Home Arts Corps: Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Grantee Profile

Arts Corps: Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Grantee Profile

SOWA is excited to work with the many amazing organizations funded through the King County Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time (BSK OST) investment! These organizations, funded either as stand alone People of Color-Led organizations or Place-Based Partnerships, are all working hard to maximize their positive impact on King County youth. 

Learn more about Arts Corps, funded as part of a Place-Based Partnership and People of Color-Led Organization grant. 


Arts Corps is a member of a Place-Based Partnership in White Center, Burien and SeaTac with Southwest Youth and Family Services (SWYFS) and Geeking Out Kids of Color (GOKiC), serving the Arbor Heights, Woodridge Park, and Windsor Heights housing communities. They are also funded through the POC-Led model for their work in Mount View and Hazel Valley Elementary Schools. Arts Corps “revolutionizes arts education by igniting the creative power of young people through culturally engaging learning experiences.” They have served young people in out-of-school time for many years and have been involved in YPQ work since its inception in Washington State, initially participating in a pilot program. SEL practices are a new learning curve which offers additional Methods trainings and rich, exciting skill-building.

Funding has been challenging as the sites they partner with often had their budgets cut, or could not hold programming for the full year which is unsustainable for teaching artists. With the BSK OST investment, there is now dependable funding and thus the ability to deepen the impacts of quality programs. It’s beneficial to improve systems and strengthen partnerships through program assessments and coaching intervention.

Young people will now have opportunities to express themselves through the arts in a consistent way—teaching artists and entire arts programs won’t be evaporating after 6 months. This enables deep relationship building, fostering the courage for youth to speak their minds in a safe container. For teaching artists, the solidity of their job means that they’re not concerned about whether or not they’ll have a job next year and can instead devote themselves entirely to serving young people. This allows them to embed themselves in the community they serve and everyone works together in a safe and fun way, so everyone wins! Program coordinators and managers can zoom in and support the growth of a given offering without the concern of having to constantly build something and then move it elsewhere.  

SOWA’s ability to provide technical support that helps keeps programs running is very valuable for Arts Corps. The opportunities to receive trainings with other youth development workers and then share lessons learned and strategies used is important, making sure that the entire field is working together for high quality programs. Providing financial support for programs and partnerships allows organizations already doing good work to strengthen and sustain.

Being a part of both the Place-Based and POC-Led funding models, Arts Corps is in a unique position to comment on benefits of each strategy. The Place-Based Partnerships promote collaboration within under-resourced communities and allows Arts Corps to partner with service providers in housing communities. This enables robust arts programming to reach youth who often have access to that resource. Arts Corps’ solid partnership with SWYFS and GOKiC makes them eager to bring more collaboration to sites that will allow them to provide more youth access to the arts.  

The POC-Led funding model is a  much-needed strategy that Arts Corps has wanted to see for a long time. Often, organizations employ front-line service providers of color and have white leadership. It is absolutely important to have People of Color present with youth that look like them, and is also crucial to have People of Color in leadership in order to make decisions and executive connections. Receiving funding specifically as a POC-Led organization validates Arts Corps’ commitment to (the arts as a vehicle of) racial justice.