Skip to content

What is Guided Pathways? 

Guided by the carefully crafted Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles, Washington State guided pathways reform is a student-centered framework grounded in equity-minded praxis designed to increase and diversify the students and communities accessing and earning high value community college credentials. The systemic institutional approach focuses on the construction of a transparent, structured educational experience that effectively engages each student from point of entry to attainment of high-quality postsecondary credentials and careers. 

Washington Guided Pathways

The Washington State Guided Pathways Advisory Committee (GPAC) has adopted a Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles grounded in values of Equity and Social Justice, Educational and Career attainment, Learning, Community, and Accountability. 


A system that advances racial, social, and economic justice by achieving equitable student aspiration, access, economic progress, and educational and career attainment.


The Washington Student Success Center works to create an equitable system that prepares all learners to engage in a diverse society and workforce, achieve economic mobility through educational attainment and contribute to a socially just society.

Guiding Principles

  1. Guided Pathways requires urgent, radical, equity-minded, transformational organization change.
  2. Guided Pathways requires a culturally responsive commitment to racial and social equity by dismantling systemic policies and practices that perpetuate inequity.
  3. It is essential to fully engage the voices of students, faculty, staff, and community members in adaptive problem focused inquiry processes to lead to meaningful action and sustained systemic change.
  4. Guided Pathways requires intentional collaborative learning through professional development, partnerships, and resource development.
  5. Guided Pathways requires a focus on learning and outcomes aligned with community values and industry needs.


Claudine Richardson
Policy Associate Student Success Center

Laura Schueller
Mathematics Policy Associate

Jennifer Whetham
Student Success Center and Strategic Initiatives Policy Associate

Brook Bane
Program Specialist

Ashley Montenegro Ramirez
Administrative Assistant


April 2019: Washington Legislature Passes Workforce Education Investment Act, HB 2158

The passage of the Workforce Education Investment Act provides state funding to all 34 Washington community and technical colleges for the implementation of Guided Pathways. An initial $2 million dollars is  allocated to  SBCTC for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. An additional $30.1 million dollars is provided specifically for Guided Pathways implementation at community and technical colleges for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

January 2018: Launch of CSW Guided Pathways Cohort 2 Colleges

CSW and SBCTC announce the second cohort of Guided Pathways colleges to begin in the fall of 2018. Each college will receive a $500,000 grant over five years to implement Guided Pathways just as the first cohort did. The second cohort includes:

  • Clover Park Technical College 
  • Lower Columbia Community College
  • Renton Technical College
  • Spokane Falls Community College
  • Tacoma Community College

April 2017: The Washington State Legislature Pledges Funding

The 2017 Washington Legislature approves $3 million for the State Board over the course of two years to provide funding for SBCTC and early adopter colleges implementing Guided Pathways over the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years. Funding is distributed to the 12 early adopter colleges (CSW & AACC cohort colleges):

College Spark Washington (CSW) Cohort 1(2016)

  • Everett Community College
  • Peninsula College
  • Pierce College District
  • South Puget Sound Community College
  • South Seattle College

College Spark Washington (CSW) Cohort 2 (2018)

  • Clover Park Technical College
  • Lower Columbia Community College
  • Renton Technical College
  • Spokane Falls Community College
  • Tacoma Community College

AACC Cohort 1 and 2

  • Skagit Valley College (1.0)
  • Pierce College District* (1.0)
  • South Seattle College* (1.0)
  • Clark College (2.0)

*Both Pierce and South Seattle engaged in both CSW and AACC Pathways cohorts

2016: Launch of CSW Guided Pathways and WA Student Success Center

College Spark Washington (CSW) pledges to grant more than $7 million to SBCTC and the first Guided Pathways Cohort Colleges over eight years (2016-2024). 

Each college receives a $500,000 grant over five years to implement Guided Pathways. The first cohort is comprised of five colleges:

  • Everett Community College
  • Peninsula College
  • Pierce College District
  • South Puget Sound Community College
  • South Seattle College

In tandem with the College Spark Washington, SBCTC joins a national movement, Jobs for the Future (JFF) sponsored National Student Success Network with generous funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Washington receives support from JFF for the creation of a Washington Student Success Center at the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Intended to unite work being done at community and technical colleges around the country and reduce silos of knowledge, Washington joins 13 other states where JFF is actively supporting the creation of Student Success Centers.

2015: Washington Colleges join AACC Guided Pathways Movement

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) launched a national project focused on building capacity for community colleges to design and implement Guided Pathways framework at scale. Building on emerging research and experience in the field, the project built on the 2012 Twenty-first Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, Reclaiming the American Dream, and the 2014 Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future implementation guide. Colleges were selected by their demonstrated commitment and prior strategies to increase student success, and provided them technical assistance and coaching from the AACC.

Three Washington community and technical colleges were selected in the first cohort:

  • Pierce College District
  • Skagit Valley College
  • South Seattle College

Why Guided Pathways?

The Washington Round table estimates 740,000 job openings in Washington state by 2021. To fill those jobs, the Round table set a Goal: by the year 2030, 70 percent of Washington students will earn a postsecondary credential by age 26. This requires doubling postsecondary credential attainment.

Guided Pathways Coaches

Coaches provide support for all Washington State Community and Technical Colleges. The next round of coach applications will be reviewed on June 1st.

Page Manager:
Last Modified: 10/25/21, 2:30 PM

starburst graphic