13th Year Promise Scholarship: A South Seattle College Legacy

South Seattle College offered the 13th Year Promise Scholarship to hundreds of high school graduates from 2008 into 2018. In 2018, Seattle Colleges partnered with the Seattle School District and City of Seattle to launch Seattle Promise, a new promise program inspired and informed by the 13th Year scholarship. Learn more about Seattle Promise.


13th Year Promise Program History

The 13th Year Promise Scholarship was started by the South Seattle College Foundation in 2008, based on research from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges that demonstrates a high school diploma and one year of college is the critical “tipping point” for students to earn living wage jobs and/or continue his or her education. 

The “promise” was to guarantee that all graduating seniors from participating area high schools had the opportunity to attend South Seattle College tuition-free for one year, with a support network in place to help them navigate the transition from high school to higher education and forge a path toward a successful career.  The mission was to increase access to higher education for our community’s students, particularly those from underrepresented groups including students of color, low-income students and first-generation college students.

Funded by private donations to the foundation, 13th Year started offering graduating seniors from Cleveland High School one year of free in-state tuition in 2008, and expanded to include Chief Sealth International High School in 2011 and Rainier Beach High School in 2014. In 2011, the Readiness Academy was implemented to further increase student success by supporting students in their transition from high school to college.

The City of Seattle invested in 13th Year in 2017 and 2018 to help further expand the program. Through that support, Seattle Central College and North Seattle College started offering the scholarship and students from West Seattle, Garfield and Ingraham high schools were invited to take part.

In late 2017, inspired by 13th Year, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an executive order to create Seattle Promise, a new promise program that provides two years of free in-state tuition at Seattle Colleges for graduating seniors from participating high schools across the city.  13th Year scholars attending South Seattle College in 2018 were granted an additional year of tuition funding and become Seattle Promise scholars.

View the 13th Year Promise Scholarship Statistics Overview.