Building A Better Washington Together: A letter from WSOS Board Chair Brad Smith & Executive Director Kimber Connors

In our state, postsecondary education is vital. Education is a passport to access our innovative and technology-driven economy. It’s necessary to earn a living wage. The means to house a family. A disruptor of generational poverty.

And yet, the numbers are still stacked against students in our state. We still have thousands too few people pursuing education after high school. The wage gap continues to grow, keeping those who’ve long been historically excluded from opportunity further away from the jobs of the future.

At WSOS, we show up every day and do this work because Washington can’t wait.

The momentum is starting to shift. Last year, the cornerstone partners who made WSOS possible back in 2010 renewed commitments totaling $40 million: $15 million from Microsoft, $10 million from Gary and Jennifer Rubens, $10 million from Ballmer Group, and $5 million from The Boeing Company and The Boeing Charitable Trust. The impact of our program inspired giving from new partners, including the Think Forward and Bamford Foundations.

Longtime partners, including Central Washington University Foundation, Bristol Meyers Squibb, the BECU Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and Battelle, have also renewed their commitments.

Like all gifts to WSOS, these funds are matched dollar-for-dollar by the state, doubling their impact. The Legislature’s unwavering bipartisan support and commitment to the state-match promise make our impact possible.

Together, we’ve supported over 17,000 students who have received just over $128 million since 2011.

We’ve been at this work for a decade and still have far to go. The pandemic exacerbated the barriers that students who need support the most face and wiped out much of the gains our sector had made in connecting our bright and talented students to a higher education pathway. We can’t let the enormity of the challenge deter us.

Our Scholars are brilliant and courageous. Their stories are filled with resilience and visions for a better future.

Their inspiration gives us hope and drives us forward. It’s our greatest privilege to join you in helping students focus on tomorrow, today.

In gratitude,

Brad Smith & Kimber Connors