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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane City Council allocates $5 million for Innovia’s Launch NW initiative

Shelly O'Quinn, CEO of the Innovia Foundation, speaks at the foundation's annual reception Monday, May 16, 2022 at the Spokane Convention Center. O'Quinn announced Launch NW, an new initiative to guarantee ost-high school support for every child in the region. It is the relaunch of an initiative announced at the beginning of COVID.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Spokane-based community foundation Innovia is $5 million closer to its goal of ensuring students across the Inland Northwest can pay for college or vocational training.

The Spokane City Council on Monday approved $5 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds for Innovia’s Launch NW program. The sweeping $150 million initiative, unveiled in May, began fundraising last year.

The initiative aims to improve economic conditions for people and communities in the region by helping significantly more local students attend post-secondary education, said Innovia CEO Shelly O’Quinn.

“Seventy percent-plus of jobs require education past high school, yet our students aren’t going on to pursue that,” she said.

This support includes scholarships, but also services to help connect students to other resources.

The city’s ARPA funds come on top of $5 million pledged by Spokane County and $1 million pledged by Spokane Valley earlier this year, O’Quinn said.

The $11 million committed by local governments will be spent not on scholarships, but on support services for students and families, O’Quinn said.

This includes helping students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Washington state is 48th in the country for FAFSA completion rates, meaning the state is leaving federal financial support for students on the table, O’Quinn said.

Along with additional contributions from local businesses, donors and foundations, the foundation is well on its way to reaching its fundraising goals, O’Quinn added, though she declined to specify a total prior to an announcement planned for some time after the holidays.