Seattle Education Access provides higher education advocacy and opportunity to young people struggling to overcome poverty and adversity throughout King County.
To connect non-traditional students with the information and financial resources to help them achieve their dreams of a college education.
To provide financial support that helps low-income youth access higher education and meet their housing and basic survival needs while in school.
To provide the personal attention, mentoring, technical assistance, and moral support that marginalized youth need to navigate the complex systems of higher education and financial aid.
To empower young people living in poverty to develop their own voices and succeed in the higher academic arena.
In the inherent worth and dignity of each human being.
That education is a life-long process of self-discovery and world discovery.
That education is its own reward and enriches life.
That every person deserves a good education.
That every person is responsible for his or her own life.
That every person has unique gifts and that when those gifts are nourished and given a chance to flourish, both the individual and the community benefits.
That by helping others, and by accepting help from others, we add meaning and beauty to life.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community members, and celebrate their right to self-determination.
People from all ethnic, cultural and national backgrounds.
People from all religious faiths and philosophical worldviews who share our values and promote our mission.
We are committed to using our financial resources in the most efficient and responsible way possible to further our mission.
We measure the success of our organization by the success and well-being of our students.
SEA has two linked programs serving youth: our College Prep Program and our College Success Program. We also provide Gap Scholarships to students in our College Success Program.
Through our College Prep Program, we help youth prepare for higher education and meaningful employment. Our staff members work with each student to create a career and academic achievement plan tailored to his or her gifts and goals. About half of our students choose a vocational or technical track, and the other half choose an academic or professional track. Our goal is to have each of our students start an appropriate post-secondary program of study on the right foot, with the resources and skills they need to succeed. We teach students how to navigate the educational system, get federal financial aid, compete for private scholarships, make a budget, secure housing, register for classes, pick the right campus and degree program, and effectively access campus services. We provide free tutoring and study guides for the GED and the COMPASS test, which is the placement test that students take when they start at a community college. We also collect and redistribute used books to youth to build literacy skills.
Beyond helping youth enroll in college, SEA’s College Success Program offers ongoing support throughout their college career until they graduate and transition successfully to the workforce. College access is meaningless unless it is followed by retention and graduation. The dropout rate during the freshman year of college is typically high, especially among low income youth. A failed attempt at college can end up making life worse for the student, if the student exits with student loan debt but no diploma or improved employment. Many of our students do not have the safety net of a supportive family of origin and must rely on community support instead. Our College Success Program provides that community support through offering retention services designed to maximize graduation rates. College Success students continue to receive free tutoring, mentoring, and advising. We also refurbish used computers and give them to our students so that they can do their homework at home. One of the most common services we provide to students is assistance with the transfer process when they complete their A.A. or A.S. degrees and move on to four year universities. As our program matures, we now also have the privilege of helping our former students apply to graduate school.
With tuition rising at state colleges and financial aid packages shrinking, scholarships are more important than ever. SEA awards financial scholarships to students enrolled in our College Success Program for tuition, textbooks, bus passes, and other basic needs to supplement financial aid so students have enough money to afford safe and stable housing. Students apply for scholarships through SEA by submitting an application form, personal essay, and a budget showing their financial need. Community volunteers serving on our Scholarship Review Committee set scholarship policy, interview candidates, and award scholarships three times per year for fall, winter, and spring quarters.