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Media Release: Pave the Way Spring 2021

WSAC announces spring schedule for higher education equity webinars

March 17, 2021 

Olympia—The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) is hosting a series of webinars focused on strategies to advance equity, increase college readiness and broaden access to higher education in Washington State. Pave the Way webinars are free and open to the public, designed for local community leaders, higher education faculty and administrators, K-12 educators and leaders and any other organization or group looking to advance postsecondary attainment in Washington State. 

Since September 2020, WSAC has hosted five Pave the Way Virtual events, bringing together more than 700 educators and advocates from across Washington State and beyond. Panelists have included students, campus representatives, regional leaders and nonprofit partners representing the Gates Foundation, EdTrust, Washington Student Association (WSA) and more.

"Pave the Way has created an unprecedented opportunity for students to share their lived experience and expertise with higher education professionals, stakeholders and lawmakers,” said Zack Turner, executive director of WSA. “Crucially, these events not only include student voices, but center around them. Pave the Way is setting the foundation for authentic student input and involvement in high-level policy-making and should be seen as an example nationally."

Pave the Way aims to ensure historically marginalized students receive the support they need to succeed, in keeping with the state’s goal that 70% of Washingtonians earn some form of postsecondary degree or credential.  

For spring 2021, the following Pave the Way Virtual events have been announced:

March 18 – Postsecondary Basic Needs: Busting Barriers to Critical Supports
Join us for an overview of postsecondary basic needs security nationally and in Washington, strategies to address current challenges and actions we can all take to address them, with a specific focus on leveraging emergency assistance grants and SNAP benefits. This session will feature keynote speaker Christine Baker-Smith O’Malley of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. The Hope Center is redefining what it means to be a student-ready college with a national movement centering #RealCollege students’ basic needs.

April 8 – Multi-Faceted Support Programs: Using Evidence to Address Multiple Barriers to Student Success and Advance Equity
WSAC’s Equity Landscape Report highlights various racial equity gaps in terms of persistence rates, transfer rates and participation in developmental coursework that are key indicators to understanding Washington’s challenge to increase postsecondary attainment, especially for students of color. In this session, experts from MDRC will share evidence-based research and highlight programs grounded in this research that have been shown to support postsecondary students’ credential attainment, with a focus on equity. A panel of leaders will discuss local progress and confront the challenges to successfully implementing these strategies, especially in light of COVID-19. This session is presented in partnership with MDRC. MDRC is committed to finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation—from reducing poverty and bolstering economic self-sufficiency to improving public education and college graduation rates.

May 13 – Helping Communities and Families Save for College: Child Development Accounts
Child Development Account (CDA) programs are gaining momentum as an effective strategy to help address the racial wealth and opportunity gap by empowering families to build assets and save for postsecondary education. This session will discuss the latest research on CDAs’ impact in states and local communities, consider implementation in Washington and discuss how CDAs can be used in tandem with other programs to increase postsecondary attainment. This session is hosted in partnership with WA529 College Savings Plans. WA529 helps Washington families save for educational expenses, with a vision of fostering a well-educated community by helping students and families overcome financial barriers to education and avoid future debt.

Learn more, register for upcoming events and view recordings of past sessions on the Pave the Way Virtual webpage. Join the Pave the Way listserv to be notified of upcoming events in this series.

Sponsorship Opportunity

Make an impact! Your organization can help advance equity by contributing to the success of Pave the Way. Learn more in our Call for Sponsors.

About the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC)

The Washington Student Achievement Council is committed to increasing educational opportunities and attainment in Washington.