Program Spotlight: Quality in Practice at Tacoma Community Boat Builders
by Danielle Baer |
This program profile of Tacoma Community Boat Builders (TCBB) was originally published in SOWA’s 2016 Annual Report. TCBB is one of 50 programs who participated in the Expanded Learning Opportunities Quality Initiative supported with funding allocated by the Washington State Legislature in the 2016 legislative session.
This past legislative session, we were successful in securing additional funds to continue the initiative over the next year thanks to support from other key partners including The Raikes Foundation, University of Washington Center for Quality in Early Learning, Child Care Aware, Department of Early Learning and Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Learn more about the initiative on The Sparkwind Website.
Tacoma Community Boat Builders (TCBB) is a non-profit community organization in Tacoma that benefits young males between the ages of 13-18 who are referred by the Pierce County Juvenile Court. TCBB is a diversion program serving at-risk youth – often youth in foster care and kids on probation.
The woodshop is a large 4300 square foot space full of tools, woodworking machines and an all-volunteer staff of 15-20 comprised mostly of retired wood craftsmen and master boat builders. The volunteers lend their time to mentor and teach their craft to these often resistant and struggling young men.
With quality principles in practice, TCBB experienced positive shifts:Executive Director, Shannon A. Shea, had little knowledge about boat building prior to joining the team at TCBB. She did bring with her years of experience in education, youth empowerment, and working with vulnerable populations. Soon after starting at TCBB, Shannon heard about SOWA’s Youth Program Quality Initiative, and knew this was something she wanted to get involved with in order to make the programming at TCBB more intentional and supportive for the young men.
- A welcoming environment: youth who previously felt shame now feel accepted.
- Staff alignment with the mission: it’s not about boat-building, it’s about youth empowerment.
- Leveraging staff expertise to lead youth to their own accomplishments that they can own and be proud of.
The Youth Program Quality process has helped TCBB support youth in taking more initiative. As Shannon says, “The pride on their faces after seeing a thing in their head become a reality is worth every month of delay on the boats.”
Engaging in a quality improvement process has given Shannon and her team the tools and language to put into practice an intentionality that ultimately helps the youth connect with the idea of their future, tap into their potential, and align with a sense of purpose. The process strengthened what the program was already doing and provided some actionable steps to better engage youth.
As Shannon sums up, “Training and coaching from School’s Out Washington was instrumental in putting what our team learned about quality programming into practice.”
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