News

Sep
11

Community Partnerships Expand Expanded Learning Opportunties for Tacoma Students

Filed Under: Expanded Learning - Posted @ 4:13pm

This Fall, elementary students at 22 Tacoma Public Schools will have on-site access to Expanded Learning Opportunities with the support of wide-reaching community partnerships and funding from national and local sources.  These Expanded Learning Opportunities – like visual and performing arts, dance, robotics, STEM, mentorship, sports, and more – take place before and after school, providing a safe place for students to learn new skills, build positive relationships, and connect with their community. 

“From large organizations like Metro Parks and Boys & Girls Clubs who help support coordination at all the school sites to smaller grassroots organizations like Krownless Kids and Vision Step who provide programming,  it’s inspiring to see all of these organizations come together and align their time, resources, and expertise to provide all these valuable opportunities for our kids to grow.”

“It’s good for them to be involved in these learning opportunities that they don’t always get during the regular school day because it really helps accelerate their growth both as people and as students,” said Shauna Gilmore, a parent whose children participated in one of the after-school programs at Manitou Park Elementary last year. “My kids didn’t like to get on stage before because they’d never really done it, so being a part of the creative arts program here exposed them to that, and I think in the long run, when they get to college or their work and they have to make a presentation they can feel more confident about doing that because of having these building blocks now.”

Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs) like the one Gilmore’s children participated in at Manitou Park are made possible through the Tacoma Whole Child partnership. With funding through The Wallace Foundation’s Partnership for Social Emotional Learning Initiative, the Whole Child Partnership brings together the school district and expanded learning providers to ensure every child has the same opportunity to grow socially, emotionally, and academically.

GTCF Senior Program Officer Fahren Johnson says the Whole Child partnership has made it possible to provide opportunities for local students that no single organization could provide on their own.  “From large organizations like Metro Parks and Boys & Girls Clubs who help support coordination at all the school sites to smaller grassroots organizations like Krownless Kids and Vision Step who provide programming,  it’s inspiring to see all of these organizations come together and align their time, resources, and expertise to provide all these valuable opportunities for our kids to grow.”

Parents like Gilmore agree. “They are at the school already, and it’s a place I know they are safe with people I can trust, so it just makes it easier than having to take them somewhere else.  I’m a single mom, so it works out good for all of us because I get to have that extra hour and a half or so to get other things done while they are learning and doing something they enjoy.”

The Whole Child Partnership launched in 12 elementary schools last year, with funding from the Wallace Foundation’s Partnership for Social Emotional Learning Initiative.  New this year, Metro Parks will provide Expanded Learning Opportunities at 10 additional elementary school sites. Increased resources provided by the Tacoma Creates initiative, which voters approved last fall, will help fund students’ access to these opportunities.

At the heart of these community partnerships is an aligned effort to make these Expanded Learning Opportunities accessible to all students and families.  According to Gina Anstey, GTCF Vice President, Whole Child, that means meeting kids and families where they are at, by offering the programs at the school sites, “Sometimes, when programs are offered later at night at different locations, that can be really difficult for families. Now it’s just part of the school day, so it’s a seamless transition from their classes to snack time to a quality after school program.”

“We know from the data that participation in Expanded Learning Opportunities results in more days at school, lower drop out rates, and better test scores.

Parents like Gilmore agree. “They are at the school already, and it’s a place I know they are safe with people I can trust, so it just makes it easier than having to take them somewhere else.  I’m a single mom, so it works out good for all of us because I get to have that extra hour and a half or so to get other things done while they are learning and doing something they enjoy.”

With Expanded Learning Opportunities being provided at 22 Tacoma Public Schools sites this year, James Neil, Tacoma Public Schools Director of Athletics and Activities says the long-term goal is to have them at all 36 Tacoma elementary schools, “We know from the data that participation in Expanded Learning Opportunities results in more days at school, lower drop out rates, and better test scores.  We also know that the more our students can have caring adults in their lives, connecting them to all kinds learning experiences, they can develop a broader lens for their future, and become productive members of our community.”

To support aligned Expanded Learning Opportunities at Tacoma elementary schools during the 2019-20 school year, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation issued $700,000 in grants to these organizations

Program Providers Coordination Partners
Alchemy Indoor Skatepark & Education Center Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound
America’s Foundation for Chess Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound KBTC
Engageable Designs LLC Peace Community Center
Girls on the Run of WestSound Tacoma Arts Live
Innovation Makers, LLC, dba Snapology
KBTC Association
Krownless Kings
National Center for Restorative Justice
Northwest Ultimate Association/DiscNW
OnSight253Fitness
Pierce Conservation District
Rock Paper Scissors Foundation
Symphony Tacoma
Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma Arts Live
Tacoma Community House
Tacoma Gents
Tacoma South Puget Sound MESA
Tacoma Tree Foundation
Tacoma Urban League
Tacoma Urban League
Techbridge Girls
The First Tee of South Puget Sound
TJH Media LLC
UnCommon
Village Life
Vision of Eastside Step Team
Walkership LLC DBA Bricks 4 Kidz
YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties
YWCA Pierce County

Expanded Learning Opportunities will be available at these 22 elementary schools

Participating Elementary Schools
Arlington
Birney
Blix
Boze
Brown’s Point
Crescent Heights
DeLong
Edison
Fawcett
Fern Hill
Franklin
Larchmont
Lister
Lyon
Manitou Park
McCarver
Northeast Tacoma
Reed
Roosevelt
Sheridan
Stafford
Whitman

 

To learn more about GTCF’s involvement in Tacoma Whole Child contact Gina Anstey, Vice President, Whole Child