East African Community Services: 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 East African Community Services, funded as part of a People of Color-Led Organization grant.
EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY SERVICES
East African Community Services (EACS) works “to provide culturally responsive K-12 Education programs that keep youth safe and help them succeed in school and life.” They offer after-school education and enrichment programs for kids in Seattle’s NewHolly housing community, including reading, math, leadership, and survival skills. EACS also facilitates Harambee events (which is an East African tradition and value of mutual community support, meaning “all together” in Swahili), cultural dances, and field trips including snowshoeing and ziplining-- which are particularly meaningful experiences for low-income youth who otherwise wouldn’t have access to those activities. Parent engagement opportunities and mentorship programs which pair high school students with mentors in the community ensure that intergenerational relationships are built with EACS’ help.
Being a small grassroots nonprofit, EACS has often had to stretch resources in order to accommodate needs. With the BSK OST investment, they’re now able to expand their organizational assets, such as buying a projector and a laptop for their program. They’re also able to expand their field trip offerings, and bring in additional partners to provide new enrichment programs. For example, they recently partnered with a group that ran a Writing Through Photography program which engaged youth in technology that they were excited about to promote literacy skills.
This funding has provided an opportunity for EACS staff to be more supportive of their youth. They’ve hired additional staff for their middle school program which allows teachers to form one-on-one relationships with kids and be highly attuned to their individual needs. EACS is also eager to expand their programming to include health and wellness classes like yoga, zumba, and kickboxing for Fit Fridays, and a monthly Family Institute meeting for parents.
Working with SOWA allows EACS to have access to the YPQI process rather than simply reporting metrics to a funder-- there’s intentional programmatic support build into the structure of this grant. Our cohort conveneings allow for networking, and also for personal connections to form amongst peers in the field. Additionally, because so many SOWA staff come from a background of youth program work, EACS trusts our perspective as funders and has experienced us as responsive and hands-on.
Being funded through the POC-Led model, EACS is excited to work alongside other organizations who share the perspective and experience of being a grassroots organization. Many funders don’t understand the unique challenges and strengths of programs reflective of the communities they serve. This funding acknowledges organizations like EACS and validates that they exist, and that their work is crucial to the youth development field, and to the youth of Seattle.