School’s Out Washington’s commitment to racial equity has evolved into much more than just a statement. It has become a deliberate effort in the organization’s internal and external practice to work toward our mission of helping all youth reach their full potential through increased access to high-quality afterschool and summer programs.
To this end, SOWA’s Director of Policy and Advocacy David Beard, Chief Program Quality Officer Jackie Jainga-Hyllseth, and MSW Intern Franci Davila recently engaged in a multi-pronged approach to further our racial equity focus by. In recent months, we evaluated the trainings we currently offer to professionals working in afterschool, youth development, and summer programs, and also developed a Racial Equity Policy Screen to analyze and vet policies relevant to the field and their impacts on communities of color.
SOWA collected information from the field to inform our objectives through an online survey sent out to afterschool, youth development and summer providers throughout the state, and a targeted series of focus groups only for providers of color in Spokane, Yakima, Pierce, and King Counties. Key concepts that were addressed in both the focus groups and survey were:
- Barriers and Solutions to Funding;
- Challenges and Solutions to Partnership Building; and
- Challenges and Solutions to acquiring Professional Development.
Findings from the survey and focus groups will inform SOWA as we finalize a Training of the Trainers module on Structural Racism and Cultural Competency & Responsiveness, which we hope to make available later this year, as well as in developing our Racial Equity Policy Screen. We will continue to share the findings with key stakeholders and the field at large as well as how we plan to use the findings moving forward. SOWA’s Board of Directors will also be engaging in developing and implementing a Racial Equity plan.
For more information about our racial equity work and this most recent effort, please contact Franci Davila, MSW Intern at School’s Out Washington, at fdavila [at] schoolsoutwashington.org.