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DEEL Advances Youth Leadership and Cultural Education Programming with $2.8 Million Investment  

DEEL Director Dr. Dwane Chappelle presents youth and staff at Friends of the Children-Seattle with the 2024 National Mentoring Month Proclamation on behalf of Mayor Harrell, January 30, 2024. Photo credit: Silvia Pereida

Six community partner organizations will expand Culturally Specific and Responsive programs to support BIPOC, immigrant, and refugee youth

SEATTLE (January 31) – The City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) is announcing six community-based organizations (CBO) selected to receive a total of $2.8 million in funding to implement culturally responsive leadership programs supporting Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC), immigrant, and refugee youth. Each awardee will receive funds ranging from $375,000 to $500,000 over two years of programming in 2024 and 2025.  

DEEL’s Youth Leadership and Cultural Education investment facilitates access to culturally affirming environments, creates unique opportunities for youth to cultivate self-determination and leadership skills, and promote social emotional wellness. The six organizations selected for this award include: Celebrating Roots, Creative Justice, Friends of the Children-Seattle, OneWorld Now!, South End Stories, and The Good Foot Arts Collective.       

“Young people flourish when they feel seen, heard, valued, and supported. Community spaces where youth of color can receive the support of role models and mentors who promote positive selfhood, teach leadership skills, and create opportunities for meaningful engagement are vital for the health and wellbeing of our entire community,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “When we commit to expanding access to programming that nurtures and empowers our young people today, we move toward ensuring a thriving and equitable One Seattle tomorrow.”  

Selected CBOs will expand their capacity to offer culturally specific and responsive programming to an estimated 2,000 students in Seattle over two years, 2024 through 2025. Youth development areas supported through this investment include: identity & belonging, learning & agency, and social emotional well-being.  

Awardees were selected through a competitive application process; 11 applications were received requesting a total of $5.1 million in funding. The application process included interviews conducted by youth panelists and considered applicant experience developing curriculum as well as prior experience with program implementation within a culturally affirming environments.   

“DEEL is proud to continue elevating the work of community-based organizations, who are key partners in our educational ecosystem, anchors in our community, and who consistently empower students furthest from educational justice, said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL. “This investment is an expression of DEEL’s commitment to cultivate a bright future for all Seattle students.”

Councilmember Maritza Rivera (District 4), Chair of the Libraries, Education, and Neighborhoods Committee shared, “Supporting the well-being of our youth is always a worthwhile investment. I am proud to support DEEL in this strategy. When youth, particularly those in underserved communities, have access to positive, supportive relationships and are equipped with the tools for their social-emotional learning, they will be better set up for academic success.” 

In honor of National Mentoring Month this January, partner organization Friends of the Children-Seattle (Friends-Seattle) is featured in this release. Friends-Seattle implements a long-term mentoring program with salaried professional mentors who support youth facing multiple systemic and institutional barriers.  

“Our work is about building strong, supportive relationships to support our youth, and their families,” said Sam Gorman, a program manager and mentor of the organization for more than four years. “As we build this robust community of mentorship, it’s incredible to see the ripple effect: a culture that enriches and supports our youth, their families, our mentors, staff, and community as a whole,” he continued. Mentors show up in various capacities— coach, motivator, and advocate—as they facilitate academic progress and establish relationships with parents, promoting family engagement.  

Friends-Seattle’s unique mentorship model includes after-school homework assistance and support, small group activities, and monthly mentor-mentee outings. Young mentees are also provided opportunities to cultivate leadership skills such as confidence, commitment, problem-solving and perseverance. This approach amplifies youth joy through an environment of encouragement and enrichment experiences. “I like spending time with Sam because he teaches me how to believe in myself, play soccer, and not give up when things get hard,” said an elementary school-aged youth who has been mentored by Sam for four years. “We have a lot of fun and hang out a lot.”  

The impact of the extended Youth Leadership and Cultural Education investment is significant for community partners in terms of youth they currently serve, in addition to future communities of Seattle young people and their families. “The funding from DEEL is not only a gift for youth at Friends-Seattle, but it also reinforces the importance of long-term professional mentorship and the impact it creates for generational change across our community.” said Lacie West, executive director of Friends of the Children-Seattle. “I am thrilled for our organization to receive this grant to help us further cultivate the path for our youth to realize their power to pursue their goals.” 

Each of the CBO partners selected for the award will sustain a diverse array of programmatic offerings with opportunities for young people ranging from study abroad and accredited foreign language learning, to summer job readiness workshops, and small group counseling sessions. Program models include project-based learning, healing justice and trauma informed modalities, and individual mentorship, with activities taking place in-school and after-school, during the school year, over summer break, and year-round. 

The full list of Youth Leadership and Cultural Education awardees is shared below: 

The City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning’s mission is to transform the lives of Seattle children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education.