In the News

2021 Legislative Update

What did WSOS accomplish in the 2021 Washington State Legislative session?

The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) was created in 2011 through a unique, public-private funding model that commits the Washington State Legislature to match every private dollar raised for scholarships. For the past decade, WSOS has helped launch low-and middle-income students into high-demand industries, maximizing the return on investment for the state and building the talent pipeline our economy needs to thrive.  

Our work with the Legislature in 2021 brought big wins for WSOS. We worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Jamila Taylor of the 30th Legislative District (Federal Way) to expand scholarship eligibility for our Career and Technical Scholarship (CTS), particularly for nontraditional students, members of the military and rural residents. Our bill passed out of the Legislature with a unanimous vote – a strong, commitment of support for Opportunity Scholars and their futures.   

Jessica Monger, WSOS external affairs director, shares a look back at what we accomplished for Washington students.  

Could you share more about how WSOS works in collaboration with the Legislature? 

Every session we work with lawmakers to include the match for every private dollar raised in the state’s budget. This year, that meant more than $3.5 million was appropriated to continue critical support for our scholarship programs. We also collaborate with legislators to improve program efficacy and efficiency by modifying the statute governing our program. We are always trying to find ways to remove barriers and connect Washington residents to high-demand, family-wage careers in the trades, STEM and health care.  

How will the bill you worked on impact current and future Opportunity Scholars?  

House Bill 1425, championed by Rep. Taylor, makes important changes to the scholarship that funds community and technical college students pursuing certificate, degree and apprenticeship credentials. Thanks to the bill’s bipartisan support, CTS recipients will be required to be a Washington resident with a high school diploma or its equivalent instead of a resident and have earned their high school graduate or its equivalent in Washington. This change will help those who moved to Washington after high school but are now a resident and important contributor to our community. The change will enable more Washingtonians to use our scholarship to make a career pivot, reskill or return to work.  

In addition, Rural Jobs Initiative applicants can now attend any community or technical college campus, so long as they’re a resident of a rural county. This ensures rural residents can access  training and education without having to uproot from their communities. 

Can you share more about what it takes to get a bill through the Legislature? 

It can be a long and sometimes winding process. The process began last summer when we shared our desire to make our program more accessible to nontraditional and rural students with lawmakers from around the state. Throughout session, we met with many more lawmakers, testified on the bill in committee and worked with other stakeholders and legislative staff to make improvements in the language proposed.  

You can see a great video of Rep. Taylor advocating for our bill during a hearing in the video below. It takes many champions to turn a bill into law – and we are so grateful to everyone who made it happen for Washingtonians, our economy and our Scholars! 

How does it feel to have bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate? 

Our program is a promise to reduce barriers and launch careers, and we do so by supporting the futures of the low-income, first-generation and students of color who are often the furthest from opportunity. We find ways to bolster our economy by building a pipeline of talented, local students who are ready to start careers right here in Washington state. We have strong, bipartisan support because It’s a win-win-win for students, industry and Washington’s taxpayers.  

To everyone who helped advocate for Opportunity Scholars this session – THANK YOU! We can’t do this work without you!