State announces new COVID relief funds to support nonprofits helping youth

Photo courtesy Washington State Department of Commerce

The need for youth programs that provide learning, mentoring and social-emotional support to students and young adults has never been greater, but COVID-19 has significantly impacted the ability of many nonprofits to keep their doors open. The Washington State Department of Commerce is partnering with School’s Out Washington to distribute approximately $9 million in state Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to respond to the impact of COVID-19 by supporting programs serving school age kids and young adults facing the most significant challenges to educational and economic opportunity.

“COVID-19 is straining individuals, families and communities in profound ways,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Many community-based nonprofits are trusted places for young adults and parents seeking safe, healthy support systems for their children. These groups have been working to address inequity and disparities in the same communities where the COVID-19 crisis threatens to widen existing disparities.”

Gov. Jay Inslee directed state CARES Act funds to the Department of Commerce to help with COVID-19 relief efforts across Washington. The agency has distributed more than $700 million in CARES funding in support of local governments, tribes, nonprofits, housing relief and business recovery.

“The COVID-19 outbreak, extended school closures and social distancing have deepened inequities and hardships for children and youth across Washington state,” said School’s Out Washington executive Director Elizabeth Whitford. “During the pandemic, youth development programs have quickly adapted their services to provide responsive supports for youth and families, and they have also been particularly impacted by the financial and programmatic challenges that have come with COVID-19.”

Working with stakeholders and partnering with local organizations, School’s Out Washington developed application criteria and will award grants between $10,000 – $50,000, based on the organization’s 2019 budget. Priority consideration will be given to programs that serve youth with lower access to educational opportunity and whose leaders are reflective of the populations they serve.

A call for reviewers from communities around the state is needed to evaluate proposals on a regional basis to make awards by November 2020.

More details regarding this opportunity, and how to apply for a grant or to become a reviewer, are available at: http://youthdevrelief.schoolsoutwashington.org/

Youth development includes three primary types of programs: 1) expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) such as afterschool and summer programs, 2) mentoring, and 3) wrap-around services that connect youth with social-emotional and non-academic supports integrated within a school setting. Youth development programs emphasize the importance of meeting young people where they are – physically, academically, socially and emotionally – to help them build the relationships, competencies, and confidence they need to reach their full potential.

These funds are separate from the grants announced last week by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for organizations working with school districts to support school-based learning for the duration of this school year.

Additional relief for child care providers may be announced in the coming days from the state Department of Children, Youth, and Families.

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