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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Creating opportunities for young people who face systemic barriers to success

Summary

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.

Story

A smiling girl looking at the back of a digital camera.

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.

Creative_Justice_3

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.

Summary of King County Partnerships

Show more Organization Ages served Race/Ethnicity Focus Location Funding Description
4Culture/Creative Justice 12 to 24 Black/African American, Latinx, Native Hawaian and Other Pacific Islander, Indigenous
Countywide $399,618 Creative Justice staff, mentor artists, and community allies build relationships with youth who are currently directly involved in the King County juvenile justice system. The majority of the youth-adult partnerships are with youth who are black and brown, low-income, and struggling in school with chronic absenteeism and academic achievement. Participants attend two-hour classes twice weekly for four months at Washington Hall; engaging through a culturally responsive curriculum providing space for them/us to create art, discuss important social issues, and develop a culminating project or presentation.
Black Star Line African Family Educational Collective 12 to 24 Black/African American
North King County, South King County, Southeast Seattle $400,000 Black Star Line envisions children of African descent who are self-actualized creators that are to be accountable to shape the world to benefit humanity. Their mission is to create and support institutions, community programming, and activities that value and support African-centered and character-based teaching that leads to our vision. Black Star Line will provide direct services to youth ages 12 to 24 as part of a family system which includes their parents, guardians, or caregivers and siblings to develop salient African cultural identity. This will include Training of Trainers to implement rites of passage programs to facilitate social-emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and cultural stewardship. Their base of operation will be located in the city of Seattle at their school but will include the Greater King County area in order to service the larger family collective. Their frequency includes daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly events.
Cham Refugees Community 12 to 24 Asian, Black/African American
South King County and Rainier Valley in Seattle $400,000 Cham Refugees Community's mission is to reduce the systemic barriers faced by immigrants and refugees in Seattle and South King County through culturally and linguistically appropriate services such as comprehensive case management, immigration, resource navigation, youth education or development and senior services that involve the whole community. Their partnership’s vision is to work together to build successful lives for Cham, Congolese, Somali, and other youths through integration and acculturation which leads to employment and life success. By involving key members within an ethnic community, the partner agencies will carry out direct service delivery to families with youth at imminent risk of academic and career breakdown through a holistic approach. Refugee and immigrant youth within the Cham, Congolese, and Somali communities in the Rainier Valley and South King County will be offered services where it's most convenient, whether it is inside their homes, the school, community center, church, mosques, or local offices with the ability to be flexible as to how often contacts are made with the youth and their families.
Community Network Council 12 to 17 Black/African American
South King County $303,666 Community Network Council's mission is to support youth and families in Kent, bringing together community organizations, businesses, schools and volunteers who work cooperatively to provide academic intervention, support and advocacy to youth and their families. CNC connects with partners to collaborate, build community support mechanisms, and act as proponents for youth and families and address complex entrenched social and health issues. CNC’s Critical Connections for Black Youth will instill a new internal message and belief in our Black youth: their future holds great potential. They will do this by offering critical supports and connections for Black youth ages 12 to 18 in the Kent School District who are struggling academically and socially. Black Academic Coaches will meet with students one-on-one twice a week and at facilitated group meetings twice a month focused on academic achievement, cultural identity development, increasing positive school and community connections, and engaging parents to support student achievement.
Community Passageways 12 to 24 Black/African American, Latinx, Native Hawaian and Other Pacific Islander
South King County and Seattle (South Seattle, Central District, West Seattle) $397,994 Community Passageways’ aim is to keep youth out of the criminal justice system, to support their educational and professional pursuits, and to empower a generation of powerful, positive leaders. They believe that when given hope, opportunity, a chance to heal, and the acceptance and support of their community, every one of our youth can become that powerful, positive leader.  In collaboration with the University of Washington, Community Passageway’s community-based mentors will deliver culturally relevant, evidence-based interventions to youth who may become involved, have been involved, or are currently involved with the juvenile justice system. Over the course of 18 months, 45 youth and their families based in South King County will receive weekly support in community and home settings for up to six months each.
Good Shepherd Youth Outreach 12 to 24 Asian, Black/African American, Latinx, Native Hawaian and Other Pacific Islander South King County and Seattle (Southeast Seattle) $ 369, 599 Good Shepherd Youth Outhreach will conduct in-school and community-wide outreach, and provide case management services primarily for African American youth. They will serve youth in Seattle, Tukwila, and Federal Way Schools and communities. They will implement their Standing Tall Mentorship Program (STMP) which brings life changing opportunities to promising, disadvantaged youth by providing inspirational messages of hope, offering effective mentoring, educational resources, supporting families, and building community partnerships. STMP also promotes positive cultural identity development through their curriculum.
Living Well Kent collaborative 12 to 24 Black/African American
South King County $312,269 Living Well Kent's School to Success project seeks to partner with the three high schools in the Kent School District – Kent Meridian, Kentwood, and Kentlake – to directly support 30 East African immigrant/refugee high school students and their families who are vulnerable to not graduating on-time. School to Success project participants might be involved in the justice system, have significant language barriers, be pregnant, or be otherwise at-risk of entering the school to prison pipeline. These students and their families will work intensively with a Student Support Worker and a Family Advocate.
Na'ah Illahee Fund 12 to 17 Latinx, Native Hawaian and Other Pacific Islander, Indigenous
Countywide $392,588 Na'ah Illahee's mission is to support and promote the leadership of Indigenous women and girls in the ongoing regeneration of Indigenous communities. They seek transformative change at the community level by supporting Indigenous women’s traditional models of leadership and organizing. Their vision is a strong network of leaders with the skills, knowledge, commitment and resources to affect positive social change, address the violence against women, children and earth, and build strong citizens. One of the most critical areas of community empowerment is bringing tools of empowerment to Indigenous youth so they can create healthy pathways into the future that blend traditional Indigenous knowledge and values with modern technologies and other relevant western knowledge. The Indigenous Youth and Community Connections program will create an operating framework for a network of King County-wide Indigenous community practitioners trained in innovative, indigenous-based prevention and early intervention strategies. This two-tiered program will provide a nurturing prevention environment for Indigenous youth to explore and develop positive self-identity and ways to successfully navigate institutions such as schools; and an early intervention strategy that utilizes Restorative Justice practices to directly address issues in order to build a school to success pathway.
POCAAN 12 to 24 Black/African American, Latinx, Native Hawaian and Other Pacific Islander
South King County $400,000 The Education & Service Through Our Restorative Examples (RESTORE) program is an 18-month, multi-tiered approach that borrows from the Washington state-approved best practices of Restorative Justice trainings and practice utilization, Behavioral Health services, and Multi-Tiered Support System school-based approach to intervene in the lives of students of color, primarily Black and Latinx youth, attending four targeted schools, two middle schools and two high schools in the Renton and Tukwila school districts in grades 7 through 10.
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle 12 to 24 Asian, Black/African American, Latinx, Native Hawaian and Other Pacific Islander
North King County, East King County, South King County, Seattle (Central District, Rainier Valley, West Seattle) $400,000 The Urban League's mission is to empower African Americans and under-served communities to thrive by securing educational and economic opportunities. The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle will provide mentorship, life skills, and empowerment to young African Americans, and young people from other under-served communities. Through strategic outreach and connection, the Peer Connectors will connect with young people and empower them with the tools they need to stay on a path of success or help them create a path to success. In addition, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle will host six Credible Messenger cohorts to young people as a diversion mechanism to help them understand their worth and value to the world.

Relevant links


Quotes

We are creating strong partnerships that will remove systemic barriers to success for the next generation of leaders in our region. Together, we will provide the opportunities, resources, and guidance young people need to achieve their goals.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Support from Best Starts for Kids will allow us to deepen our work with the young people most directly impacted by the school to prison pipeline. Instead of removing youth from the community through incarceration, Creative Justice rallies around them with supportive mentors who help them identify and highlight their power and potential. Together we can redefine what justice is and what it can be.

Aaron Counts, Lead Engagement Artist, Creative Justice

Partnering with Best Starts for Kids enables Community Passageways to provide more training opportunities to better serve the youth and families in our community. This funding puts us in a better position to pull our youth and young adults out of the school-to-prison pipeline and empower a generation of powerful, positive leaders.

Dominique Davis, CEO and Co-Founder, Community Passageways

The synergistic impact from the Best Starts for Kids partnership will enable Good Shepherd Youth Outreach to remain engaged and connected to the community we serve, create a diverse resource network to support youth in South King County, and maintain an authentic, relevant and engaging program for youth and families.

Louis Guiden Jr., Community Intervention Manager, Good Shepherd Youth Outreach

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography