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City Year staff member Erika Rasmussen describes how City Year Seattle/King County works with the local school district and with community organizations to offer high-quality OST programming.

City Year Seattle/King County, a member of the AmeriCorps national network, engages young adults (ages 17 to 24) from diverse backgrounds in 10 months of full-time service in local, community-based organizations and schools. Around the country, City Year develops partnerships with agencies to promote children's academic and social success. Through tutoring and mentoring, inspiring an ethic of community service, and supporting out-of-school time (OST) programs, City Year aims to address the critical needs of the community and its children. Over the past 7 years, Seattle/King County young adult participants, called “corps members,” have offered a variety of OST programs to Seattle's Beacon Hill community, including:

  • Starfish Corps, which provides third through fifth graders with safe, structured, fun activities led by corps members (e.g., field trips, arts and crafts, games, shared readings, and community service). These activities foster community-building, teamwork, and an interest in and dedication to community service.
  • Activity Clubs, including soccer, math, games, newspaper, and homework clubs, for second through fifth graders, in which corps members emphasize teamwork and literacy skills.
  • Camp City Year, a low-cost, school-based enrichment camp for kindergarten through fifth graders, held during spring vacation, designed and run by City Year corps members in partnership with the school district.

Working closely with schools and community organizations has helped City Year Seattle/King County to build our programming and provide “win–win” situations that benefit children, schools, and community organizations. These collaborations allow us to offer high-quality programming that extends, but does not replicate, the school day. Emphasizing play and recreation as well as academics, our programs help children experience success in new ways and develop as well-rounded individuals. Our program goals and components are consistent with the standards of quality identified by both the Washington State After School Plan and the Seattle Public Schools' Office of Community Learning, which partners with community organizations to support OST programs.

Programs in the Wing Luke Elementary School in Seattle are one example of an effective collaboration between City Year Seattle/King County and a local school. City Year and the school work together to provide resources to support both an in-school tutoring program and a set of OST activities. Five to seven City Year corps members serve as full-time volunteers in both the in-school and OST programs each year. These corps members—who are young, motivated, and demographically reflective of the school population—build continuity between the school day and OST and function as consistent adult role models for the students. The school provides training for the corps members to help them work effectively with children, as well as vital program resources, such as space, including full access to classrooms, the gymnasium, and a multipurpose room; materials such as arts and crafts supplies, books, and snacks; and transportation home for OST participants, via school buses, at the end of the program day. Community members also provide additional resources, coordinated by the City Year corps members. For example:

  • The American Red Cross teaches children about disaster relief and readiness.
  • Seattle Public Utilities, EarthCorps, and Seattle Parks and Recreation provide resources for promoting environmental awareness and community service.
  • Children's Hospital engages children in service projects to benefit patients.
  • Local food banks have involved children in a variety of projects and educated them about ways to serve the hungry.
  • Local businesses have provided over $9,000 in in-kind donations for program supplies.

We evaluate our programs and partnerships in several ways, using both qualitative and quantitative data. We maintain accurate enrollment and attendance records, which allow us to track the growth of our program over time and to see the scale of impact our program has on the school and community. We also conduct pre- and postprogram surveys with children, focusing, for example, on how participation in the Starfish Corps affects their ongoing civic engagement, civic motivation, and other program goals. In addition, our service partners (e.g., community organizations) complete midyear and end-of-year surveys to help us understand what works well and what could be improved.

Through surveys from past years, we have found that, on the postprogram survey, over 90% of the children participating in the OST programs agree with statements like “It is important to do things to help my community,”“My neighborhood needs me to help,”and “By taking action, I can help my neighborhood become a better place.”School staff, parents, and community partners have consistently been delighted by the partnerships City Year has generated on behalf of the well-being of students.

Erika Rasmussen
Service Director
City Year Seattle/King County
309 23rd Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98144
Tel: 206-219-4995

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