Reflecting on key learnings: 5 themes critical to our collective work

At Best Starts, we ground our work in community knowledge as well as science and research in an effort to continually reflect community expertise, address gaps in services and resources, and support the health and well-being of families and communities. To continually strengthen and deepen our partnerships in the renewed Best Starts initiative, we know it’s important to reflect back on key learnings from the first levy and apply lessons to our ongoing implementation and continued work!

In 2021, we partnered with Cardea, an external evaluation organization, to develop a series of case studies that document key learnings from the first levy. After listening to what Best Starts partners shared about program implementation and diving into evaluation data, Cardea identified 5 key themes that were critical to Best Starts partners, spanning all strategies.

Key Learnings from Best Starts Partners

In each case study shared below, we share stories and data from Best Starts partners that highlight these five themes!

Cardea also partnered with local artist, Michael B. Maine, to create a series of videos featuring Best Starts partners so that we can directly hear about their experiences in their own words. We’re thankful for the nine partner organizations who participated in conversations so we could better represent their work related to the case study themes! Although so many Best Starts partners could be highlighted for their incredible work, these nine organizations were selected because the stories they had previously shared with Best Starts were particularly well aligned with the themes.


Theme #1 – Leading with Equity

We know that Best Starts partners collaborate closely with families and communities to ensure services are centering their expertise, building off their strengths, and leading with equity to support the health and well-being of our kids and young people.

Check out Cardea’s full findings here to learn how partners have implemented programming that elevates the power of the communities they work within to overcome barriers so that everyone can thrive.

And shared in their own words….

Theme #2 – Centering Culture and Language

Best Starts partner organizations center culture and language to build off the strengths of the communities they serve and actively create environments where every family can thrive.

Check out their full findings here to learn how community based partners provided provide culturally and linguistically aligned services and support to families as they navigated systems.

And shared in their own words….

Theme #3 – Supporting Communities that Thrive

Our partners support and build community resiliency by trusting that communities know their needs best, facilitating connections among neighbors, and supporting young people with planning for their future.

Check out Cardea’s full findings here to learn why supporting thriving communities through programs that prioritized trust, relationships, and protective factors has been so critical to our collective work.

And shared in their own words….

#4 – Building Organizational and Community Strength

We know that our partners are closest to their communities and are in the best position to nourish the strengths of kids, young, people, and families. We have also heard from partners, reflected in Cardea’s findings, that capacity building support has been key to developing culturally-centered programming, building organizational infrastructure, and cultivating more environments where kids, teens, and young adults can fully thrive.

Check out Cardea’s full findings here to hear from partners and learn how capacity building resources and guidance has enabled them to best support their communities.

#5 – Working to Transform Policies, Systems, and Environments

We know that community-led organizations have and continue to build off of strong existing relationships with other providers in King County to amplify partnerships, impact policies, systems, and environments, and create greater health and well being opportunities for babies, children, and families.

Check out Cardea’s full findings here to learn how Best Starts partners expanded their organizational capacity to participate in partnership and relationship building and how that has enabled them to transform policies, systems, and environments in King County.

And shared in their own words….

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