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Expanded Learning Opportunities Help Students Develop Leadership Skills

Filed Under: Uncategorized - Posted @ 4:06pm

Hundreds of students packed the gymnasium at First Creek Middle School on March 30 for the 7th Seeds of Peace Youth Summit. The one-day event is organized and run by student leaders from the Eagle Center after-school program. This year’s event featured presentations from local experts, interactive workshops, musical performances, skits, and a variety of activities focused on three overarching themes: Social Justice, Cultural Awareness, and Bullying Prevention.  

GTCF Program Manager of Expanded Learning Opportunities, Fahren Johnson, helped a group of First Creek students establish Seeds of Peace back in 2010. She continues to support them in putting it together each year.  Johnson says the summit is a prime example of what can happen when young people have access to high-quality, equity-informed Expanded Learning Opportunities

“Not only does ELO [Expanded Learning Opportunities] provide a safe place for learning, connecting, and belonging, it also serves as a catalyst to help young people tap into natural giftings, talents, passions and leadership skills.” – Fahren Johnson, GTCF Program Manager of Expanded Learning Opportunities



The Eagle Center at First Creek Middle School provides middle school and high school students in Tacoma’s Eastside with expanded learning opportunities like academic support, mentorship, art, music, cultural enrichment, and more. Students say these programs give them a chance to learn about stuff they don’t usually get to learn about during school and it helps them grow as individuals as well.


“I’ve always been shy, but this has just helped me to blossom and really step up to what I believe in and be a leader. ” – Hanna, Middle School Student

“At Eagle Center I did MIP (Male Involvement Program) and we talked about becoming a man and growing as a person.  The biggest takeaway was just, respect and the importance of taking responsibility in school, life, and just the person that I am and how I treat others.”  – Matthew, High School Student

“The adults here are planting a seed by instilling the idea in us that we can make a difference in our community.  They are really good people to talk to if you have something going on at home and they help you learn how to help others too, because we have the potential to do that we just don’t always know how.” – Keyonna, High School Student


GTCF supports high quality Expanded Learning Opportunities for young people throughout Pierce County through funding and the Youth Philanthropy Board. In addition, GTCF is partnered with Tacoma Public Schools and other local organizations in an initiative funded by The Wallace Foundation to provide a system of coordination for Expanded Learning Opportunities at 12 Tacoma elementary schools sites beginning next Fall.

GTCF donors support youth and education through scholarships, individual giving, and planned giving. Reach out to GTCF’s donor services to find out how individual philanthropy can make a difference for the causes that matter to you.