Best Starts for Kids  renewal  headed to the August 2021  ballot in King County! 

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Centering Culture

Holistic community support for youth and families. This is the overarching purpose of King County’s Best Starts for Kids Initiative.

As we’ve seen with the inaugural Best Starts Out-of-School Time grant—led by School’s Out Washington—increasing the availability of high-quality, culturally relevant youth programs means that our region’s kids grow academically, socially, and emotionally. And this August, voters will have the opportunity to ensure that life-changing youth programs stay strong. 

With the support of King County voters, we’ve provided funding, coaching, program quality support, and capacity building for more than three years to 35 organizations and partnerships. SOWA focused on two important models for this initiative:

Between 2018-2020, our BSK programs delivered more than 130,000 hours of afterschool and summer programming.  

Beyond the numbers—what has Best Starts Out-of-School meant for King County?  

Investment in culturally relevant youth programs that are by-and-for communities
BSK partners provide vibrant opportunities that center the cultures and heritage of youth in their communities.   

Eliminating barriers, promoting access
Multi-year funding and capacity-building support means more high-quality programs for youth and families—especially in under-invested communities.  

New, dynamic youth programming in primarily high-poverty areas:  

Diverse programming options and seamless delivery
Partners in Place-Based Collaboratives offer an abundance of opportunities and work together to develop shared practices so that youth experience consistent, high-quality programs.  

  • The Highlands Neighborhood Center in Renton is home to the STREAM Team where kids participate in STEM learning with Techbridge Girls, environmental education with the Environmental Science Center, Spanish-language education and cultural enrichment with Centro Rendu, and academic and recreation programs with the City of Renton.  
  • Youth in the Alcove, Arbor Heights, Windsor Heights, and Woodridge Park housing communities participate in the New Futures program of Southwest Youth and Family Services. In partnership with Arts Corps and Geeking Out Kids of Color, they deliver STEM education, arts education, and academic and social-emotional support.