Ready to Rise is a leadership development program to support the next generation of diverse leaders on their journey to a college degree and leadership in their hometown. Working through local affiliates and with 2- and 4-year public colleges and universities, Ready to Rise builds on the successful Act Six model of cohort-based learning and leading together. Over its first five years, Ready to Rise will serve 1,000 students from three Washington communities.

The Beginnings

Ready to Rise began as an effort to extend the proven success of the Act Six initiative to a greater number of students attending a wider range of colleges and universities. Act Six provides cohort-based leadership development and full scholarships to diverse emerging leaders as they earn their degrees at private liberal arts colleges and return home as leaders in their communities. Rigorously studied Act Six has produced remarkable outcomes, but has been limited in the number of students it can serve due to the cost of scholarships at private colleges.

With initial funding from College Spark Washington, Ready to Rise will broaden the reach of Act Six, utilizing the same cohort-based leadership development approach to support students at public two-year colleges and four-year universities. With an aim to serve 1,000 students from three Washington communities over the first five years, Ready to Rise will scale to serve larger numbers of students across the country in the years ahead.

The Need

Historically under-served communities across Washington State and the country enjoy wonderful cultural and economic diversity where people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences have regular opportunities to interact and communicate. Yet these communities also yearn for new generations of committed, visionary leaders who will build bridges across differences and respond creatively to the pressing challenges they confront.

Unfortunately, people of color and those from low-income families are still underrepresented in higher education and there remain significant disparities in college retention rates for students from different cultural and economic backgrounds. Ready to Rise was created as a way to address this issue by educating, inspiring and equipping a new generation of visionary, committed community leaders who choose a public higher education path.

The Vision

Ready to Rise believes that emerging urban and community leaders, with the right opportunity, support and inspiration, can combine their natural gifts and passion with a college education to create a new kind of bold, visionary leadership that will transform our campuses, our communities and our collective future.

When you think about moments of significant positive change that have happened in your community, you can usually point to a group of connected people who made it happen. Networks of effective leaders working together get things done. The problem is that those leadership networks don’t always look like or represent the full breadth of a community, and as a result, some groups tend to get left behind. For our communities to thrive in the future, we need diverse networks of homegrown leaders who love their home and are committed to building vibrant communities.

We believe that through developing students’ leadership and connecting them back to opportunities in their hometowns, both business leaders as well as soon-to-be college graduates can create a shared vision and commitment to a community and a future where everyone thrives.




  • Powerful training in leadership, time-management, financial literacy and other helpful topics
  • Organized activities that help participants establish a community of friends who share their vision
  • A supportive mentor in the first year and the chance to return the favor in the second
  • Internship and career supports as participants prepare for life and leadership after college
  • Networking opportunities with leaders and professionals in participants’ home community


Stronger Communities with Educated, Passionate Leaders who are Ready to Rise
Bound together by shared values and training, Ready to Rise scholars learn to encourage and challenge each other while they receive ongoing support from each other, older student mentors, their colleges and staff at their community affiliate.  After their time together as Community Cohorts, Campus Cohorts and Career Cohorts, alumni graduate from college connected to each other in multiple ways and ready to lead in the community.  Together, they will weave a fabric of leadership that will shape the future of our cities and communities.


Senior Year of High School

Registration opens from Feb 1 and closes May 30.

Summer Before First Year of College

Students who participate in the program will partake in Initial Conference in June, 3 summer workshops, and a Summer Retreat. During this time, students will meet with their near-peer mentor “Coaches” who will support them their first year of college.

First Year of College

Upon arriving on campus, participants will be regrouped into Campus Cohorts with their Coaches during a kickoff event on campus. Participants will meet one-on-one with their Coach on a monthly basis, as well as participate in a monthly leadership training evening and/or monthly social event with their Campus Cohort. In the spring, participants can apply to become a Ready to Rise Coach in their Second Year (if interested). Over the summer between the first and second year of college, participants attend a community reconnect workshop and receive personalized text messaging regarding volunteer opportunities in their communities; scholarship opportunities in their communities and on their campuses; and reminders regarding administrative deadlines for successful college re-enrollment.

Second Year of College

Beginning in the second year of college, participants join Career Cohorts based on their vocational interests and declared or pre-selected college majors. They receive personalized text messaging regarding vocational development and scholarship opportunities. They also attend Campus Cohort or Career Cohort dinners and leadership development/vocational exploration workshops every other month led by the Ready to Rise vocational specialist. Participants who serve as Coaches meet monthly with their assigned Second Year students one-on-one and meet with their Site Director to receive additional leadership development training and support.

Third Year of College

Participant continuing on to a four-year degree attend a statewide gathering every other September to connect with Ready to Rise participants from across the state. They continue to receive personalized text messaging regarding vocational development opportunities related to their college major and have the opportunity to earn electronic badges for completing career preparation activities. They also attend Campus Cohort or Career Cohort dinners and leadership development/career preparation workshops every other month led by the Ready to Rise vocational specialist.

Fourth Year of College

Participants continue to receive personalized text messaging regarding employment opportunities related to their college major, particularly those located in their home community. They continue to and have the opportunity to earn electronic badges for completing career preparation activities in preparation for college graduation. They also attend Campus Cohort or Career Cohort dinners and leadership development/career preparation workshops every other month led by the Ready to Rise vocational specialist. Participants who require longer than four years to graduate from college continue to receive support from and participate in Campus Cohort and Career Cohort activities until they complete.



The Ready to Rise network currently consists of three local community affiliates plus a national office, working with seven participating colleges and estimated to serve 120 students in its first year.  Students who enroll in any of the seven participating colleges can apply for Ready to Rise regardless of which community they call home (Clark County, Tacoma or Yakima Valley).

Ready to Rise is a locally-led initiative within each of the leadership foundations, and is supported by the Ready to Rise National Office at Degrees of Change.








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