or undervalued. It made all the difference for Martin, and you can hear why by watching his story.
Martin is one of several General Scholarship recipients we are highlighting this Giving Tuesday. Many of these incredible students shared that the General Scholarship Fund made earning their degree or certificate possible. The educational dreams of 28 students are becoming a reality today because of giving people like you, and we hope to extend that same support to 40 students next year.
Be the Key, Open Doors for Local Students
You can help unlock the possibilities for future students with a gift to the General Scholarship Fund. The data shows we must do more to help students achieve their postsecondary aspirations. So, join our year-end push to help us expand support for underserved and overlooked students in our region. Together, we can ensure more local students open doors to higher education and advance prosperity in southwest Washington.