Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation: Education with Purpose

In 2017, one-third of all births in Spokane County were to mothers with a high school/GED degree or less. However, if these mothers were unpartnered/unmarried, there was a 52 percent chance they had a high school degree or less, according to the State of Woman in Children in Spokane County (SWAC) report, published by Women Helping Women Fund (WHWF) in Spring 2019.

This fact matters. Maternal education (or lack thereof) can have impacts lasting into early childhood and beyond. The less education a mother has, the more likely a child is to face adverse circumstances in their early life. Mothers who have less than a high school/GED degree are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care. Their children are more likely to skip meals, more likely to be abused by an intimate partner or adult, and more likely to abuse substances such as drugs, tobacco, and alcohol during high school.

Many women living in poverty are less likely to achieve higher education, for they shy away from the immediate bill for enrollment, failing to see the long-term effects their continued education may have on their household in the future. 

One SWAC Participant stated that, “It’s hard to get higher education with kids, a job, and this and that. I don’t want to do anything that is a cost for my family.” However, there are many great programs that work to financially assist female students looking to continue their education.

WHWF is proud to partner with the Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation (CCSF) in its Women’s Educational Assistance Program (WEAP). This program is specifically tailored to support women of low socio-economic status, enrolled in innovative non-credit and career-technical programs that prepare them for skilled and living-wage occupations. CCSF provides the only comprehensive public community college program in the region that delivers adult educational courses, job skills training, and enrichment programs to prepare women for gaining stable, family sustainable employment. 

“WEAP’s primary focus is on building women up in their education experience, helping them to discover the confidence to pursue the education and training they have set out to accomplish,” according to CCSF. Many of these female participants are in emergency financial situations due to unexpected life events, such as losing employment or a partner. Others are underemployed, earning wages that cannot support their households basic needs. 

“[We] meet each student exactly where they are, academically and emotionally, to help them advance their employable skills and gain financial independence,” stated a CCSF representative.

To learn more about this program and to apply for scholarships, please visit

Molly Gianarelli

Molly Gianarelli

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