Best Starts for Kids and the celebrations of 2.0 (so far)

In summer of 2022, School’s Out Washington launched the second iteration of the Best Starts for Kids (BSK) Expanded Learning initiative. We celebrated the distribution of over 16 million dollars in funding awarded across 62 different community programs throughout King County, and an in-depth guided experience of the Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) process. Each incredible program provides high quality expanded learning opportunities for youth, ages 5-13, who are BIPOC and/or living in poverty in King County.   The 62 grantees hit the ground running with school and programs starting shortly after the funding announcement. The BSK Expanded Learning initiative is a … [ ]

2022 Bridge Conference Reflections

Conferences are a time to learn, reconnect, and dream a little bigger. At this year’s Bridge Conference, there was an undeniable hum of excitement in the air. We were back together, in-person, after two years of connecting virtually. Youth development leaders, community workers and organizers traveled from across the state and beyond to hear from one another. Lines formed at registration as early as 7:30 AM and groups gathered with their pastries and coffee waiting for the first plenary to begin. Tanaya Winder grounded the crowd of over 530 in intentionality and the hard work of the “heartwork.” From there … [ ]

Celebrating queer youth leadership, every day.

An oasis is defined as a, “peaceful area in the midst of a difficult or hectic place.” For LGBTQ youth in Tacoma,  Oasis Youth Center  is just that.  For more than 36 years it has been a place of joy, community, and understanding. Their mission is to, “transforms the lives of queer youth by creating a safe place to learn, connect, and thrive.”  “Oasis believes that queer youth are amazing leaders that have the ability to change the world,” said Siggy Frank, Program Manager at Oasis Youth Center. Frank was introduced to Oasis at 14 years old  and participated in … [ ]

Graduate Tacoma and the spirit of collaboration.

Graduate Tacoma is a community-wide movement of more than 350 cross-sector partners across the full education ecosystem. The Foundation for Tacoma Students (FFTS) plays a unique role in building and strengthening the community-wide movement to help every child achieve success from cradle to college and career. “The most unique thing we see [in Tacoma] is the spirit of collaboration. How do we make sure that students have access to all of our programs or how do we make sure folks know what kinds of programs we have and fill gaps where we know there aren’t enough programs? That spirit of … [ ]

Celebrating the 2018-2021 BSK Out-of-School Time Cohort

In 2018, SOWA implemented the first round of Best Starts for Kids (BSK) funding and support known as the Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Initiative. We partnered with 32 organizations that provide access to consistent, high-quality, and culturally relevant summer and afterschool programming, infusing more than $12 million to underserved communities across King County. Grantees more than doubled the number of youth served to reach over 2,100 in their BSK Out-of-School Time programming in Fall 2021, according to Public Profit’s final evaluation. Some grantees dramatically expanded the number of youth they were able to serve, and other grantees created … [ ]

Play is for everyone with Greentrike

Be inquisitive. Be about community. Truly. Let youth not only be a voice, but an active contributor for the programs they want to be a part of.  These are just a few takeaways from my conversation with Fahren Johnson,  Director of Strategic Initiatives at Greentrike in Tacoma. Greentrike is an organization that “honors children and youth and champions play.” Beginning as the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Greentrike has become a county-wide advocacy and education organization—one that believes playful experiences are essential for learning, joy, and a thriving community. Fahren emphasized that accessibility is key to their work. The organization is … [ ]