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In support of our commitment to Investing in You, King County and the Coalition of Unions are pleased to offer the Professional Development Scholarship Program in 2022, 2023 and 2024 to eligible employees who are represented by a union in the Coalition.


The Professional Development Scholarship Fund Program is a benefit offered as part of the 2022 – 2024 Coalition Labor Agreement (CLA) and is only open to employees represented by one of the unions in the Coalition.

The Program has been designed to center on equity; support employees in obtaining certificates, certifications, licenses, and degrees related to King County careers; and help further King County’s equity and social justice commitments, True North and Values, and better serve our community.

The CLA has budgeted $150K each year; however, since the CLA became law so late in 2022, the $150K for 2022 is being re-allocated to 2023 and 2024. This means $225K will be available in 2023 and in 2024. The maximum scholarship award amount an eligible employee can receive is $3,000 per calendar year.

There will be two application periods in 2023 and 2024. Scholarship funds awarded must be spent in the year it was awarded and can cover training that occurs in the current year or in the following year. Scholarship funds may only be used for prospective training and not for training that has already occurred.

Learn about the Professional Development Scholarship Program. All sessions will be one hour and held on Zoom. The Zoom link and passcode will be sent out at least one day prior to session’s date/time. Topics covered listed below. Click here to view dates and to register for a session.

  • Program goals and budget
  • Eligibility criteria
  • 2023 timelines
  • Application rating criteria
  • How awards will be made
  • Key policy guidelines
  • How an Individual Development Plan can help you prepare to apply
  • Available resources
  • Q and A

To be eligible for a scholarship award, employees must meet each criterion below.

  1. Is a comprehensive leave benefited employee (excluding TLT’s) represented by one of the unions in the Coalition who has completed their initial probationary period; AND
  2. Has completed at least one year of full or part time King County employment in a position eligible for comprehensive leave benefits. This includes time spent in a Term-Limited Temporary (TLT) position IF there is no break in service between positions; AND
  3. Has no documented performance or discipline issues for at least one year from the date the employee submitted the Scholarship application form. Please contact your department HR staff if you are unsure if you meet these criteria.

The 2023 application and award notification dates are in the table below.

2023 Application Period 2023 Award Notification
January 9 - February 5 March 20 - 24
May 8 - June 4 July 31 - August 3
  1. It is recommended that employees create an Individual Development Plan (IDP), which outlines your King County career goal, a plan to develop yourself towards that goal, to include the training being requested, and how you will apply the training in a way that will further King County’s commitment to equity and social justice, align with any of King County’s True North values and better serve your customers or our community. (The scholarship application will ask for this information.)
  2. Department training funds must be requested first. If your department denies your training request based on their training policy, or can only pay part of it, then you may apply for a scholarship.
  3. Apply online at the County’s job page during the application period. Search for the job listing titled “CLA Professional Development Scholarship Program.”
  4. Ensure your application is complete and submitted by the deadline date listed.
  5. Your application will be reviewed by your department HR staff to verify that you meet Scholarship Program eligibility requirements. Those who pass this step will be sent to a Scholarship Review Team.
  6. The Scholarship Review Teams review and score applications based on rating criteria. Those who “meet standards” for each rating criteria will be considered as passing and moved forward.
  7. Awards will be made as follows:
    • Passing applicants will be sorted from lowest to highest hourly pay (if employee is on special duty, their base pay will be used).
    • Go down the “PASS” list sorted by pay and make awards until budget amount is spent for period.
    • If “ties” exist within a pay rate, then then application score will be used.
    • If “ties” exist at the application score level, then the training outcome will be used in the order listed below:
      1. Certificate for a program of study
      2. Professional certification or license
      3. Two-year AA or vocational/technical degree
      4. Four-year Bachelor’s degree
      5. Masters or professional degree
      6. Doctorate degree
      7. General work-related training or continuing education
  8. All applicants will be notified on whether they will receive an award.
  9. Scholarship recipients will be emailed an Award Letter outlining the details and process for accessing their award.
  10. Award recipients have the choice to self-pay and seek reimbursement for approved costs or request that the county direct pay the training organization.
  11. Award recipients must register and pay for their training within 60 calendar days of receipt of their award letter, or within 60 days of the training organization accepting registration, or risk losing their award.
  12. Scholarship recipients email ScholarshipFund@kingcounty.gov documentation showing that they have completed and passed with a “C” or higher when applicable, the training funded by the Scholarship Award.

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a tool designed to align with the criteria that will be used to rate your scholarship application. It is also designed to help you be more effective in strategizing and charting a path to your desired destination. Below are IDP resources to help you take charge of your career growth.

1. I am not a member of a union or my union is not listed as a member of the Coalition. Can I still apply for a scholarship?
Unfortunately, no. This is a benefit that was negotiated between King County and the Coalition of Unions. Therefore, the benefit is only available for Coalition members.

2. Why is the Scholarship Program only for employees who are members of the Coalition of Unions?
This program is a benefit that was negotiated between King County and the Unions that make up the Coalition as part of the 2022 - 2024 Coalition Labor Agreement.

3. How can I find out if my union is a participating union in the Coalition Labor Agreement?
A list of unions that are part of the Coalition of Unions can be found here. You may also ask your HR person or union Shop Steward.

4. Can I request scholarship funds as a temporary employee in the Coalition?
Temporary and term-limited temporary employees are not eligible for the scholarship program.

5. What are the eligibility requirements for the program?
Eligibility requirements for the program include the following:

  • Is currently a comprehensive leave benefited employee (excluding TLT’s) represented by one of the unions in the Coalition who has completed their initial probationary period; AND
  • Has completed at least one year of full or part time KC employment in a position eligible for comprehensive leave benefits. This includes time spent in a Term-Limited Temporary position IF there is no break in service between positions; AND
  • Has no documented performance or discipline issues for at least one year from the date the employee submitted the Scholarship Fund application form.

6. If I receive a scholarship award, can I apply for another one?
Yes, you may apply for additional awards not to exceed a total of $3,000 in awards per calendar year.

7. Does my supervisor have to sign off on my request for scholarship funds?
You must first check with your supervisor on whether your department will pay for the training. If your supervisor says yes, but the department can only pay for part of it, or they say no, then you may apply for a scholarship. The only time your supervisor needs to sign off on your request is if the training will occur during your normal work hours, or if the training will somehow impact your normal work schedule.

8. What is the maximum amount of scholarship funds I can receive?
An employee can receive a maximum total of $3,000 per calendar year.

9. What costs are covered by the Scholarship Fund?
Funds may be used for tuition, fees, supplies, textbooks, publications, lab fees, fees for on-line class access or any other costs deemed appropriate by the Scholarship Design Team.

10. What if I want to request a scholarship for training from two or more different training organizations during the same application period or for training that starts the following year?
Your scholarship award can be used to pay for trainings from one or more training organizations and for training that occurs in the current calendar year or occurs in the following calendar year ONLY IF you are able to register and have your trainings paid for in the year in which the award was given.

11. Will the scholarship funds pay for costs required to take a professional exam for a certification or license?
If an employee is seeking to obtain or maintain a certification or license, which is not required for the position the employee currently occupies, AND the certification or license is applicable to work performed by the County, then Scholarship Funds may be used. Costs to sit for an exam for a professional certification or license will be allowed only once per calendar year.

12. Will the Scholarship Fund pay for conference registration fees, travel, and accommodations?
Scholarship funds may not be used for conferences.

13. How many awards will be given out each quarter?
There is $150K budgeted each year for 2022, 2023 and 2024. Since the Coalition Labor Agreement is going into effect so late in 2022, the $150K for 2022 is being divided and re-allocated to 2023 and 2024. Therefore, there will be $225K in scholarships awarded in 2023 and another $225 in 2024. The county will make as many awards as possible with the funding available each application period.

14. Can I take the training on County time?
All training completed on County time must be pre-approved by your supervisor.

15. What criteria will be used to score applications?
All applications that meet policy guidelines will be scored on two separate criteria. The first criterion assesses whether the employee has a clear career goal, can explain how the training will support them in achieving their career goal, and has a plan to apply the training towards achieving their career goal.
The second criterion assesses how the employee will apply the training in a way that supports King County’s equity and social justice commitment, any of the county’s True North values and better serves the employee’s customers or our community.

16. Why I am being encouraged to complete an Individual Development Plan (IDP)? Is having an IDP required? Are there examples of completed IDPs I can see?
The Individual Development Plan was designed to align with the elements that they will be rated on when they apply for a scholarship. By completing an IDP, individuals will be better prepared when applying for a scholarship and increase their ability to achieve their King County career goal. An IDP is not required but encouraged. Employees may choose to attach a copy of their IDP to their scholarship application form or supply this information in the supplemental questionnaire section of their application. Go to the IDP section on the scholarship website for links to examples.

17. I’ve filled out an Employee Development Plan (EDP) through my department. What is the difference between the EDP and the Individual Development Plan (IDP)? Do I have to complete an IDP too? Can I just attach my EDP when I apply?
The primary difference between the EDP and the IDP is that the IDP includes a section called “Organizational Alignment,” which is one of the criteria used to rate your scholarship application form. No, you do not need to complete an IDP also. Yes, you can attach your EDP and use the “Organizational Alignment” question on the supplemental questionnaire to talk about how you will use your training in a way that supports King County’s commitment to equity and social justice (ESJ), our True North and any of the values, and enables you to better serve your customers, organization or our community.

18. Are there resources available to help me create my Individual Development Plan (IDP)?
Yes. King County’s Career Support Services staff are available to help. Other people you could involve include those doing the work you are aspiring to get into, supervisors, managers, a mentor, your HR staff, department/division Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Managers, department training staff, and anyone else whose opinions you value. You can also go visit the IDP section of the Career Support Services website to see examples of completed IDPs. In addition, the Career Support Services website (www.kingcounty.gov/CSS) has links to internal and external resources to help you explore your interests, workplace values, transferable skills, occupations and find training.

19. Is there an appeal process if I don't get approved for funding?
Decisions made by the Scholarship Review Teams are final. You will be provided with an explanation as to why your request was denied.

20. How will scholarship awards be made?
The process for making awards will be as follows:

  1. Passing applicants will be listed and sorted from lowest to highest hourly pay (the base hourly pay will be used for those on special duty).
  2. Those who score with a two or higher on each of the two criteria = “PASS”
  3. The program manager will go down the sorted “PASS” list and make awards until budget amount is spent for application period.
  4. If “ties” exist within a pay rate, then the award would go to the highest application score.
  5. If “ties” exist at the application score, then the outcome of the training will be used to make awards in the order listed below:
    • Certificate for a program of study
    • Professional certification or license
    • Two-year AA or vocational/technical degree
    • Four-year Bachelor’s degree
    • Masters or professional degree
    • Doctorate degree
    • General work-related training or continuing education
  6. If “ties” exist for the outcome of the training, then a lottery will be used.

21. I’m in a special duty assignment. Which department do I list on my application and how will you determine my hourly pay when sorting applicants by their hourly pay?
When applying for a scholarship, list your home department, not the department your special duty is with unless of course it is with your home department. The hourly pay you would be receiving if not on a special duty will be used when sorting applicants.

22. If my application is denied, will I be told why it was denied? Can I apply again?
If your application is denied you will be provided with the reasons for the denial. Depending on the reasons for the denial, you may reapply another time.

23. Are scholarship awards considered taxable income?
No. Based on IRS Tax Benefits for Education, you are allowed to exclude up to $5,250 of educational assistance benefits you receive each year from your employer under an educational assistance program.

Employees awarded a scholarship must agree to each of the items listed below.

  • I agree to the terms and conditions as outlined in King County’s Professional Development Scholarship Fund policy.
  • I understand that a scholarship award is not an entitlement, and that the provisions of the Professional Development Scholarship Fund do not constitute an express or implied contract.
  • I understand that I must register and pay for my approved training within calendar 60 days of receiving my scholarship award letter, OR within 60 days of the training institution accepting registration for my approved training. I understand that failure to meet these timelines may result in me losing my scholarship unless I provide mitigating reasons for not meeting these timeframes within the 60-day period.
  • I understand that if the training being paid for by the Professional Development Scholarship Program occurs during my workday, I must obtain pre-approval from my supervisor for any work schedule changes prior to the award being made. By checking this box, I am confirming that I have obtained approval from my supervisor for any work schedule changes, if applicable, OR that the training will not affect my current work schedule.
  • I agree to contact the Scholarship Program Manager, who will be listed on the Scholarship Award Letter, if I have questions or if I am unable to complete the training funded by my scholarship award.
  • I understand that I will be held responsible for repaying the scholarship award if I am unable to complete the training, OR if I do not supply proof of completing the training within 60 days of completion.
  • I understand that I will be held responsible for repaying the scholarship award if I do not remain employed at King County, or in good standing, for the duration of the training paid for by the Professional Development Scholarship Program.
  • I agree to return to King County any refunds sent to me from the training organization for any training paid by the Professional Development Scholarship Program.
  • I authorize King County to recover scholarship funds awarded to me if I voluntarily resign from King County employment, am terminated “for cause” prior to completion of the training, or for other reasons as outlined in the Professional Development Program policy.

Employees are encouraged to work with their supervisor; manager; their department HR staff, training staff and Equity and Inclusion Belonging Managers.

The Career Support Services website has resources and links to self-assessment tools so you can learn more about your transferable skills, career interests, and workplace values. There are website links to locate training, certifications, licenses and apprenticeships; and links to websites to help you explore different career occupations, including links to King County’s job classifications and what those classifications pay.

You can also email CareerSupportServices@kingcounty.gov if you are seeking other types of help.

For questions email ScholarshipFund@kingcounty.gov.