Whole Child Partnerships Bring Expanded Learning Opportunities to 12 Tacoma Elementary Schools

 Wednesday, August 8, 2018


Whole Child Partnerships Bring Expanded Learning Opportunities to 12 Tacoma Elementary Schools

Students at 12 Tacoma elementary schools will have access to new expanded learning opportunities on their campuses this school year thanks to a unique partnership between Tacoma Public Schools, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, and many local youth-serving organizations.   

Five local organizations received grants to hire expanded learning coordinators for on-site work at 12 Tacoma elementary schools.  The five organizations are: Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, KBTC Public Television, Peace Community Center, and Schools Out Washington. The coordinators will serve as liaisons between school staff and on-site expanded learning program providers, managing logistics, sharing data, and connecting students to learning opportunities 

The 12 Tacoma elementary schools are: Birney, Blix, Boze, DeLong, Edison, Fawcett, Larchmont, Lister, Manitou Park, Reed, Sheridan, and Whitman.  

Students at the 12 schools will be able to select from a range of programs including visual and performing arts, dance, coding, STEM, and sports. The expanded learning opportunities will be offered over the course of three 8-week sessions throughout the school year.  Programming may be offered before, during, or after school depending on identified need and available space at each site.  Opportunities for academic support and mentorship will be provided as well. 

“We’ve seen this expanded learning model work here in Tacoma at the Middle School level, so we’re excited to be able to offer it for our younger students too,” GTCF Expanded Learning Program Manager Fahren Johnson served as an Expanded Learning Coordinator for 6 years at First Creek Middle School before joining GTCF. “Not only do expanded learning opportunities provide a safe place for learning, connecting, and belonging, they also serve as a catalyst to help young people tap into natural gifts, talents, passions, and leadership skills.” 

“Not only do expanded learning opportunities provide a safe place for learning, connecting, and belonging, they also serve as a catalyst to help young people tap into natural gifts, talents, passions, and leadership skills.” – Fahren Johnson, GTCF Expanded Learning Program Manager

The expanded learning coordinators will be employees of the partner organizations but will receive training as a cohort through GTCF and will work together throughout the year to develop common practices that support high-quality expanded learning opportunities at each school site.  

These new expanded learning opportunities are part of the Tacoma Whole Child Partnership as well as a nationally recognized and promoted research initiative through The Wallace Foundation.  Both are aimed at providing, aligned, equitable, high quality social, emotional, and academic development to elementary school students in and out of school.  A phased roll-out will take place over six years, with more schools staring in 2021. 

The Whole Child approach supports students in learning how to manage emotions, achieve positive goals, show empathy, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Staff who interact with students—on the school bus, in hallways, in classrooms, and through expanded learning opportunities— model and support the same social and emotional practices.

“Tacoma Public Schools, GTCF, and our numerous community partners believe in the Whole Child.  By working collectively to provide Expanded Learning Opportunities, we strengthen our capacity to ensure every child is safe, supported, healthy, engaged, and challenged.”  – Dr. Josh Garcia, Deputy Superintendent, Tacoma Public Schools


“This partnership allows us to do something for young people that none of us could do on our own.  It’s an opportunity to build capacity for Expanded Learning in the community so we can scale this work in more schools in future years.” – Kacey Guin, GTCF Director


“Collaboration and partnership is the solution to many community issues, especially those revolving around the needs of youth.  This partnership has the potential to formally align the strengths of many community organizations and sustain a system that focuses on the whole child.” – Elvin Bucu, Director of Operations Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound



“All children have the right to thrive and become amazing.  Our shared work is to create opportunities for them to do just that. We are looking forward to the coming school year and are honored to join the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and our community partners in this vital work.” – Katie Lappier & Antonio Gomez, Education Director and Manager, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts



“These partners play a critical role in supporting learning and KBTC works closely with numerous community partners to identify and address needs for children and families in our communities. This partnership strengthens our commitment to this work and allows us to further align efforts within our community to better serve our youth.” – Alyssa Torrez, Community Engagement Manager, KBTC Public Television


“School’s Out Washington is thrilled to partner in this innovative effort to explore how we can best leverage the positive impact of quality expanded learning in developing social emotional skills.  We know that learning and development does not stop when the school bell rings, and this will help us understand how to strengthen school-community partnerships to support the whole child both in and out of school.” – Elizabeth Whitford, CEO, School’s Out Washington.


Greater Tacoma Community Foundation is still seeking additional partners to provide programming at 1 or more of these schools during the upcoming year.  For more information, contact Fahren Johnson 


Since 1981, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation has connected donors, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and members of the community with causes and actions that build a thriving and vibrant Pierce County. Through financial stewardship of more than 450 funds and over $100 million in assets as well as strategic funding and initiatives for the community, GTCF supports the region in realizing its full potential. As a nationally accredited nonprofit community foundation, GTCF supports generosity across generations within Pierce County. Learn more at 


Joe Hunich, Communications Specialist