Yolanda L. Watson Spiva is the College Success Foundation’s new chief executive officer and president, replacing co-founder and CEO Bob Craves who is retiring.
This is a quality match.
Spiva is coming to a foundation that has worked successfully in this state and Washington, D.C. increasing the numbers of young people, especially those from low-income families, in college. The Issaquah-based nonprofit was built on solid ground, the brainchild of Craves, a co-founder of Costco, and Ann Ramsay-Jenkins. Craves was co-chair of the Washington State 2020 Commission on the Future of Post-Secondary Education. Craves and Ramsay-Jenkins deserve a community’s lasting gratitude for their ability and willingness to tackle Washington state’s low college attendance and graduation rates.
Tapping Spiva was a smart move. She brings a strong professional and civic resume, most recently as CEO and executive director of Project GRAD Atlanta, Inc., a nonprofit working with the Atlanta Public Schools to boost the number of students graduating from high school and college. Spiva also has ties to higher education. She was assistant dean at Trinity College in Washington, D.C.
The expectation that Spiva can not just sustain but grow the well-respected and effective CSF is not misplaced. Project GRAD gets strong marks in important areas on Charity Navigator, the report card for nonprofits. Spiva is well-positioned to grasp the important value our state places on jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields because she consulted on projects for the National Academy of Engineering’s Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE) in Washington,D.C.
Spiva comes to an organization that is doing exceptional work. We know this because 65 percent of Washington state College Success Foundation Achievers who started at four-year colleges in the fall after they graduated from high school earned bachelor’s degrees within six years. Only about 10 percent of low-income Americans get a bachelor’s degree by age 24, according to the U.S. Census.
CSF has raised nearly $500 million and awarded more than 11,000 scholarships. More than 3,000 of its scholars have earned a baccalaureate degree. The foundation also administers the College Bound program, a wildly successful state effort to encourage more students to finish high school and enroll in college by promising to pay their higher-education costs.