FFTS Partners with County to Fund Expanded Learning Opportunities

The Foundation for Tacoma Students is proud to announce the awarding of 20 grants totaling $575,000 to local organizations through the Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) fund. In partnership with Pierce County, these grants will support critical out-of-school programs for youth who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are honored to support the following organizations in expanding their capacity to empower Tacoma’s youth.

The ELO fund was created to help close opportunity gaps and support the academic, social-emotional and mental wellbeing of youth of color. The programs awarded grants will provide academic enrichment, social-emotional learning, mentoring, cultural activities, and more for K-12 students outside of traditional school hours.

We are honored to support the following organizations in expanding their capacity to empower  youth in Pierce County:

List of Awardees

The Site Coordination program by Communities In Schools of Peninsula focuses on meeting the unique needs of students, families, and schools throughout the community. Site coordinators work collaboratively with school leaders, teachers, and support personnel to create partnerships that bring essential resources into the school environment, aiming to remove barriers to learning. Through various strategies like mindfulness activities, mentoring, and ‘Girls on the Run,’ the program helps students develop critical social competencies, including resiliency, self-management, and responsible decision-making. 

Leaders of Change, an afterschool program by Communities In Schools of Lakewood, empowers students by building their confidence and encouraging them to become positive role models for their peers. Through support from CIS tutors, the program assists students in achieving their academic goals. Regular check-ins with family members create a strong support network for the students on their path to success, fostering a positive and nurturing environment.

The Male Involvement Program (MIP) Summer Camp, organized by Black Innovators in STEAM, is designed to prevent youth violence among elementary and middle school males of color attending specific schools. The program provides mentoring from adult males of color and offers culturally-anchored activities and structured group discussions on leadership, communication, conflict resolution, anger management, and violence prevention. Through this initiative, MIP aims to empower young boys with essential life skills and positive behaviors, promoting safer and more supportive communities.

Our Sisters’ House Outreach is committed to educating, advocating, and supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence and crime victims within Pierce County. The organization offers various support groups for families, teens, and individuals, using empowerment and education as the foundation of their curriculum. By providing a safe space and tailored support groups, the program aims to help those impacted by domestic violence heal, grow, and regain control over their lives.

The Summer Stretch Academy, part of the Rainier Scholars program, focuses on long-term college readiness for underrepresented students of color in Tacoma. The program starts engaging students and their families in 4th grade and accompanies them throughout a proven 12-year model that encompasses academics, leadership, career development, and identity exploration. By accelerating students’ learning, Rainier Scholars aims to reduce educational disparities and prepare students for college with minimal debt. Additionally, the program supports parents and guardians in becoming strong educational advocates for their children.

The Summer CHAMPS program, offered by the Frankling Pierce School District at Keithley Middle School, provides students with academic support and enrichment opportunities. With qualified staff assigned to students, the program helps address academic challenges and offers extra help with homework. In addition, CHAMPS provides a variety of enrichment activities such as clubs, sports, arts, and STEM engagement, fostering well-rounded students with a passion for learning and personal growth.

The Gamechangers Summer Leadership Academy, organized by Build 2 Lead, offers middle and high school students an engaging program filled with site visits, fun workshops, and field trips focused on leadership, health, physical fitness, advocacy, and more. Over a three-week period, students participate in presentations and workshops that cover topics such as emotional intelligence, self-awareness, college and career readiness, and financial literacy. Through these experiences, the program aims to develop well-rounded individuals ready to become effective leaders and advocates in their communities.

The Parkland Literacy Center at Pacific Lutheran University aims to serve the academic needs of the local community by offering tutoring in various subjects, including language tutoring for English Language Learners and assistance in learning Spanish. The program, staffed by PLU student staff and volunteers, helps K-12 students from the Franklin Pierce and Bethel School Districts excel academically. Additionally, the program offers language tutoring, empowering students to expand their language skills and prepare for the STAMP test.

The Latinx Learning Neighborhood is an innovative model of community engagement led by KBTC Public Television and community partners. The program offers culturally relevant educational experiences that acknowledge and respect the cultural values and traditions of Latinx families in East Pierce County. Through the use of Ready to Learn resources and PBS KIDS programs, the Learning Neighborhood strengthens bonds with the Latinx community and provides vital academic and career-related skills.

The Gridiron Youth Tackle Football Program, formerly known as Pick 6 Sports, aims to bring joy to children by promoting active and fun football play in a positive and safe environment. Recognizing the valuable life lessons learned through youth sports, the program strives to build self-confidence and foster important skills that translate into all aspects of life. Gridiron Washington offers year-round programs in the Greater Seattle Area, providing children with an opportunity to grow physically, mentally, and socially through football.

The BYAC Empower Youth program encourages young individuals to enhance their education, support their independence, and actively participate in the community through a variety of educational, social, and recreational classes and activities. The center fosters a positive and safe atmosphere for education, recreation, and companionship, empowering youth to develop essential life skills and thrive in a supportive environment.

The WA History Field Trips, organized by the Washington State Historical Society, provide students with an exciting opportunity to explore the past and understand how history connects people from different backgrounds. Through engaging and interactive field trips to the Washington State History Museum, students have the chance to see real objects from the past and learn about stories from across the state. This program aims to inspire students’ curiosity and appreciation for history.

The ARK Institute of Learning provides individualized assessments to students who have not received recent educational evaluations. These assessments serve as the basis for creating tailored strategic plans that support students’ future learning and academic success. Through small-group summer classes, one-on-one instruction, and educational evaluations, ARK helps students gain the skills and knowledge needed to excel academically.

The Game Time Way offers unique basketball events that bring together players and spectators for an exclusive one-of-a-kind basketball experience. With MVP and All-Team Awards, All-Star Games, live announcers, and music, the events provide a fun and engaging atmosphere. The program also contributes to the community by giving back a portion of the proceeds to local charities, promoting teamwork, and encouraging physical fitness and personal growth through the sport of basketball.

Imagine Build Immerse  by Clover Park Technical College  is a one-day camp to bringing together 40 high school students from Tacoma Public High Schools to explore careers in the skilled trades. Students will have a chance to participate in projects in the Construction and
Welding program and in the Mechatronics and Advanced Manufacturing programs.

Tacoma Boat Builders offers one-on-one mentorship and hands-on learning programs centered around woodworking, wooden boat building, and rowing/sailing. The program emphasizes relationships and choice for all participants, allowing youth and adults to develop empathy, competency, and self-advocacy skills. Through this positive climate, participants gain valuable social-emotional and hands-on skills that contribute to their personal growth.

The Youth Summer Programs at Mountain View Community Center cater to the needs of youth, providing essential support for basic needs, social connections, personal growth, service opportunities, and leadership development. By focusing on alleviating youth hunger, offering educational and recreational enrichment, and providing service opportunities, the center aims to foster well-rounded individuals within the community.

The Camp Fife Day Camp, organized by the City of Fife, offers weekly themed discovery journeys for campers to explore and unwind in natural settings. With activities ranging from group games and swimming to sensory tables and field trips to local parks and museums, the program aims to develop a range of lifelong socio-emotional skills in participants.

The Sumner Library Summer Arts Camp, designed for youth ages 13-18, explores three artistic mediums with the guidance of local working artists. Participants have the opportunity to showcase their creativity and talents through visual arts. The program aims to provide a platform for young artists to express themselves and foster a deeper appreciation for various art forms.

The WayOut Kids Summer STEAM Camp offers an exciting and innovative experience for children ages 7-12. With engaging activities focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, the camp activates young minds and encourages exploration. Participants can enjoy various interactive activities, including breakfast, lunch, field trips, golf lessons, science museums, and more.

These organizations were selected through a competitive application process based on their ability to equitably serve students most impacted by remote learning during COVID-19. From academic tutoring to the arts to social-emotional skills, these programs will provide enriching and engaging opportunities to support young people as they work to recover from pandemic-related learning loss.

FFTS is committed to creating a community where every student has the support they need to thrive. We believe these grants will lead to meaningful growth by giving students safe, constructive places to spend time after school while building essential skills. Expanding access to out-of-school enrichment is one way we can help young people unlock their potential.

We look forward to seeing the positive impact these programs have on Pierce County’s youth. Congratulations to all of the fantastic organizations. By working together, we can ensure all students receive the resources and opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.