Local Treasures with Pia: College Success Foundation helps students make it to college

Spokane, Washington – The name of the College Success Foundation (CSF) says it all: it’s working to support students though middle and high school so they can go to college. CSF recently received grant funding from the Avista Foundation and Shannon Demant, who’s the Regional Director of College Success Foundation-Spokane, said that funding helps CSF to offer scholarships and mentoring.

“We are a non-profit that is committed to breaking patterns of generational poverty by helping homeless and minority youth go to college,” Demant said. “We offer scholarships that can help level the playing field for those who don’t have the financial resources at home.”

CSF places advisors in middle and high schools via its Pathway Program.

“We have fulltime staff at Spokane’s five major high schools and we have a fabulous working relationship with Spokane Public Schools,” Demant said.

The focus is on schools with high poverty rates and high drop-out rates, and the focus isn’t just on college. Demant said some students are more interested in trades.

“We are talking to the students about finding a program they can really identify with,” Demant said.

CSF has offices in Spokane, Yakima, Tacoma, Seattle and the northwest coastal area of Washington, as well as one office in Washington D.C. That last office was funded by a Gates Grant and is located in some of the poorest areas of D.C. – Ward 7 and 8.

“Our focus is on degree completion. We know that 70 percent of jobs in Washington state require some sort of a degree, and we want the students to be ready for that,” Demant said.

The school-based advisors also help students access financial aid, and they often become trusted sounding boards for students who may be reluctant to talk to their teachers about personal issues.

“Students may confide in us about rent struggles at home, and food insecurity,” Demant said. “We can refer them to a partner organization and help them through that difficult time.”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $13 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.

Learn more about the College Success Foundation.

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