Announcing new Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline awards

Our partners at King County’s Best Starts for Kids are doing great work that supports Zero Youth Detention goals to prevent youth involvement with the legal system and create a society where all kids thrive. Read on to learn about their announcement today of new awards for community partners. You can learn more about Best Starts for Kids by visiting their blog.

King County’s Best Starts for Kids is proud to announce new awards to create opportunities and provide community-based resources that help dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline and expand pathways from school to life success for young people who face systemic and institutional racism within our criminal legal system, schools, and communities.

The combined $4.48 million in funding will expand supports that equip young people of color with relationships, guidance, and resources within their communities. These awards complement existing partnerships working toward dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, with a focus on programs that engage young women of color, Latinx youth and young adults, Native American youth and young adults, and programs that emphasize gender identity, sexuality, and anti-sexism for young men of color.

Phenomenal She builds confidence and self-esteem for young women of color. Above, young women from Phenomenal She at an end of school year celebration, showing certificates of achievement.

These partnerships will add to Best Starts’ collective work to address the circumstances and systemic inequities that create barriers to success for young people, primarily youth of color. Programs will promote cultural identity development, enhance positive connections to communities, and support young people to achieve their educational and career goals.

“Historically, young women of color are undervalued and underserved by society and their communities. Our program is essential because we uplift, motivate, educate, encourage, empower, and build self-esteem with those same young women,” said Carlecia Bell, Executive Director of Phenomenal She. “Partnering with Best Starts for Kids will bring us closer to our vision of a society in which all girls and young women of color have the foundations needed to break any glass ceiling they may encounter.”

Phenomenal She will provide a positive environment for young women of color through workshops that build confidence and self-esteem and open pathways to success in life. Participants will meet three times a week in Federal Way and Des Moines. Learning alongside mentors that share their culture and life experience, participants will receive science and technology enrichment, financial literacy coaching, resume writing help, and more in a supportive, affirming environment.

“Unkitawa envisions a world where Indigenous peoples are strengthened & active in their culture & traditions,” said Kyle Schierbeck, Boarch Chair of Unkitawa. “Partnering with Best Starts for Kids will enable our organization to provide support to our community. Our program will provide healing for inter-generational and historical trauma through Indigenous cultural teachings.”

Unkitawa will provide twice weekly support, programming, and outreach to Indigenous young people at community centers, tribal buildings, and schools throughout King County.

Best Starts is thrilled to add these organizations and collective partnerships to their community dedicated to dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline through authentic, community-based supports that create space for all young people on the path from school to life success:

  • East African Community Services
  • Empowering Youth & Families Outreach
  • Federal Way Youth Action Team in partnership with Ambition is Priceless , Peleese Siva Foundation, Formerly Incarcerated Entrepreneurial Development, and Positive Outcomes Program
  • Latino Community Fund of WA State
  • Phenomenal She
  • SafeFutures Youth Center
  • Unkitawa

King County received over 90 applications for this funding opportunity. Partners were selected through extensive review involving youth and young adults, community members, and King County staff. Funds ranged between $430,000 and $640,000 for individual organizations, and from $600,000 and $815,000 for partnerships between multiple organizations and will support programming for the next 2.5 years.