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Empowering employees to achieve their career goals



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


The Professional Development Scholarship Fund is a pilot program for 2019. Scholarship funds will be awarded to eligible employees represented by a union in the Coalition for training that occurs in 2019. The intent of the scholarship is to support employees in achieving their career goals at King County or enhance their work related skills.

The maximum total amount an eligible employee can receive in scholarship funds in 2019 is $2,500.

To be eligible for a scholarship award, an employee must be represented by one of the unions in the Coalition AND:

  1. Be a current career service, regular civil service or an appointed employee who has completed their initial probationary period, if applicable; AND;
  2. Have completed at least one year of full or part time county employment in a position eligible for comprehensive leave benefits. This includes any time spent in a Term Limited-Temporary position; AND
  3. Have not had any documented performance or discipline issues for at least one year from the date of submitting the Scholarship Fund application form.

Please contact your department HR staff if you are unsure if you meet these criteria.

2019 application and award notification dates

  • Application period: January 16 – February 6: Awards will be made by March 15 for training that begins on or after March 22.
  • Application period: March 25 – April 12: Awards will be made by May 10 for training that begins on or after May 17.
  • Application period: July 8 – 26: Awards will be made by August 30 for training that begins on or after September 6.
  1. Department training funds must be requested first. Therefore, you must submit a written request  to your supervisor asking if department funds are available for your training. The written request (letter or email) must include the title of the training, the name of the training organization, date/s of the training, what you will learn and how this training will be of benefit to you. If your department is unable to pay for the training or can only pay a portion of it, then you may apply for a scholarship.
  2. Apply online at the County’s job page during the application period. Search for the job listing titled “MLA Professional Development Scholarship Fund.”
  3. Attach a copy of your written request and your supervisor’s response to your on-line scholarship application.
  4. Ensure your application is complete and submitted by the deadline date listed.
  5. Your application will be reviewed for completeness and to verify that you meet Scholarship Fund eligibility requirements. Those who pass this step will be forwarded to the Scholarship Review Committee for review.
  6. The Scholarship Review Committee reviews applications and makes award recommendations based on criteria listed in the on-line scholarship posting. In the event that there are more employees recommended for awards than there are funds available, a lottery process will be used to determine award recipients.
  7. Scholarship applicants will be notified of scholarship decisions by the Award Notification date.
  8. Scholarship recipients complete and submit the Award Terms of Agreement.
  9. Scholarship recipients will be emailed an Award Letter outlining the details and process for accessing their award.
  10. Award recipients have the option to self-pay and seek reimbursement for approved costs or request that the county direct pay the training organization.
  11. Scholarship recipients email the required documentation showing that the employee completed the training funded by the Scholarship Award.

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 scholarship funds?
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 Fund only for employees who are members of the Coalition of Unions?
This 2019 Pilot is a benefit that was negotiated between King County and the Unions that make up the Coalition as part of the 2018 Master Labor Agreement.

3. 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 $2,500; however, those who have not received a scholarship award will be given preference.

4. Does my supervisor have to sign off on my request for scholarship funds?
The only time your supervisor needs to approve your request is if the training will occur during your normal work hours, or if the training will somehow impact your normal work schedule.

5. What is the maximum amount of scholarship funds I can receive?
An employee can receive a maximum total of $2,500 for all trainings combined that occur in 2019.

6. 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 Application Review Committee.

7. The application only allows an employee to request scholarship funds for training from one training organization. What if I want to request scholarship funds for training from two or more different training organizations during the same application period?
You must submit a separate application for each training, up to a maximum combined total of $2,500.

8. 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. If an employee doesn’t pass the course or the professional certification exam, funds may not be used to pay the registration costs to sit for the exam again.

9. Will the Scholarship Fund pay for conference registration fees, travel and accommodations?
Funds may not be used to cover costs associated with travel, meals and accommodations. Conference registration costs will be allowed ONLY IF:

  • the conference sponsor is offering a training option during the conference which meets continuing education unit (CEU) requirements towards the employee’s existing professional certification; AND
  • the conference sponsor can provide the employee with written official verification/certification that the employee completed the training; AND
  • the employee completes the CEU certified training during the conference.
If there is an additional cost for the CEU certified training, that cost is allowed.

10. How can I find out if my union is a participating union in the Master Labor Agreement (MLA)?
A list of unions that are part of the Coalition of Unions can be found at www.kingcounty/ScholarshpFund. You may also ask your HR person or Union Shop Steward.

11. How many awards will be given out each quarter?
There is $150,000 budgeted in 2019 for scholarships. One-fourth of that amount ($37,500) is allocated for each quarter. Funds not used each quarter will be carried over to the following quarter. The county will make as many awards as possible with the funding available each quarter.

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

13. Can I request scholarship funds as a temporary employee in the Coalition?
Only those who meet the eligibility requirements outlined below may apply for scholarship funds:

  • Are a current career service, regular, civil service or an appointed employee represented by one of the unions in the Coalition AND have completed their initial probationary period, if applicable; AND;
  • Have completed at least one year of full or part time county employment in a position eligible for comprehensive leave benefits (this includes time spent in a Term-Limited Temporary position); AND
  • Have not had performance or discipline issues for at least one year from the date of submitting the Scholarship Fund application form.

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

15. What criteria will be used to make award determinations?
Award determinations will be based upon:
  • Whether you meet the eligibility requirements.
  • How closely the training/course/class/etc. aligns with your career goals at King County.
  • If the training/course/class/etc. is relevant to work performed at King County.
  • Department approval (this is only required if the training/course/class/etc. occurs during your normally scheduled work hours or may impact your regular work schedule).

16. 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 the following quarter.

17. Are scholarship awards considered taxable income?
It depends. The employer is allowed to provide employees with education assistance as a business expense. However, the education assistance must be job related, which means that the training must be for the employee to maintain or improve his or her job skills or meet requirements for the employee to remain in his or her current position. Any education assistance provided outside these parameters may be considered taxable income.

A key question asked in the scholarship application is how the training will support you in meeting your career goals or enhancing your work-related skills. To help you respond to this question, here are several good examples of what employees have submitted.

View sample responses of how this training supports your career goals here.

Employees who are notified of having been selected to receive a Scholarship Fund Award will be required to complete and return via email the Award Terms of Agreement document to This must be done prior to the award being finalized.

Download the Award Terms of Agreement.

We are working towards creating a workplace where employees are supported to learn, innovate, and grow their career while doing their best work for our community. We also provide additional resources such as training, stretch opportunities, mentoring and career support to help you plot a career path.

For questions or comments, email