SkillUp Washington Receives $1.8 Million from Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a two-year, $1.8 million grant to Seattle-based SkillUp Washington to launch SkillLink, a new college preparedness program, the Seattle PostGlobe reports.

In the first year, the grant will fund four partnerships linking community colleges, community-based nonprofits, and workforce boards. Together, the partners will provide cohorts of twenty to twenty-five students between the ages of 18 and 24 with the academic preparation and life-skills support they need to enter and thrive in community college. In its second year, the grant will fund six partnerships.

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board are key partners in the SkillLink program, which builds on the success of the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program created by Washington community and technical colleges. Recognized as a national model for moving adults through basic education and into the workforce, I-BEST helps students to master basic skills while they earn a credential in a field such as health care, manufacturing, or auto mechanics.

"Today's college students are increasingly juggling the competing demands of families, jobs and their studies," said Hilary Pennington, director of education, postsecondary success and special initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Adult learners need the kinds of supports and assistance that colleges alone often cannot provide. We believe coordinated efforts like SkillUp are crucial to helping these students complete a degree that has value in the workplace."