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:
- People of Color-Led organizations who serve primarily youth of color in a culturally specific space
- Place-Based Collaboratives represent multiple organizations partnering to deliver more and better afterschool and summer programs for youth in underinvested communities.
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.
- Chinese Information and Service Center, Filipino Community of Seattle, and Iraqi Community Center of Washington are among many Best Starts grantees who deliver programming in families’ home language.
- Open Doors for Multicultural Families tailors their services to center youth with disabilities in immigrant and refugee families.
- East African Community Services prioritizes highlighting BIPOC, especially immigrants when inviting guest speakers to present their career in their youth mentoring program.
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.
- The Bellevue Collaborative provides scholarships to childcare and out-of-school time programs and subsidized ORCA cards for families.
- Life Enrichment Group offers programming within a school building, increasing the ability for youth to participate.
- Kandelia utilized funding to provide transportation to and from programming.
- Walk Away City Collaborative and Kent Youth and Family Services provided stipends to promote youth engagement and support whole families.
New, dynamic youth programming in primarily high-poverty areas:
- The Highlands Collaborative in the Renton Highlands
- Urban Family and Somali Youth and Family Club in Skyway
- Walk Away City Collaborative in Tukwila
- Empowering Youth and Families Outreach and WAPI Community Services in Federal Way
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.