Home STEMPaths Innovation Network: Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Grantee Profile

STEMPaths Innovation Network: 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 STEMPaths Innovation Network, funded as one of the organizations involved in a Place-Based Partnership Grant.


STEMPaths Innovation Network (SPIN) is a member of a Place-Based Partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation at Northgate Elementary School. With a mission of “closing the opportunity gap for girls and students of color in STEM” they provide K-8 out-of-school time and summer enrichment and academic interventions at Title 1 schools and in partnership with community based organizations across King County. Because they know that access to high-quality STEM programming should be available to every student, tuition is not a barrier to participation in their programs.  

SPIN has been partnering with Northgate Elementary and Seattle Parks and Recreation since 2017. The BSK OST investment has allowed SPIN’s programming at Northgate to grow from 1 day a week to 4, and is to provide STEM programming in the summer. They were able to purchase equipment including robots, laptops, and a laptop cart which will all be dedicated to the Northgate site for 3 years, freeing up equipment to be used at other sites. The investment also contributes to hiring SPIN’s 3rd full-time staff person, who is dedicated to the Northgate program as well as their other BSK-funded program, SPIN Girls. This ensures that youth can build relationships with a consistent lead instructor and allows SPIN to develop curricula that is responsive to ongoing youth interests and desire, and that is increasingly culturally relevant. They ask families to define success, and then develop offerings in partnership with Northgate Elementary, SPR, and the kids and families that attend. Ultimately, quadruple the number of students are being served at Northgate with this program expansion.

SOWA’s support, infused with our deep commitment to quality improvement, creates an opportunity for SPIN to engage in broader strategic thinking about evaluation and how they think about success in a program. A lot of the time small nonprofits have their heads down, serving kids and their families, so SPIN is excited to have SOWA’s aid in getting them to lift their heads a bit and think about longer-term program strategy.  

Being in a Place-Based partnership creates a cohesive, robust program with sustained funding—enabling strategic planning for a specific place; a specific group of youth. SPIN always works in partnerships, so this joint funding allows them to work cohesively with SPR as opposed to both organizations independently scrambling for funding. Perpetual competition for funding can pits potential partners against eachother, but the BSK OST investment promotes cooperation. This means exponentially increasing positive impacts on kids.