The Quality Out-of-School Time initiative invests in youth programs grounded in community and culture.

The RFP for Best Starts for Kids Expanded Learning funding will be released by early spring, 2022.  Connect with SOWA on social media and join our email list to stay updated on the BSK RFP and other opportunities.

In 2017, King County’s Best Starts for Kids (BSK) and School’s Out Washington began their partnership to implement the Quality Out-of-School Time initiative. It funds organizations that provide access to consistent, high-quality, and culturally relevant summer and afterschool programming to underserved communities and geographies.

Quality out-of-school time programs include educational enrichment, cultural and social development activities, recreation, physical activity, and health promotion, visual and performing arts, tutoring and homework services, and leadership skills. 

As part of this investment, all grantees participate in SOWA’s Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI) process with the aim of engaging in continuous quality improvement supports and promoting social-emotional learning. The Quality Out-of-School Time funding strategy includes two models:

  • Place-Based Partnerships
    The Place-Based model focuses on funding a programming collaborative that works together to provide comprehensive and consistent summer and afterschool programming to at least 50-150 youth per day in the neighborhood and school communities that lack access to high-quality out-of-school time programming. View the grantees
  • People of Color-Led Organizations
    This model focuses on strengthening program capacity and reach for culturally-responsive out-of-school time programs for and by communities of color. View the grantees

2018—2021 Best Starts for Kids Quality Out-of-School Time grantees

Through a three-year investment of $8.3 million, Best Starts for Kids and School’s Out Washington awarded a total of 35 grants. They include partnerships representing 23 organizations across King County and 12 People of Color-Led Organization grants.

Learn more about the implementation plan for the Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time investment process and strategy in the Process Summary and Initial Implementation Plan document.

Grant application and review process overview
To ensure information about this funding opportunity was accessible, SOWA held four in-person information sessions throughout the county. A recorded webinar of this information was also made available for potential applicants on our website. Additionally, as support to interested applicants, we partnered with Youth Development Executives of King County (YDEKC) to host four community workshops focused on program design and partnership development. Finally, six consultants provided technical support to organizations that requested assistance with the application process.

Proposals were read and evaluated by a review committee of 22 people. The review process was extensive, involving six small groups and one large group review meeting. The final award recommendations were reviewed and determined in partnership with Best Starts for Kids and King County Department of Community & Health Services leadership.


For questions on the Best Starts for Kids Quality Out-of-School Time initiative, please contact Omana Imani at