Our Mission Statement
School’s Out Washington provides services and guidance for organizations to ensure all young people have safe places to learn and grow when not in school. SOWA is dedicated to building community systems to support quality afterschool, youth development, and summer programs for Washington’s children and youth ages 5 through young adulthood.
Our expertise is in strengthening the Expanded Learning field – the afterschool and out-of-school-time programs that engage young people in high quality enrichment, academic support, and social-emotional development.
Children and youth spend only 20 percent of their waking hours in school. How they spend the remaining 80 percent of time has a profound impact on their growth and development. A growing body of research shows that high-quality out-of-school time programs are linked to positive academic and social emotional youth outcomes, including:
- improved attendance and grades
- increased engagement, motivation, growth mindset, and cooperation
- the development of career pathway skills
For three decades, School’s Out Washington (SOWA) has served a critical role to advance equitable expanded learning ecosystems in Washington state. We work to ensure high-quality afterschool and summer programs are available so all of Washington’s youth—but especially low-income youth and youth of color—can have the opportunities they deserve to thrive.
Every year SOWA supports approximately 650 afterschool and summer programs through assessments, training and coaching, impacting 90,000 young people across the state of Washington. Through our grant-making, we drive funding to expand access and improve quality for programs that predominantly serve low-income, youth-of-color and refugees, reaching 10,000 youth last year.
We support these programs through our four pronged approach:
- Quality and Training. We build up programs that are leveling the opportunity gap, engaging them in a research-based quality improvement process that is proven to improve staff practice and bolster youth outcomes.
- Grants to Programs. We fund culturally responsive programs that are reaching the most under-resourced kids and give them the tools and ongoing support to expand their reach and deepen their impact.
- Advocacy. We drive critical conversations in state and local government, leading coalitions, and championing funding and policies that advance equitable youth development and expanded learning opportunities for youth from 5 to young adulthood.
- Racial Equity. We deliver trainings and advance policies aimed at addressing structural racism and closing opportunity gaps.
School's Out Washington is the fiscal sponsor for Youth Development Executives of King County (YDEKC) and SOAR, two community coalitions serving young people in the Seattle area.
Read about some of our work and partnerships across Washington state.
Our Commitment to Racial Equity
Data on a variety of youth outcomes show us that racial disparities continue to exist. At SOWA, we are committed to addressing how these disparities impact young people in our communities.
We believe that access to high-quality expanded learning opportunities is essential for closing the opportunity gap and challenging inequity. We know first-hand from three decades of work in diverse communities how expanded learning opportunities can level the playing field. That is why we strive to increase access to quality programs for youth of color and low-income youth so that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Our Annual Report and Strategic Plan
Read more about our work and goals in our annual report and strategic plan.
2019-2022 Strategic Plan
2018 Annual Report
School’s Out Washington partners with organizations, government agencies, and funders across the state to build a strong, unified expanded learning system that gives all young people equitable access to engaging learning outside of school. Some of our many partnerships include:
Housing and Expanded Learning Opportunities (HELO) Network
Lead Partners: King County Housing Authority, Housing Development Consortium, Youth Development Executives of King County
Location: King County
With a focus on accessible, high quality experiences to youth in affordable housing communities, the HELO Network provides low cost and free trainings to youth development workers, with topics such as youth voice, empathy and emotion management, and structural racism and cultural responsiveness. And it promotes peer-to peer-learning, membership collaboration, and leveraging of resources, and supports a cohort of programs engaging in the Youth Program Quality Intervention.
Best Start for Kids
Lead Partner: King County
Location: King County
Based on a long record of promoting high-quality and equitable practices in expanded learning, School’s Out Washington was chosen by King County to lead and administer the Best Starts for Kids Quality Out-of-School-Time investment. Thirty-four afterschool programs are receiving three years of funding and rigorous quality improvement supports from School’s Out Washington to bring vibrant expanded learning to under-resourced communities.
Feed Your Brain
Lead Partners: Discuren Charitable Foundation, Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, Innovia Foundation
Location: Eastern and Central Washington
This SOWA-created program gives funding and training to schools, community-based organizations, and tribes running summer learning programs, while also connecting them to federal funding for nutritious summer meals. We've supported more than 175 summer literacy programs benefiting approximately 20,000 children since 2001.
The Roadmap Project
Lead Partners: Community Center for Education Results, Youth Development Executives of King County
Location: South Seattle and South King County
This collective impact initiative addresses systemic barriers to racial equity and education opportunities in South Seattle and South King County, including a focus on equitable access to high quality expanded learning.
Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative (ELOQI)
Lead Partners: Department of Children, Youth, and Families; Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction; Child Care Aware; University of Washington
Locations: King, Pierce, Spokane, and Walla Walla Counties
Fifty youth programs across the state are part of this three-year initiative to build an expanded learning quality improvement system across the state. SOWA is supporting these providers with a rigorous quality improvement practice to improve youth outcomes.
The Zone Project
School’s Out is an advisor and training partner for this important cross-sector initiative that’s tackling inequities and lack of access to high-quality in-school and expanded learning in Spokane’s highest-poverty neighborhood.
21st Century Community Learning Centers
Key Partners: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
High poverty, underserved schools receive critical support from the only dedicated federal funding stream for expanded learning, plus coaching, training, and continuous quality improvement from School’s Out Washington.