Is there a boy crisis in America?

An exciting film screening opportunity is coming to the Seattle area on March 8th & 9th as part of the Women’s Funding Alliance’s ACTION Cinema. The Mask You Live In by the Representation Project explores how our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men, and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.

This film speaks to what we can do as parents, educators, youth workers and members of society fostering positive opportunities for all young people.

The Mask You Live In

Is there a “boy crisis” in America? Is our male population suffering due to our culture’s emphasis on power, dominance, and aggression? The film examines how boys are influenced by parenting, our education system, sports culture, and mass media – especially violent video games and pornography — and how gender stereotypes are interconnected with race, class, and circumstance. Of particular importance to the film is unveiling the long-term, negative impact of “American masculinity” on the mental and emotional well-being of male youth. 


Sunday March 8th at 2:00 PM

Seattle Public Library, Microsoft Auditorium

Monday March 9th at 6:00 PM

Kirkland Performance Center

Tickets can be purchased from the Women’s Funding Alliance, $10 per individual ticket. 

Member of greater SOWA community lauded as a “Youth of the Year”

Lucresha Taylor Jr. was awarded the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County – Southwest Club “Youth Of the Year” award.

Lucresha Taylor Southwest Club Youth of the Year

Lucresha Taylor
Southwest Club Youth of the Year

You may remember Lucresha when she stood in front of us at the Impact Youth Breakfast in November and shared her story about how being in the Boys and Girls Club profoundly affected her life.

Yesterday, she stood in front of another room of 300+ people and shared her vision for youth in America, which includes detaching from the digital world to increase focus & success in academics. Additionally, Lucresha has been accepted at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina – though she has a few more applications out there, and hasn’t decided which community she will change next, yet.

The Southwest Club is now one year into the Youth Program Quality Initiative and has taken active leadership in connecting young people to education, counseling, recreation, and a wide range of other supports in the South King County. School’s Out Washington is proud to work with the Southwest club (as well as all of the other Boys & Girls Clubs in King County) to improve the quality of interactions available for young people, and we are particularly proud of all of this year’s honorees for Youth of The Year. Please join us in congratulating Lucresha and the other honorees, their families, and support teams at the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County!

You can learn more about Lucresha and all of the other Youth of the Year here.

STEM Announcements for February

So much is happening is the world of STEM. Not only is Pi Day a month away, but Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is coming on Feb 27. There’s also funding and training available for STEM programs.

Pi Day – How are you celebrating?

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. This year’s Pi Day is particularly special because the date will be 3/14/15. Celebrate at 9:26 for bonus points! Traditional celebrations include fun math games with circles, eating all kinds of pies (including pizza pie), and Einstein lookalike contests (Einstein’s birthday happens to be March 14th).

If you’d like to connect math and fitness (and really, who wouldn’t?), Piraeus Consulting in Seattle is sponsoring a Pi Day fun run, or you can join a virtual Pi Day 5K at Pi Day is a great opportunity to share the fun of math with children and youth. We’re not due for another Pi Day of quite this magnitude for another hundred years.

If you have a celebration planned, we would love to hear about it / see photos! Send those, or any questions about the day to Krista at


Free training for providers who want to teach youth to code, but don’t have the experience

The Youth Apps Challenge is an exciting competition for middle and high school students across Washington, offering them a chance to design and build apps for tablets and smartphones! Teams of up to five students are eligible to participate, with prizes that include tablets, visits to local technology companies, and more. Training is Seattle Feb 13 by The Youth Apps Challenge. Learn to teach your students how to code apps, even if you yourself have no prior experience. To sign up or for more information, contact Drew Atkins at or 206-389-7320


Sign the petition to end the global gender technology gap

The National Girls Collaborative Project is collaborating with UN Women joining a global campaign to demand equal access to and control of technology for women and girls worldwide. Women and girls have the ability and ingenuity to ignite change – but may be limited unless they are equal players in science and technology. Women around the globe are too often excluded from the global technology revolution. The result: more inequality, less innovation, and solutions that leave women out. Sign the petition to end the global gender technology gap today to make sure women and girls are at the center of the science and technology revolution.


Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Nationwide; February 26, 2015

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day serves as a call to action to focus on getting more girls into the engineering and technology fields. Find events near you, learn how to start an event, and explore resources to encourage girls in engineering.


Save the Date: Engage Youth in STEM with SciGirls! A PNWGCP Professional Development Forum

April 25, 2015, Seattle, WA

Save the date and join us at the Museum of Flight on Saturday, April 25, 2015 for a full-day professional development forum hosted by the Pacific Northwest Girls Collaborative Project focused on integrating inquiry-based STEM instruction with a commitment to gender equity.

Participants will learn the latest research for exciting and engaging girls (and boys) in STEM; experience hands-on STEM activities; and gain access to free materials for hands-on, video-enhanced activities that put a creative twist on teaching STEM. Registration information coming soon.


Electric Airplane Capstone Challenge

April 25, 2015, Seattle, WA

At this event students will learn, collaborate, and compete in a challenge to design, build, and fly an electric, tethered airplane that will carry the most cargo. The event will also include STEM mentors, a keynote speaker, and an awards ceremony.

Learn More


Washington State Opportunity Scholarship

The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship supports low- and middle-income students pursuing eligible high-demand majors in science, technology, engineering, math or health care and encourages recipients to work in Washington State once they complete their degrees. The application period is from January 5, 2015 to March 2, 2015. Learn More.

Learn More


Show Us Your STEM

It’s your turn to shine. Change the Equation is looking for stories, video, photos, etc. that answer the question “What does STEM literacy mean to you?” Collected content will be used to show how important STEM literacy is to all of us.

Learn More

King County Learning Community Gathering Sets Exciting Precedent

By James Lovell, SOWA Quality Initiatives Program Manager

On Wednesday, January 14th, School’s Out Washington hosted an exciting “first-of-its-kind” event: A King County Quality Learning Community Meeting. Peer & Professional Learning Communities have been the bedrock of SOWA’s method of professional development for years. Typically, these meetings constitute 8-12 sites that are working on a project with the same timeline. Some groups have the opportunity to meet past cohorts to share best practices over the years, but often times shifts in funding and program timelines makes it difficult to all meet. On the 14th, however, the field turned out in full force!

More than 115 folks attended the Learning Community Meeting on Wednesday the 14th. The common thread for everyone was participation in the content-neutral Youth or School Age Program Quality Initiative over the last 5 years. The goal? To be less content neutral. The focus of the meeting was for folks to combine with self-determined and self-selected colleagues in different areas, including STEM, Arts, Civic Engagement, Health & Treatment, and many more areas. These groups of 10-15 began with questions about challenges to each program area – “What are you most challenged by as a ______ program?” and the discussion then took a deeper look at the different content areas and what sustainability as a field looks like for each one.

We were joined by several first-time staff (from volunteers to program leads to Executive Directors), who brought a fresh perspective to the Quality work and Peer Learning Community. We also enjoyed a host of seasoned veterans who helped drive conversations down fun and authentic paths to develop common mission. The meeting, held at St. Mark’s Bloedel Hall, was an exciting meeting to attend and host, and will remain an inspiration to SOWA staff to continue to connect the field across and within content areas toward our shared goal – better outcomes for more young people in King County and Washington State.

Check-out this video which more than words can, shows the energy, conversation, connection and learning happening at this event.

For more information about the Youth Program Quality Initiative, visit School’s Out Washington’s website.

Launching New Opportunities for Latina Students from Walla Walla

By Rudi Bertschi, Program Supervisor, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction


Brent Cummings, Director of Forward Space Project part of Walla Walla SD, along with program participants joined by Superintendent Dorn and Representatives Kagi, Walsh & Moscoso.

Yesterday, OSPI’s 21st Century Community Learning Center grantee, Walla Walla School District, launched its eighth weather balloon in two years. This one soared from the Capitol grounds here in Olympia in the presence of Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Representative Maureen Walsh (16th District), Representative Ruth Kagi (32nd District), Representative Moscoso (1st District) and several other legislative staff and aides. 21CCLC Project director Brent Cummings and his staff, along with 12 high school sophomores (they first did this as middle school students) – all Latinas – executed the launch from between the Legislative Build and the Temple of Justice.

Weather Balloon Lauch - Governor.Walsh.Kagi.ForwardSpaceProject

Governor Inslee joins Reps Kagi and Walsh after the balloon launched.

Our out-of-school-time partner, School’s Out Washington, produced yesterday’s showcase event to tout the importance of out-of-school-time learning. Superentendent Randy Dorn, Senator Andy Billig (3rd District), Marcie Maxwell – Senior Education Policy Advisor at the Governor’s office, plus the legislators included above, legislative staff representing several other legislators across the state, and various other supporters were on hand to greet the students in the Cherberg Senate Office Building. The balloon launch itself took place just outside Governor Inslee’s office window – and sure enough, he couldn’t resist coming outside for a closer look at what was going on and to talk with the students.

Governor Inslee told us that each day he recognizes the most inspiring person he meets, and today he announced that person is Brent Cummings, our 21CCLC project director. Then, on the spot, the Governor removed his lapel pin and pinned it on Brent (certificate to follow)! Wow! Just Wow! Walla Walla has made us proud again and made a strong case for 21CCLC and great out-of-school-time learning.


Soaring Past the Capitol Building


Here’s hoping for a Seahawks Victory!

After the launch, our girls went to the Senate gallery where they were recognized from the floor. Senator Mike Hewitt offered a resolution commending the students for their work and achievement, whereupon Lieutenant Governor Brad Owens and the entire Senate rose to applaud the students. Needless to say, these young women are walking on a cloud and will likely remember this day forever.


Weather Balloon Taking Off!

By the way, nary a student asked, “When will we need this in real life?” Experiential education is real life. We can all be grateful to be part of a program that gives us leverage to do so much good.

Learn more about the benefits of Expanded Learning Opportunities in School’s Out Washington’s latest brief

Legislative Session Big for Education and Could Be Big for Expanded Learning

The 2015 Legislative Session began on January 12th and will be one for the record books. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled the state was not adequately investing in education which means that the legislature is compelled to put more funding in K-12. There are a number of options being considered, including Afterschool, Summer and Expanded Learning Opportunities and your voice is needed.

To make sure that Expanded Learning is a focus for legislators this session, we have two main priorities that Schools Out Washington, along with our partners in the Expanded Learning Coalition, will be working on this session:

Increasing Expanded Learning for Youth in Communities of Color, Under-served and Rural Areas

Working with our partners, we developed a revamp of the Washington Community Learning Center program which has been dormant and unfunded since 2009. Children in communities of color and rural areas can be served by a variety of quality Expanded Learning programs, both large and small. In order to serve more children in these priority areas, SOWA and our partners are championing efforts to refocus the Washington Community Learning Center program to provide additional resources for both large and small Afterschool and Summer programs in communities of color and underserved areas including rural parts of the state.

Improving Academic Achievement through Afterschool and Summer Programs

The Learning Assistance Program (LAP) was created to target schools and districts that have a large number of students failing to achieve academic success. There is a list of approved uses for these dollars including Expanded Learning. Unfortunately, most schools and districts are not working with their out-of-school time providers, or other community-based organizations, in deciding how best to utilize these public dollars to improve academic outcomes. SOWA and our partners will champion legislation that creates a new planning opportunity that fosters a partnership with school districts and community-based organizations in increasing student success.

We’ll be calling on you to help get the Expanded Learning message to legislators. You can learn more about Our 2015 Legislative Agenda here.

In the meantime, WE NEED YOUR HELP! We need you to sign this petition expressing your support of Afterschool, Summer, and Expanded Learning Opportunities. We hope to deliver this to the Governor and Legislators showing them the depth of support for Expanded Learning.

Please sign this petition and pass it on to friends and family. Every name on here makes a huge difference!

Welcome New SOWA Coach and Trainer Kristin Shiplet

kristin shipletCongratulations to Kristin Shiplet, School’s Out Washington’s newest Coach & Trainer and the 500th person to be trained in the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality’s Methods workshops.  Kristin coaches Pierce County programs going through the Youth Program Quality Initiative. She has spent the past six years of her career in the Tacoma area creating and implementing impactful youth programming.

Kristin is dedicated to creating equal opportunities for all youth to receive high-quality afterschool programming and believes the Youth Program Quality Initiative directly impacts youth serving organizations to enhance their programming. As a reliable external assessor, Kristin has had experience observing high quality programming throughout Pierce and Kitsap counties. Additionally, Kristin works at the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound where she oversees program implementation among 15 different Club locations.  Kristin explains in her own words why quality matters to her and in supporting the field:

“As a youth-serving professional in Pierce and Kitsap counties, I am passionate about creating opportunities for all youth to engage with programs that allow them to grow as leaders, become caring and responsible citizens, and the chance to succeed academically. As a YPQ trainer, I enjoy sharing this passion with other youth program staff by working together to enhance the already-existing opportunities for youth by applying the principals of the YPQ process.”

New Organization for Family Engagement Launched

There’s a new name in the world of family engagement in Washington. The Washington Family and Community Engagement Trust opened its doors this past July to unite schools, families and communities for children and youth’s academic achievement and well-being.

The Trust was founded by Adie Simmons, the founding director of the Governor’s Office of the Education Ombuds. After 25 years working with families and schools across Washington, Mrs. Simmons believes that when families, educators, and other significant adults in the lives of students view each other as equal partners, caring communities can be formed to ensure better outcomes for all students. The Trust was created from this perspective.

“With growing numbers of professionals across Washington working on school-community-family partnerships, and families looking to participate in the public education system, the need for an organization they could call home was critical,” says Mrs. Simmons.

Family-focused Program Planning Best Practices recommended by the WA Family and Community Engagement Trust

  • Develop programs that build parent-teacher-student relationships and focus on children’s learning and well-being.
  • Involve diverse families in program design. Ask for their thoughts and opinions and integrate their input into your plans.
  • To ensure parent program participation: assess and then tap into their interests from the get go.
  • Be an agent of parental self-growth. Always include a piece of parental news, information and knowledge in every program.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask parents to help tackle big problems or barriers –that’s what partnerships are all about.

The Trust utilizes the recently released U.S. Department of Education’s Dual-capacity Building Framework as the basis for teaching educators and other professionals how to engage with families, and families how to engage in education.

In addition, the Trust works to educate the public, elected officials, and decision-makers about the power of parental engagement in public education and in diverse communities. “Parent training is booming nationally and locally because it correlates with increased student learning. We are working on two leadership models: ParentNet, a program that trains parents to facilitate grade-level school meetings for other parents, and the Parent Leadership Training Institute, a high-level, civic engagement training program for parents” says Mrs. Simmons.

The Trust has attracted a great number of followers since its inception just six months ago. Nearly 3,000 individuals have joined its network to receive monthly news and information and hundreds of others follow them on Twitter (@FamEng) and Facebook (WA Family Engagement Trust). “We are a partnership-oriented organization always looking to develop collaborative projects and to be of service to others,” adds Mrs. Simmons.

Methods Series Workshops Announced for Winter and Spring

The Youth Work Methods series is a series of ten workshops designed by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality to empower direct-staff with tools that will increase the quality of their work with youth. School’s Out offers these workshops every fall and winter/spring, and we’re proud to finally announce our winter/spring schedule!

You can see the dates and times on a convenient calendar here along with our other workshop offerings.

Active Learning

Do you know the difference between active learning and “hands-on” learning? Giving youth materials is just the beginning. This interactive workshop introduces the “ingredients” of active learning, explains the role that active learning plays in the experiential learning cycle, and helps participants create more powerful learning opportunities for youth.

Coming to Seattle January 23 and Gig Harbor March 17

Ask Listen Encourage

Do you communicate with youth in a way that makes them feel supported and heard? This interactive workshop introduces various communication techniques that help you build more supportive, youth-centered relationships. Participants will learn how to ask more effective questions, to listen actively to youth, and offer youth encouragement rather than praise.

Coming to South Hill, Pierce County, February 19 and Seattle March 20

Building Community

Do you know what it takes to build an emotionally and physically safe space for youth? Building an emotionally safe community of peers and adults is essential for youth to learn and develop as individuals. This interactive workshop will introduce participants to a variety of activities designed to support the community building process.

Coming to Seattle April 23 and Tacoma May 14

Cooperative Learning

Do the youth in your program have opportunities to work together in groups, teaching and learning from each other? Cooperative learning is an excellent way to nurture youth leadership, build community, and keep things fun. This interactive workshop will equip participants with grouping strategies and ways to think about building cooperative learning into any program offering.

Coming to Seattle, February 20

Planning and Reflection

Are you engaging youth in the critical life skills of planning and reflection? Are you ready to be more intentional about including planning and reflection strategies into your daily routine and activities but not sure where to start? This workshop will introduce participants to powerful methods that promote youth engagement in planning, implementing, and evaluating activities and projects.

Coming to Seattle May 28

Youth Voice

Are you providing young people with authentic, meaningful choices throughout your program? Does your program reflect the input of youth involved? Research shows that quality programs incorporate youth input at both activity and organizational levels. This workshop is focused on providing meaningful choice within activities and opportunities for youth input within the youth program itself.

Coming to Seattle June 4

State Expanded Learning Opportunities Council Releases First Report and Adopts Standards

Last legislative session, School’s Out and our partners in the Expanded Learning Coalition helped pass a bill to create the Washington State Expanded Learning Opportunities Council. This Council includes School’s Out, Expanded Learning Providers, higher education, career and technical schools, as well as representation from other education stakeholders like the PTA, teachers, school board members, and superintendents. The Council’s purpose is to create recommendations to increase Expanded Learning as well as options for extending the traditional school day and year and implementing the Summer Knowledge Improvement Program (SKIP) that passed last year.

Quality Standards

The Quality Standards were officially adopted by the ELO council. Click to read standards

The Council will be releasing several reports over the next few years. The first report (PDF link) released this month outlines the data gathering and work plan of the Council. The report also outlines the Council’s adoption of the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool and Youth Development Programs. School’s Out Washington developed these standards in conjunction with the national David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality and afterschool and summer programs across the state in order to create stronger programs for kids. School’s Out looks forward to working with the Council to develop robust recommendations in 2015.

You can learn more about the council and view all meeting agendas, minutes and council updates on OSPI’s website.

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