Seattle Parks and Recreation: Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Grantee Profile
SOWA is excited to work with the many amazing organizations funded through the King County Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time (BSK OST) investment! These organizations, funded either as stand alone People of Color-Led organizations or Place-Based Partnerships, are all working hard to maximize their positive impact on King County youth.
Learn more about Seattle Parks and Recreation, funded as the lead organization of a Place-Based Partnership Grant.
SEATTLE PARKS AND RECREATION
Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is the lead organization in a Place-Based Partnership at Northgate Elementary School with STEMPaths Innovation Network. At their Northgate site, they’re the recipient of 21st Century Community Learning Center’s OSPI grant and have run programs for 60 kids, focusing on math and reading intervention two days a week and enrichment two days a week. They also run a 4-day, 6-week summer school program.
With the BSK OST investment, SPR has been able to expand their out of school time programming. Prior to receiving these funds, SPR programs were specifically serving kids who needed academic support. Northgate Elementary School has a large number of low-income, high-need students and the SPR program did not offer opportunities for students at-level. Now, all students in 2nd through 5th grade can attend the program, which includes increased enrichment offerings. Programs will now run for 32 weeks in the school year (previously 30 weeks), and will run 5 days a week in the summer (previously 4 days a week). SPR was also able to purchase a second bus to reduce transportation time for students, which could sometimes take as long as 90 minutes to get home. Additionally, the BSK OST investment strengthened partnerships with existing partners such as SPIN.
SPR has been able to hire more staff members, and build not only program capacity but also staff capacity through regular meetings to discuss program improvement processes and workshop problems, as well as increased access to professional development. During the summer program, SPR staff had an hour-long meeting to discuss how to support SEL skills with reflection circles focusing on leadership and mindfulness practices. Funding for staff meetings enables deeper engagement with the PQA tool.
Similarly, paid professional development opportunities strengthen staff’s youth development skills. Trainings include interrupting racism and microaggressions and trauma-informed behavioral guidance. Staff buy-in has increased now that they’ve been empowered with tangible strategies to positively impact the youth they serve. SOWA’s professional development trainings provide vital learning opportunities for site-level staff, ad it is sometimes challenging for site coordinators to address staff training needs within the time and cost constraints present in many youth programs. With new capacity supports the program is now accessible to all students, including students in the bilingual newcomer orientation program and students with behavioral challenges.
Being part of a Place-Based Partnership allows SPR to continue to work very closely with SPIN, an organization that has shared goals about how to serve the specific students at Northgate. The partnership model supports collaboration on a deeper level than had been done previously, and enables the shifting of “cultural goals” due to shared SEL language. Both organizations have been working through the spring and summer to create a cohesive cultural environment, and are hopeful that this fall that culture shift will be realized.