School’s Out Washington (SOWA for short) is an intermediary organization connecting the amazing afterschool and out of school programs for young people across the state. SOWA works hard to make sure our state is offering safe places for youth to learn and grow when they are not in school.
And I get to work with SOWA! I believe that the programs that happen outside of school hours are critical to creating safe spaces for our kids and further developing creative, critical thinkers and active community leaders. It is a huge opportunity to work with SOWA and meet the people across our state who bring community centers and gyms to life making them home to arts projects, science experiments, tutoring sessions, cooking classes and kickball games.
SOWA is carrying out many state-wide projects for the afterschool youth development field. One of those projects is the creation of definitions, strategies and policies for Expanded Learning Opportunities for Washington State. At the same time, SOWA is developing a state-wide Action Plan for Afterschool Youth Development (the last plan was in 2004). Both plans are being developed by the field using grassroots data gathering strategies.
I worked with SOWA on both projects –providing community organizing strategies, large-scale project management, meeting & focus group facilitation, research and data management.
Upon completion of these projects, the afterschool field has a state-wide plan, built by the field, to use as a road map to create even more coordination, resources and quality programs for AYD. The completion of a definition of Expanded Learning Opportunity and a strategy to further develop ELOs programs in Washington state will lead to increased partnerships between schools and after school organizations, increased academic success and will situate AYD as a key partner in the fight to end the opportunity gap and create opportunities for success for all young people regardless of their race.
This is big work – long-term system changes will be required. My piece of the puzzle was to keep us moving, grounded and breathing, paying attention to the multitude of ideas and needs from the field, all while keeping the little pieces of information organized and the energy up.
For more on School’s Out Washington, their work and their impact go here: www.schoolsoutwashington.org .
To see the Executive Summary of the Afterschool and Youth Development Plan for Washington, go here: AYD State Plan 2013 .
What SOWA has to say about working together
“As an external processor it was great to be able to talk with Annie about big ideas and broad concepts and she has a knack for asking the right questions, developing a flow for process and well-laid action plans. Annie will always be MY consultant for projects… she has had such a positive impact on my professional life.”
~ Amanda Scott Thomas, former Education Policy Director, School’s Out Washington
“Annie has kept us on track with our timeline to meet our production deadline. She challenges us to think more globally and to make sure all voices are heard. She is an amazing facilitator that brings out the best in everyone present. Annie has a way to draw out participants in a gracious and diplomatic style that makes everyone feel valued and welcome.”
~ Janet Schmidt, former Network Director, School’s Out Washington
“Annie is a skillful organizer and facilitator. Her strong managerial and facilitation skills have been extremely beneficial to our organization’s work. She has demonstrated the ability synthesize multiple pieces of a complex project and produce cohesive outcomes.”
~ Jackie Jainga Hyllseth, Quality Initiatives Director, School’s Out Washington