Impact Series

Microsoft, Boeing and Rubens household pledge new funds to Washington State Alternative Scholarship

Roz Brewer, former Starbucks executive and CEO of the Walgreens-Boots Alliance, is interviewed for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship annual breakfast by Citlaly Ramirez, an alum of the WSOS program who now works at Amazon.

Marking its 10th anniversary Tuesday morning, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship said it received new funding commitments totaling $30 million from three of its original supporters, Microsoft, Boeing, and Gary and Jennifer Rubens of the Rubens Family Foundation — encouraging others to join them.

WSOS provides scholarships to help low- and middle-income students in Washington state prepare for careers in science, technology engineering, and math (STEM) fields, with a focus on women and people of color. Washington state matches donations to WSOS one-for-one with public funds.

“When this program first started, there wasn’t any proof to the pudding, so to speak,” said Kimber Connors, WSOS executive director, in an interview. “So these folks were really stepping forward with the belief that this program could become something.”

She added, “And now, 10 years later, having very clear impact numbers demonstrating the outcomes of this program, to have the returning vote of confidence of three of those legacy, cornerstone partners really just means the world to us.”

WSOS has awarded scholarships to more than 13,100 students seeking baccalaureate degrees, with 5,298 graduates; and 1,239 for career and technical programs, with 147 graduates.

Microsoft’s commitment of $15 million over five years brings its total amount donated to $50 million since WSOS launched in 2011. Boeing’s donation of $5 million brings its total to $30 million. Entrepreneur and angel investor Gary Rubens is a member of the WSOS board. He and his wife Jennifer committed an additional $10 million over 10 years.

Roz Brewer, former Starbucks executive and CEO of the Walgreens-Boots Alliance, keynoted the WSOS event this morning. She was interviewed for the event by Citlaly Ramirez, a previous Washington State Opportunity Scholar who now works at Amazon, and shared her story at the 2017 GeekWire Summit.

Watch the full virtual event below, emceed by Seattle entrepreneur and WSOS board member Jane Park, CEO of Athena Consumer Acquisition Corp., who talked about WSOS as part of our conversation on the latest GeekWire Podcast.

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