King County will partner with 10 community-based organizations to provide education, job training, mentoring, and other crucial resources and opportunities to young people who face systemic barriers to pursuing their goals.
Photo credit: Creative Justice/Tim Aguero
King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced the latest Best Starts for Kids initiative, one that will create opportunities and provide resources to youth and young adults who face systemic barriers to pursuing their educational, career, and life goals.
King County will partner with 10 community-based organizations that reflect the communities, cultural backgrounds, and lived experiences of the youth they serve. The partnerships increase community-based supports to link youth and young adults to education, job training, mentoring, and other crucial resources and opportunities, focusing on culturally relevant programs that connect youth to their communities and build a strong sense of self.
"We are creating strong partnerships that will remove systemic barriers to success for the next generation of leaders in our region,” said Executive Constantine. “Together, we will provide the opportunities, resources, and guidance young people need to achieve their goals."
Ten partner organizations successfully competed for $4 million in Best Starts for Kids funding to provide relationships, guidance, and resources to young people ages 12 to 24 who face systemic inequities and barriers to accessing opportunities and pursuing their goals. A panel that included parents, community members, youth and young adults helped evaluate and select partners to ensure the organizations’ program proposals reflect and honor the cultural backgrounds and life experiences of those most impacted.
Photo credit: Creative Justice/Tim Aguero
Removing barriers to success
The partnerships are part of Best Starts for Kids' work to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline. Partners will play a key role in addressing the circumstances and systemic inequities that create barriers to success for young people, primarily youth of color. These life experiences include inadequate career opportunities and disproportionate school disciplinary measures, and other systemic inequities in the justice system, schools, and communities that prevent youth and young adults from achieving their full potential.
The programs focus on creating a support system that provides youth and young adults with the resources, relationships, and guidance they need to pursue their goals with the support of their communities.
By focusing on engaging and culturally relevant programs, the initiative will not only provide opportunities and resources, but also support youth and young adults in healing from trauma and feeling supported within their communities. Example program services include:
- Good Shepherd Youth Outreach will expand their Standing Tall Mentorship Program, which will bring mentoring, educational resources, family support, and opportunities to young people in Seattle, Tukwila, and Federal Way.
- Community Passageway’s community-based mentors will deliver culturally relevant programming for young people who have been involved or may become involved in the juvenile justice system. Community Passageways will collaborate with the University of Washington to provide weekly support to young people and their families in their communities and in their homes.
- Creative Justice will expand their program to build relationships between community allies, mentor artists, and youth who are directly involved in the juvenile justice system. Creative Justice will provide twice-weekly classes and other public art projects to build leadership skills, amplify youth voices, and articulate the values that define us as individuals and as a community.
Funds range between $300,000 and $400,000 to support programming for 18 months. King County's Department of Community and Human Services will work closely with partners to measure the performance of each program to ensure they achieve the desired outcome.
About Best Starts for Kids
Voters in 2015 approved a six-year levy proposed by Executive Constantine to fund Best Starts for Kids, an initiative to help put every baby born and every child raised in King County on a path toward lifelong success.
It will invest nearly $400 million in promotion, prevention, and early intervention strategies that promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families and communities. It is considered the most comprehensive approach to child development in the United States, starting with prenatal support, sustaining the gain through teenage years, and investing in safe, healthy communities that reinforce progress.
The first initiative prevented more than 3,000 people in King County from becoming homeless in its first year. Best Starts for Kids is also bringing effective programs – such as the Parent-Children Home Program – to scale and opening school-based health centers where students can meet with medical-, dental-, and mental-health providers at no cost.