Youth Program Quality Initiative

School’s Out Washington believes that quality doesn’t occur by accident. Some people may have a natural talent for connecting with youth or organizing fun activities, but ensuring that school-age children and youth are getting the best possible experience from a program takes intentionality.

Much research has been done in recent years to identify the program components that correlate to better outcomes for kids in one aspect or another. The focus of this research may be anything from academic outcomes to social/emotional health to increased attendance rates to generally positive experience. Some program components, like staff-youth relationships, appear as key items across several quality studies.

Youth Program Quality Initiative

School’s Out Washington is very excited to be leading the Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI), in partnership with the Raikes Foundation, whose mission is to provide opportunities and support during adolescence to help young people become healthy, contributing adults. As literature from the Raikes Foundation states, “the Youth Program Quality Initiative will support programs by providing funding and the opportunity to engage staff in an intensive professional development process that reflects best practices in the field of youth development. 

Quality Standards

School's Out Washington has created the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs to support Washington State programs in achieving positive youth outcomes by providing staff with guidelines for what quality looks like in a program setting.

Download the Quality Standards (pdf).

Who is using PQI?

School’s Out Washington is currently supporting the Raikes Foundation Youth Program Quality Initiative which focuses on organizations providing out-of-school time programs in King, Pierce and Spokane Counties. While it is important that youth have access to positive developmental opportunities in all settings, research shows that youth engaged in high quality programs during out-of-school hours gain social, emotional, and intellectual benefits.

Congratulations to the following programs, who have been selected to participate in the 2013 cohorts:


King County
  • The Center for Wooden Boats
  • Navos
  • New Futures
  • Pacific Ballroom Dance
  • Red Eagle Soaring
  • SeaMar Community Health Center
  • Urban Artworks
  • Urban Impact
  • The Vera Project
  • Village Theatre KIDSTAGE
Pierce County
  • Consejo Counseling & Referral Service – Pierce County Youth Chemical Dependency Program
  • Fab-5 – FABITAT
  • Peace Community Center – Hilltop FLITE 
  • Metro Parks Tacoma – SPARX Youth Development
  • Tacoma Art Museum – Art Club
  • Tacoma Urban League – Male Involvement Program

Spokane County

  • Northeast Youth Center – NEYC Before/After School Program
  • Garry Middle School – ACCESS and Garry Mentor Group
  • Odyssey Youth Center – Odyssey Youth Board

The following programs began participation in 2012:

King County

  • Ashoka – Seattle Youth Venture
  • Bike Works – Earn-a-Bike
  • Community for Youth
  • Coyote Central – Studio Coyote
  • HOPE worldwide Washington Chapter – Mack Strong
  • TEAMWORKS Academy – InterimWILD Program
  • Seattle Art Museum – Teen Advisory Group
  • Seattle Children’s Theatre Core Acting
  • The Service Board – Core Program
  • Technology Access Foundation – TechStart
  • Vietnamese Friendship Association – Saturday English School

Pierce County

  • Children's Home Society - Key Peninsula Family Resource Center
  • Hilltop Artists
  • Pierce County AIDS Foundation - Oasis Youth Center
  • Safe Streets Campaign
  • Tahoma Audobon Society
  • YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties

The Greater Tacoma Community
Foundation is the lead agency for the Pierce county HUB.


Click here to see the list of Raikes Foundation King County grantees since 2009.

Click here to see 2011-2012 Spokane County grantees.

Youth Program Quality Assessment

These sites will undergo a program improvement process, with internal and external assessments, on-site coaching, training, and funds to support them throughout. School’s Out Washington will be supporting the project with the on-site coaching and external assessments, using the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) developed by the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. The Center is also a partner in this project, providing materials, training, and technical assistance.

The David P. Weikart Center's Approach

As described by the Weikart Center their "youth development approach is based in positive youth development research. The approach, as represented in the pyramid above, is premised on the belief that it is job of the Youth Worker to set up an environment for youth in which needs are met and learning is encouraged—to create a space in which youth can thrive. The pyramid provides a way to organize the many, many things a youth worker does to build a great experience for young people."

The YPQI is built to improve quality at the point of service, that is, where youth, adults and resources come together. It is built around the research validated Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQ) which contains the quality items in the pyramid above.

Lasting quality improvement requires more than what you get in a typical training. That’s why the Weikart Center helps youth programs establish quality improvement systems to support staff. Our improvement approach is based on the assess-plan-improve sequence:


How the YPQA Process Affected One Community

From the Weikart Center, "This inspiring 12-minute video documents how the Georgetown Divide, a small community in the Sierra foothills of Northern California has embraced a positive youth development approach across the settings where youth spend time and has anchored that commitment through widespread use of the Youth Program Quality Assessment."

Click here to learn more about the Weikart Center's approach.