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$4.9M in Opportunity and Access Investments Announced

This week, Mayor Jenny Durkan and DEEL announced $4.9 million in Opportunity and Access awards to be distributed over the next three years to community-based organizations (CBOs) focused on closing opportunity gaps through expanded learning and college and career readiness.

Community-Based Programs Will Help Close Opportunity Gaps Through Expanded Learning and College and Career Readiness

This week, Mayor Jenny Durkan and DEEL announced $4.9 million in Opportunity and Access awards that will be distributed over the next three years to community-based organizations (CBOs) focused on closing opportunity gaps through expanded learning and college and career readiness. The announcement came as part of a larger press release announcing both School-Based Investments and Opportunity and Access investments that will begin this school year.

Part of the Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise levy passed by voters in 2018, Opportunity and Access funding is a new investment area that allows for multiple service delivery methods to help students develop academic and nonacademic skills that will help them graduate on time and enter postsecondary programs.

DEEL will invest a total of $11.9 million in Opportunity & Access grants through the 2025-2026 school year (SY).  For this initial round of three-year grants, for SY 2020-21 through 2022-23, awards range from $47,908 to $214,096. The 10 community-based organizations that were funded are expected to serve more than 1,400 students furthest from educational justice. Educational disparities predictable by race continue to persist in Seattle, and these investments are part of DEEL’s efforts to close opportunity gaps and eliminate racial disparities in education.

Steve Lewis, Executive Director of Friends of the Children – Seattle, one of the 10 Opportunity and Access grantees, said, “This funding will allow Friends of the Children, a paid professional mentorship program, to support talented youth facing significant challenges—including poverty, early childhood trauma and systemic racism—to graduate high school with a plan for the future. Our mentors work with each child in our program on individual academic goals, supporting them with schoolwork and making sure that each one has the tools to connect to school and stay on target towards grade level.”

In selecting awardees, DEEL prioritized programs supporting middle and high school students in preparing for postsecondary pathways and those who demonstrated strong partnerships between organizations and school communities.  

The community partners selected to receive funding will offer diverse program opportunities—including entrepreneurship, mentoring, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and more. All organizations have plans in place to provide services to youth during the 2020-21 school year consistent with public health guidance and in alignment with Seattle Public Schools remote learning plans.  

Hueiling Chan, Case Management Director at Chinese Information & Service Center (CISC), said, “We are grateful for this funding because it will enable our organization to provide bilingual, culturally relevant after school instruction and learning activities to Chinese immigrant students in grades 1-5 with limited English proficiency. Students will participate in an array of engaging activities to enhance their academic success, including homework guidance and academic tutoring, enrichment activities, bicultural identity development, computer literacy, leadership skills, service learning, and family support services.” CISC received funding for their bilingual afterschool program targeting low-income immigrant and refugee families.

Opportunity and Access Awardees

Following are the 10 organizations being funded and their program details:

Atlantic Street Center, $69,361: Atlantic Street Center (ASC) will provide academic support, mentorship, enrichment activities such as coding and entrepreneurship, and college tours and career days. This year, afterschool academic tutoring and career exploration activities will occur online. ASC will also provide participating students with technology access, toiletries, groceries, and prepared meals. 

Chinese Information & Service Center, $145,197: Chinese Information & Service Center will provide bilingual, culturally relevant afterschool instruction and learning activities to improve academic outcomes for low-income, immigrant students with limited English proficiency in grades K-5. Programming will continue in full, either in-person as social distancing allows, or with a switch to remote programming using strategies put in place during Washington State’s initial “stay-at-home” order. 

Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, $67,547: Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA) will provide college and career readiness services through staff professional development and restorative justice work with students. Conducted in partnerships with 12 Seattle Public School Interagency Academy sites, DNDA will equip teachers with the skills necessary to prepare students for success in post-secondary opportunities by focusing on industry standards. Training will occur through a hybrid model with restorative circles with students being conducted via Zoom. 

Friends of the Children Seattle, $62,923: The Friends of the Children Seattle Teen Program provides intensive, year-round mentoring to middle and high school youth through intentional and sequential college and career readiness programming beginning in sixth grade. Programming includes identifying career interests, industry tours, connections to professionals in the field, mapping out post-secondary pathways in collaboration with families, building resumes and interview skills, and tracking progress towards career goals. Mentors will sustain services through public-health restrictions with programs presented in a virtual format.  

Kandelia, $100,179: Kandeila, formerly known as Vietnamese Friendship Association, hosts a comprehensive Youth Enrichment Program bridging in-school and out-of-school support for refugee and immigrant students in middle and high school in partnership with SPS Seattle World School. Services are integrated into classrooms with students during school hours, and operate independently after school, on Saturdays, and during the summer using staff and volunteers. Kandelia will support youth and families with virtual learning and offer assistance with technology, food, and basic needs. 

Neighborhood House, $46,000: The Neighborhood House (NH) Studio Program provides culturally appropriate, high-quality, year-round afterschool and summer STEM programming for diverse, low-income middle school and high school youth living in and around southwest Seattle’s High Point public housing community. Programming includes project-based learning, University of Washington students who serve as mentors, college readiness, and career exploration. NH will engage families to access technology needs and address other barriers to student learning such as food and family employment

Refugee Women’s Alliance, $214,096: The Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) will provide an afterschool STEM camp for immigrant and refugee elementary students at Maple and Kimball Elementary Schools. Programming will focus on math and science including a science fair, coding computer games, circuits, the science of flight, and structural engineering. Any in-person programming will be limited and apply social distancing and other state guidelines. All other activities will be offered virtually. Supporting program materials will be provided to participants through drop-off or pick-up for at-home use and remote lesson work. 

Northwest Education Access, $105,903: NWEA (formerly Seattle Education Access) will utilize education advocates and mentors to serve pre-college students, creating pathways to re-engage them in higher education through personalized, one-on-one academic advising, counseling, and career exploration services. Education Advocate services will be adapted to socially distanced and/or remote environments.

STEM Paths Innovation Network, $60,576: SPIN Girls is a transformative program that builds youth leadership and provides immersive STEM experiences, paired with mentorship for girls of color in grades 8-10 with female STEM professionals of color. Program participants progress through the 3-year model as learners, mentors, and leaders. Each fall, SPIN will induct eighth-grade girls as STEM Learners. In participants’ second year, they become STEM Mentors, and bring STEM back to their schools to help recruit, plan and mentor the next cohort of program participants. In their third year, as STEM Leaders, the girls help lead the program alongside their adult mentors. SPIN Girls will operate virtually as they have since the pandemic began. 

Technology Access Foundation, $217,281: TAF will provide expanded learning and college and career readiness opportunities for students at Washington Middle School as part of their TAF@WMS partnership. Expanded learning offerings include a Makerspace for robotics and engineering and the Junior Husky Summer Academy rooted in project-based learning. The TAF@WMS College and Career Readiness Program will provide workshops, college campus visits, college and career fairs, technical trades roadmap, career connected learning, and mentorships with STEM professionals. This year, TAF will focus on social-emotional health, deliver remote professional development, and offer student programs virtually.

Annual contract reauthorization for the 10 grantees is conditioned upon achievement of contract outcomes. Opportunity and Access funds will be rebid in 2023 for investment in school years 2023-24 through 2025-26.

The 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.