Policy & Advocacy

Invest in Youth Development. Now and for the future.

School’s Out Washington is a leading voice for equitable and high-quality expanded learning opportunities in Washington state. We advocate for policies and funding that elevate the entire field of youth development while centering the needs of Black, Indigenous and youth color (BIPOC) and others furthest from educational justice.

A substantial investment in youth development is needed now.

Like any critical system, youth development requires resources, reliable data, and dedicated funding to continue delivering high-quality, equitable programming for Washington’s youth.

“There has always been a gap in how youth development work is viewed and resourced, but it took a pandemic to truly expose just how wide and skewed it is. It took a pandemic to expose who has access and who does not, even though data before the pandemic, over and over again, told us that historically marginalized communities faced huge education and opportunity gaps. Once we know better, we do better…our young people need all eyes on them right now, we must do better for them.”


Fahren Johnson, Director of Strategy & Partnerships

What we're fighting for

High quality youth programs have the power to transform lives and strengthen communities.
Youth programs already reinforce the academic, social-emotional, and prevention goals of many state and local agencies. They are part of an upstream, holistic approach to building and maintaining support systems that invest early in the strengths of children and young people. Yet there is no state infrastructure currently supporting the youth development field and its workforce. And both public/private funding streams are extremely limited.

Access for all

In Washington state, there is little public funding for youth development programs. The impact is stark with significant racial and geographic disparities in who has access.

Youth development programs provide support and enrichment beyond the school day, but many families cannot afford programming. Rural and high-poverty communities and communities of color simply do not have enough programs to meet the needs of their youth.

Strong, resilient communities

Youth development programs fill gaps and provide services and support outside of the traditional school day. Yet, nearly 50% of parents in Washington report there is no available afterschool program in their neighborhood.

Community-centered youth programs offer the extra time and structure needed to support children and families with safe, accessible, and culturally-responsive programming.

Healthy, thriving young people

Post-pandemic, Washington families, teachers, and youth workers continue to see overwhelming needs as youth struggle academically and with mental health.

Through mentorship, tutoring, and specially designed programming, youth development meets young people where they’re at—physically, academically, and socially-emotionally.

Learn more
Get involved

Join the Youth Development Strategy Table. The Youth Development Strategy Table is a coalition of public and non-profit stakeholders working to establish a focused state-level youth development effort to sustain early learning gains, improve academic and social-emotional outcomes, and prevent deep end system involvement. Learn more.

National Afterschool Association (NAA).
SOWA is the Washington state affiliate of NAA. NAA is the membership association for professionals who work with children and youth in diverse school and community-based settings to provide a wide variety of extended learning opportunities and care during out-of-school hours. 

Learn more about NAA

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