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Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Grantee Celebration

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Best Starts for Kids OST

On Tuesday, April 16th, Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Investment grantees gathered at TAF Bethaday Community Learning Space with SOWA coaches and staff along with King County officials to celebrate the incredible first year of this inaugural cohort. After settling into the space and being greeted by Omana Imani, SOWA’s King County Expanded Learning Opportunities Systems Director, Elizabeth Whitford, SOWA’s CEO, and Megan McJennett of King County, grantees were presented back some of the collective impact data from 2018. As documented in this blog post, there were some major wins during the roll-out of this project: for example, BSK OST programs served young people for 23,179 hours—almost 1,000 days!

Then, the anxiously-awaited award presentation began, Omana and our program quality coaches who work with cohort sites presented Place-Based Collaboratives and POC-Led Organizations with plaques commemorating participation in the inaugural BSK OST initiative. Paper plate awards lovingly created by many SOWA staff hands which gave organizations recognition such as East African Community Services’ “Growth Spurt Award” to celebrate that their BSK program doubled in size or Techbridge Girls’ “Girl Power” award to honor their work as the only gender-specific program in the cohort. Lastly, program sites were given posters to put in their space which showed the constellation of BSK OST programs.

Delicious food was served by Chef Mulu of Phresheats, and Totem Star artists Zoser, Lili Indigo and J Blanco, and Kiddus Fecto performed music. We ended the celebration by creating art together—guests worked together to write one line which said what they needed to hear right now, to remind them why they do this meaningful and necessary work. Through a collaborative process, those individual lines became our group poem, which was initially read aloud by youth worker and poet extraordinaire Karim of Living Well Kent and then together as a full group. It was a powerful exercise in centering our positive impact on youth in our communities. The whole day was a great opportunity to bask in the amazing work coming out of this ground-breaking initiative. We can’t wait to see what happens next!


Megan McJennett and Omana Imani kick off the celebration.

Grantees seeing exciting collective data on all of their hard work in Year 1.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families receives the "Polyglot Award" to acknowledge
the vast number of languages spoken by their staff-17 and counting!

We were lucky to snap a picture of this delicious spread before guests happily dove into it!

Zoser reminding us the "Hope and Love" is at the center of what we do.

Karim reading our group poem with perfect spoken-word cadence.

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