New investments help more young people reach adulthood ready to thrive

Best Starts for Kids today launched new investments that will provide young people with the opportunities and tools they need to weather challenges during adolescence and be ready to flourish as adults.

The Youth Development initiative – a partnership between King County and 32 nonprofit organizations – will provide leadership opportunities, mentoring, and other services that help young people achieve their full potential.

“As a young person, I want to be in programs that see me as a change agent and not as a client. The funded programs are helping young people build skills to advocate for themselves and their communities,” said Hikma Sherka of the King County Youth Advisory Council, who participated in the application review process. “These programs recognize the strength and potential in the young people they serve and will help them become effective leaders who will shape our future.”

Click here and scroll to the bottom for a full list of investments.

Youth Development - City of Shoreline

Young people at the City of Shoreline Youth and Teen Development Program will lead work to improve programming to meet the needs of immigrant and refugee youth. Above, former program participants return to volunteer. Photo credit: City of Shoreline.

“More young people throughout King County will reach adulthood healthy, connected, empowered, and ready to thrive as a result of the partnerships we are creating with Best Starts for Kids,” said Executive Constantine. “The initiative we are launching today will create leadership opportunities for the generation that will shape the future of our region.”

The partner organizations successfully competed for $12.2 million in Best Starts for Kids funding to provide programs that have been shown to support healthy development. They include mentoring programs, leadership and engagement opportunities, programs that allow young people from many backgrounds to explore their identities and connect to their communities, and programs to develop skills in building healthy and safe relationships.

“This is an amazing group of organizations and programs,” said Jessica Werner, Executive Director of Youth Development Executives of King County. “It is excellent to see King County investing at this level in small, community-based organizations alongside larger organizations with longer track records. I am so excited to see the difference this initiative will make for young people in our region.”

King County received 171 applications for the initiative, demonstrating the need for dedicated public funding to support healthy youth development. This is one of several initiatives funded by Best Starts for Kids initiatives to support youth and young adults, which include upcoming funding for after-school and summer learning opportunities, and programs to create a pipeline to success for young people impacted by the juvenile justice system.

Meeting needs across King County

Funded programs include a wide range of activities to reach young people across King County’s urban, suburban, and rural communities. The goal is to create opportunities for young people from many backgrounds and communities to engage their strengths, unique identities, and life experiences in designing and accessing programs that meet their needs.

  • Trail Youth will partner with young people experiencing homelessness in the Snoqualmie Valley to build a youth coffeehouse. The coffeehouse will create a safe place for young people to connect with opportunities and services. Trail Youth will use the space for a mentoring program to build connections between young people and their communities, and empower them to lead successful lives.
  • With youth leadership and guidance, API Chaya will create new social justice leadership and community-building opportunities for Pacific Islander, Asian, and South Asian immigrant youth. Youth will have the opportunity to work with community-based mentors to develop their ideas, facilitate peer education workshops, and plan community-building events by and for youth.
  • The funding will support Urban Native Education Alliance in their ongoing efforts to develop young leaders on their Clear Sky Native Youth Council. The program will pair adult mentors with Native youth to develop academic and leadership skills, with the goal of improving education outcomes.

Funding for programs ranges between $123,060 and $543,355 to support programming for up to three years. King County will work closely with partners to set goals and closely measure the performance of each program.

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