EXPANDED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES overview

Every day when the school bell rings, thousands of young people participate in out-of-school time programs across Washington state. Whether their focus is on the arts, outdoor recreation or computer literacy, out-of-school programs help young people explore their interests and build positive relationships with peers and adults.  However, kids’ level of engagement and the benefits they derive hinges on the quality of the out-of-school programs.  The Raikes Foundation is working with partners across Washington to create a system of supports that will help all youth organizations provide high-quality programs that maximize their value for young people.

strategy

Research confirms that high-quality youth programs can make a positive difference in young people's academic achievement, social skills and risk reduction.  Yet many programs do not meet the quality bar that leads to successful outcomes and need help to improve.  We are delivering that help.  We are working with program staff, policymakers, funders and parents to elevate the conversation about quality, and we are partnering to ensure organizations get the knowledge, tools and support they need to develop and maintain high-quality programs.

We are following multiple paths to achieve our goals:

 

PROMOTING QUALITY STANDARDS

In 2012, the Raikes Foundation joined a coalition of youth program providers, funders and policymakers to develop Washington’s Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs. Released in 2014, the standards establish a common definition of what “good” looks like. We funded and participated in the effort because we believe these standards will help raise the quality of youth programs by giving organizations specific criteria for measuring their performance, and specific ways to improve. We are actively working to:

  • Promote awareness and adoption of the standards among youth organizations
  • Encourage adoption and support of the standards by public and private funders who invest in youth organizations
  • Build understanding of the standards, and of the importance of quality, among parents who help choose youth programs for their kids

 

HELPING YOUTH PROGRAMS ‘OWN’ Quality

We’ve formed partnerships with like-minded funders in King, Pierce and Spokane Counties to establish regional hubs that deliver training, technical assistance, coaching, and perform quality assessments that help youth organizations boost program quality and meet the statewide quality standards. Instead of a "one-size-fits all" approach, we are also supporting development of multiple pathways to reach the standards so that youth organizations of all types can access the support they need to improve and deliver highly engaging youth programming.   We’re also working with youth programs to:

  • Measure quality improvements against clear standards that make progress visible
  • Accelerate quality improvements by helping youth programs create internal commitment to continuous quality improvement
  • Develop efficient and cost effective quality assessments, making it easy for youth programs to monitor quality objectively. 

 

Boosting DEMAND FOR HIGH-QUALITY PROGRAMS

Quality can be defined, measured and improved.  And, it matters. We’re taking this message across the state and mobilizing a variety of stakeholders to make a lasting commitment to delivering high-quality youth programs. Specifically, we are:

  • Educating parents about what to look for in high-quality programs when they assess out-of-school-time options for their kids
  • Encouraging other public and private funders to use the quality standards and to invest in quality improvement in youth organizations they support
  • Tapping youth organizations that have embraced quality to serve as champions of this work among their peers, funders and policymakers

 

INVESTING IN IMPROVEMENT

The Raikes Foundation and our regional partners have also provided funding for youth organizations to participate in the Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI). The YPQI:

  • Brings cohorts of youth program providers together to learn collaboratively about the components of high-quality
  • Provides technical assistance and professional development for managers and staff, particularly those on the front lines interacting with youth
  • Develops programs’ capacity to assess the quality of their offerings and builds their skills to implement quality practices

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progress

The Raikes Foundation has invested in strengthening the quality of out-of-school programs in Washington since 2009. With the help of our partners, we have changed the conversation about quality, fostered alignment about what quality looks like and empowered youth organizations across our state with the skills and resources to improve quality. Hundreds of staff serving over 75,000 young people have benefited from training, assessments and professional development designed to improve their interactions with young people, and infrastructure is in place to bring tools and techniques for improving quality to many more programs.

 

a growing community of quality champions IS IN PLACE

  • The Raikes Foundation launched the Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI) in 2009, motivated by research showing the positive impacts of high-quality programs on academic performance, social skills and reduced risky behavior.
  • We initially partnered with School’s Out Washington to help King County youth organizations raise the quality of their programs.
  • We looked for others who shared our commitment to high-quality out-of-school programs and we partnered with the Spokane County United Way and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation to bring the YPQI to Spokane and Pierce Counties.
  • We have informed and collaborated with scores of youth programs, educators, private funders and policymakers who have embraced the importance of high-quality programs. Some, such as Seattle Public Schools, have included a commitment to the new quality standards in district plans.

 

hundreds of staff serving thousands of young peoplE HAVE BEEN TRAINED

  • To date, more than 85 organizations serving over 50,000 kids at 299 sites in King, Pierce and Spokane Counties have benefited from the assessments, training, technical assistance and professional development that are part of the YPQI.
  • Complementary quality initiatives led by Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the City of Seattle and United Way of King County reach an estimated 189 additional sites and 25,000 youth each year.
  • Infrastructure is in place so organizations across the state can access professional development, coaching and training to help them assess program quality and target their improvement efforts.

 

a common definition of quality HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED

  • Supported by funding from the Raikes Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation and other organizations, School's Out Washington led a process to develop Washington's first quality standards for out-of-school time programs.  Over several months they gathered input from a broad group of stakeholders, conducted focus groups and cross-walked their ideas against current research.
  • In the spring of 2014, the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool and Youth Development Programs were finalized and shared with the state’s out-of-school time field.

 

awareness and demand for high-quality programS ARE GROWING

  • We helped launch Washington state’s quality standards and supported webinars and community meetings to build awareness.
  • We worked with our partners to develop communications materials about the YPQI and helped launch a regional communications campaign to promote the importance of quality to youth advocates, funders, policymakers and parents in Pierce County.
  • We partnered with ParentMap magazine to produce a nine-month series of articles exploring various components of program quality for parents.
  • We implemented a new awards program in fall 2014 that recognized 14 organizations as “High Fliers” for reaching the highest bar of quality.

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  • Partner spotlight

    Hilltop Scholars

    On Tacoma’s Hilltop, a youth program strives to serve students better

    As warm afternoon light brightens the common room at Jason Lee Middle School, Lily Caldera reflects on the help and support she has received from the Hilltop Scholars program with gratitude and self-awareness beyond her 13 years.

    “It’s really built my self-confidence,” Lily says. Operated by Peace Community Center, Hilltop Scholars combines an intensive summer program with academic coaching during the school year to help students in Tacoma’s diverse Hilltop neighborhood progress through middle school and high school and into college. “I was really nervous coming into middle school – all the drama, meeting new friends.”


    Read More

    Partner spotlight

    Hilltop Scholars

    On Tacoma’s Hilltop, a youth program strives to serve students better

    As warm afternoon light brightens the common room at Jason Lee Middle School, Lily Caldera reflects on the help and support she has received from the Hilltop Scholars program with gratitude and self-awareness beyond her 13 years.

    “It’s really built my self-confidence,” Lily says. Operated by Peace Community Center, Hilltop Scholars combines an intensive summer program with academic coaching during the school year to help students in Tacoma’s diverse Hilltop neighborhood progress through middle school and high school and into college. “I was really nervous coming into middle school – all the drama, meeting new friends.”


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Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.

– Benjamin Franklin

Illustrative Grants

Forum for Youth Investment

To implement a summer learning quality initiative in the Seattle Public Schools and investigate academic gains tied to best practice.

University of Washington

To lead the co-creation of youth development resources for Washington that create a birth-to-18 framework for quality practice. 

School’s Out Washington

To lead the statewide quality initiative, promote use of the state Quality Standards for Afterschool and Youth Development Programs, and provide training, coaching and technical support to organizations aiming to meet the standards.

Youth Development Executives of King County

To build the collective strength, voice and quality of the youth development sector in King County.

United Way of Spokane County

To lead expansion of the quality improvement efforts for out-of-school time programs in Spokane County.

 

Greater Tacoma Community Foundation

To lead expansion of the quality improvement efforts in Pierce County.