What is the Initiative?
Too many children in Seattle are not prepared for success in school or a career. We’re mobilizing the community to improve city services to address the problem. Over 2,800 residents attended 131 neighborhood meetings and the Kids and Families Congress and agreed on 37 specific priorities for City services. Those priorities shaped the proposed Families and Education Levy renewal to support programs to ensure all children graduate school ready for success. We’re also auditing existing city spending on youth and families to match those community priorities.
In 2010 the Youth and Families Initiative went out to talk to the community and set priorities. In 2011, the initiative is driving internal and external action in the following ways:
- Determine where and how the city spends money along Seattle’s Roadmap to Success to ensure city spending is in line with current research on best practices and our community priorities.
- Focus on the renewal of the Families and Education Levy to increase resources available for the kids who need it most in our community
- Implement Action Teams devoted to the priorities identified at the Kids and Families Congress.
- Convene local educational institutions and funders to collaborate on education reform and budget alignment.
- Increase community engagement and participation in internal city work as well as through Seattle’s Cities of Service plan.
These five priorities came out of a year long process. The Initiative began its work with a series of public forums to ask the community directly: What do youth and families in the city need to succeed? The Initiative held five large workshops, a youth summit, and 131 community caucuses throughout the city to identify the most important issues facing youth and families in the Seattle. The events generated a huge turnout, with over 3,000 Seattle residents participating and meetings held in eight different languages.
Next, delegates convened for the Kids and Families Congress to review the more than 1,200 issues that community members had raised. They prioritized the top issues for immediate action, which fall within the Initiative’s six action areas: health, neighborhood safety, race and social justice, strong neighborhoods, youth development, and education. Action teams are currently at work on strategies in each of these action areas to help children succeed, responding directly to the concerns and suggestions of the community members who participated in the Initiative.
Large group workshops
February 22nd – March 22nd, 2010
This was the first phase of the Initiative, where people from across our community came together to make their voices heard and talk about the issues facing our children and families in Seattle today. Participants were divided into small group breakout sessions and each small group had a facilitator to guide the discussion as well as a note taker to record the group’s comments and the priorities and possible solutions that were raised during the discussion. Each table elected one delegate to attend the Kids and Families Congress on June 5th, 2010 at the Seattle Center.
There were 5 large workshops where the general public participated in the process, as well as a special 6th workshop that was geared specifically towards students from our public school system:
February 22, 2010 (general public) – Rainier Community Center 7-8:30 p.m.
March 1, 2010 (general public) – Northgate Elementary School 7-8:30 p.m.
March 8, 2010 (general public) – Van Asselt Elementary School 7-8:30 p.m.
March 15, 2010 (general public) – Denny Middle School 7-8:30 p.m.
March 22, 2010 (general public) – Garfield Community Center 7-8:30 p.m.
April 8, 2010 - Youth Summit – Bertha Knight Landes Room in City Hall, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
March 22nd – April 30th, 2010
Our goal with the Youth and Families Initiative is to get input from everyone in Seattle who cares about these issues. We realized that not everyone was going to be able to attend one of the large group workshops, so in order to make sure we heard from a representative sample of the population of the city, and especially from historically underrepresented groups and communities, we held 131 Community Caucuses around the city. Each Community Caucus was an opportunity for a group that wanted to make its voice heard to meet, with a facilitator, in a living room, coffee shop, community center—anywhere where people gather naturally in a community. The idea was that, instead of asking you to come to us, we went to you to make sure that your voice was heard. Each Community Caucus, like each small group at the large group workshops, elected one delegate to send on to the broader Kids and Families Congress on June 5th at the Seattle Center.
Kids and Families Congress
June 5th, 2010
All input and ideas raised at the caucuses were advanced to the Kids and Families Congress, an all-day gathering where the delegates from the large group workshops and the Community Caucuses focused on on refining priorities, talking about solutions, and building concrete action plans to address the priority issues that were identified through the course of the workshops.
Working groups will be formed to begin mapping out specific action plans aimed at these issues, using the resources at our disposal – from our city, county, and state government agencies, our school district, and our partners in the labor community, the private sector, and the non-profit community, as well as individual citizens, particularly parents and students. Action Planning Groups will be formed to further refine plans and identify needed resources.
To see how you can get involved, click on the “Get Involved” tab above.
Let’s provide opportunities for all families to be engaged and create bridges for collaboration between schools and communities.