THE state’s two biggest companies took a gamble on Washington a few years back, and at long last the state has finally paid off.
Back in 2011, Boeing and Microsoft pledged $25 million apiece for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program. The program, run by the College Success Foundation, defrays costs for low- and middle-income students when they major in science, technology, engineering, math and health at Washington colleges. Each student is eligible for as much as $17,000.
The hope was that the state would match corporate contributions dollar for dollar. So far, the two companies have paid out $30 million, enough to serve 3,000 students. Until this year, the recession-weary Legislature had put up only $5 million. Now, in its latest budget, it has come through with the rest of its share.
For years, business has been hollering for more homegrown STEM grads, and critics often turn the argument around and say the business community ought to be willing to pay more. But here, business clearly did its part in a most generous way.
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Microsoft’s Brad Smith, chairman of the program, says he hopes to expand the donor base. That should be easier now that the state has done the right thing.