By RayJaun Stelly, The Seattle Medium
The Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) plans to invest $7.2 million in programs for students and youth who have not yet met grade-level standards. This investment aligns with and is funded by the 2018 voter-approved Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy.
The Opportunity and Access grants will benefit 16 community-based organizations, serving approximately 2,000 youth and young adults until 2026. Each organization will receive $450,000 over a three-year period to expand learning, college, and career programs.
The awarded programs and organizations are divided into two tiers. Tier one comprises six small organizations: Adult & Youth Learning Center, Celebrating Roots, Financial Literacy Academy, The Good Foot Arts Collective, Movimento Afrolatino Seattle, and School Connect WA. These organizations have demonstrated their ability to build capacity to deliver quality programming starting this fall or no later than the 2024-2025 school year.
The second tier consists of ten different organizations: ACE Academy, East African Community Service, Empowering Youth & Families Outreach, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, FEEST Seattle, Friends of the Children, Geeking Out Kids of Color, Kandeila’s, South End Stories, and STEM Path Innovation Network. These organizations have shown their capacity to provide quality expanded learning opportunities and college and career readiness programs, either new or already established. Service delivery will commence in the 2023-2024 school year.
“In One Seattle, every child, from every neighborhood, must have access to opportunities for learning, growth, and reaching their full potential. High-quality education and culturally responsive afterschool programming are crucial to closing the opportunity gap and setting all students on a path to success,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.
“DEEL’s Opportunity and Access grants will expand the capacity of community-based organizations that cater to the unique needs of youth in our communities, equipping every student with the critical skills they need to build the future they deserve,” added Harrell.
According to DEEL, studies have indicated that students’ proficiency in subjects like math and English language arts (ELA) is indicative of their future academic and life success.
The Opportunity and Access (O&A) strategy will complement school learning and support academic and non-academic programs that promote knowledge, skills, and abilities for student success at grade level and transition to post-secondary programs.
This strategy enabled DEEL to offer 2023 applicants the choice to apply for either the Capacity Building tier or the Programs tier.
The Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction noted that students at FEPP levy-supported schools showed a 43% proficiency in 3rd to 8th grade math and a 52% proficiency in ELA in spring 2022. These percentages represent a 10-point and three-point increase, respectively, from the fall 2021 assessment scores.
“Opportunity and Access grants pave the way for students to transcend the boundaries of basic education by taking their learning beyond the classroom,” said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of the Department of Educational and Early Learning. “By centering their cultures and aspirations, these programs will inspire skills development that empowers them to define their future and take the lead on their success.”