Strengthening Youth Empowerment through Community

The School’s Out Washington (SOWA) office was full of discussion, laughter, and the sounds of Beyonce’s latest hit, “Texas Hold ‘Em,” on Thursday, March 7, for the Best Starts for Kids (BSK) Initiative’s first initiative-wide Learning Community Meeting (LCM).   “The LCM was a fun and great opportunity to connect with peers who are passionate about youth work and are willing to discover and talk about ways to advocate and uplift our youth,” shared Yesenia Beltran, Targeted Academic and Behavior Support for BSK grantees Dick Scobee Elementary and Cascade Middle School.   LCMs are cohort-based peer learning opportunities where all members of … [ ]

Celebrating and reflecting on the 2024 legislative session

The 2024 legislative session was fast and furious. Let’s take a moment to highlight and celebrate the work that went into a great session.  Our School’s Out Washington (SOWA) policy and advocacy team started preparing for the session in 2023. The Youth Development Strategy Table (YDST) is led by two committees. The Leadership Committee approves the legislative agenda and oversees the strategic activities of the coalition. The Legislative Committee sets the legislative priorities and strategies. During the summer of 2023, the two committees decided to put forward a $5 million youth development grant proviso. After meeting with key policymakers and … [ ]

We’re hiring: Marketing Manager

The Marketing Manager will support the implementation of communications plans for multiple practice areas and campaigns through planning, creative ideation, asset development, execution, and engagement tracking.

One woman’s journey to connection, impact, and service 

Mila Doroshchuk, the Program Coordinator with B5, a current School’s Out Washington (SOWA) Refugee School Impact Program (RSIP) grantee is leading the organization’s Ukrainian After School Program. Immigrating to the United States at six, Mila still remembers how intimidating it felt to be in a new country. Born in a village in the Ukraine, Mila lived with her parents and six siblings. Her life would change forever when her parents announced they were moving to the US. “I had just turned six, so I hadn’t even gone to school yet. I was always only with my mom,” said Mila. Stuffing … [ ]

Kids and Paper: a legacy built on family traditions, love and creativity

Kids and Paper was born out of the experience of love, change, and a mother noticing her child’s irrepressible self-expression through drawing. Now, Kids and Paper have provided 200 children with a program where they are encouraged to safely and freely express themselves through art, play, academics, and more in a warm, creative, family-oriented environment.     Azadeh Eslamy, Executive Director of Kids and Paper, was running youth programming in Lebanon when the country experienced economic collapse, leading to her family’s evacuation to the United States, where they settled in Seattle. As they adjusted to the city, one of Azadeh’s children became … [ ]

2024 Legislative Session

This legislative session, we are asking the legislature for a budget proviso to allocate funding in the 2024 budget, administered through the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), for a grant program that supports the creation, expansion and quality improvement of community-based youth development programs that contribute to young people’s health, wealth, and well-being.