New investments expand quality after school and summer learning opportunities

Best Starts for Kids, in partnership with School’s Out Washington,  today announced new investments to create more opportunities for children and young people to flourish outside of the school day.

The new investment will expand access to quality before, after school, weekend, and summer learning and enrichment opportunities for elementary and middle school students. Best Starts and School’s Out Washington awarded 19 grants, totaling $8.3 million in Best Starts for Kids funding over 3 years. Awardees include single organizations and partnerships representing 35 organizations across King County.

Above, Students at Northgate Elementary Community Learning Center. Best Starts for Kids will expand the center’s afterschool and summer programs, with a focus on math skills, science, and reading and writing enrichment.

“Thanks to these investments, kids will have enriching places to go before and after school,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “I am happy to see the geographical and cultural diversity of these grant recipients, many of whom work in South King County.”

Click here to view the full list of awardees on School’s Out Washington’s website.

Funding models respond to community input

The investment includes a two-pronged strategy based on community input: investing in a partnership of organizations centered around a school or housing community; and supporting organizations led by and serving people of color to increase their capacity to deliver high-quality, impactful services.

“By approaching this investment with two different strategies, we are responding to community input gathered throughout the Best Starts for Kids planning process” said Elizabeth Whitford, CEO of School’s Out Washington. “We want to make sure that more low-income children and youth have consistent access to high quality summer and afterschool programs connected to their schools or communities, while also ensuring targeted support for organizations founded by and within communities of color to help grow their programming and capacity within King County’s summer and afterschool system.”

Funded programs represent a wide range of activities, including the following two examples of the different funding models:

  • Place-Based Partnership: Neighborhood House will partner with Auburn’s Dick Scobee Elementary and Cascade Middle Schools to provide afterschool and summer programming to children and youth, living in and around the housing communities of Burndale Homes and Firwood Circle.
  • People of Color Led Organization: East African Community Services provides afterschool and summer programming for middle school and elementary school low-income, under-served East African youth in Southeast Seattle. Programming will focus on academic achievement as well as culture and identity.

In addition to providing programming to kids afterschool and in the summer, the selected organizations will engage in a research-based quality improvement process. Organizations will receive coaching and training from School’s Out Washington focused on positive youth interaction and engagement.

Best Starts for Kids identified School’s Out Washington as a partner to administer the Quality Out-of-School Time investment because of School’s Out’s long record of accomplishment in promoting high quality and culturally-responsive practices in summer and afterschool programs across Washington state.

“While this investment makes great strides in filling gaps in some of our highest needs communities across the county, we know it is just a beginning,” said Elizabeth Whitford, School’s Out Washington’s CEO. “With so many competitive proposals, narrowing down the decision was very challenging and a testament to the great work happening across our county and the opportunity for additional investments from the private sector to further leverage Best Starts for Kids and impact even more kids with quality afterschool and summer programs.”


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