Hello and Happy Fall from the Casino Road Initiative!
We’ve had a busy September, and we’re excited to share some updates with you.
As we move forward in this work, we find out more and more everyday how important it is to lay a good foundation to build the future of this project on. Even though this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, we know this time is necessary and well-spent. Part of that strong foundation in ensuring that equity and community voices are woven into the fabric of this project from Day One. To ensure that we’re focusing on these complex but vital elements, we’ve spent the last month learning from others on how to best incorporate equity and authentic community engagement into this work.
Here’s a little more information about what we’ve been up to:
Earlier this month, our entire Leadership Council spent 6 hours together at a “retreat” learning from local experts about equity and community engagement. The CEO of Eastside Pathways, Stephanie Cherrington, graciously spent several hours speaking with our group about community-strengthening working happening in Bellevue. Eastside Pathways was formed in 2011 by a collaborative of private and public sector partners who were concerned that Bellevue’s education system wasn’t responding to the diverse racial, language, and socio-economic changes they were seeing in their community. To help remedy this, leaders in that community formed Eastside Pathways in order to mobilize different stakeholders in Bellevue to better support children from “cradle to career.” Because this collaborative group is 6 years into their project, they were able to share some very valuable advice and information with the Casino Road Initiative as we embark on the first stages of this work. Learn more about what they do here. We feel this group could be a strong model for the CRI in the future.
This same day, we had the honor of learning more about equity from the YMCA of Snohomish County’s Tami Farber. The Casino Road neighborhood is one of the most diverse in Everett. At the local elementary school, nearly 80% of the students identify as something other than White. Additionally, this community has been identified as the most poverty-stricken in the entire county. Over 77% of those same elementary school students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Knowing this, the CRI is working hard to ensure that advancing equity in this community is at the heart of everything we do. To build off of the information shared with us by the lovely Tami Farber, several members of the Leadership Council we be participating in the renowned Undoing Institutional Racism training given by the People’s Institute this October and December. This is hard work, but crucial to the future of this project.
Inviting Community Voice
In order to transform this community, the work needs to be done for the community and by the community. In order to create a culture and structure that ensures community voices are guiding the core of this work, we have formed a Community Engagement Working Group to learn more about how to do just that. Later next month, the members of this group will be attending several trainings given by local experts such as the Pomegranate Center and Tostan. For more information, visit their webpages here and here. In the meantime, members of the Initiative continue to participate in local community events such as Hand in Hand’s Coffee Moms and the YMCA’s Adult Education Classes to make sure we’re staying up-to-date with the beat of the community.
Projects: Supporting Our Partners
As one of the CRI’s first projects, the Leadership Council decided to support some of our partners with an application for 3 years of United Way funding. In partnership with Everett Community College, Seattle Goodwill, and Casa Latina, the YMCA and ChildStrive are working together to support parents and their young children at the Children’s Village on Casino Road. In this collaborative, parents enroll in English as a Second Language or Spanish GED classes while their young children attend an onsite early learning program. The partner organizations then wrap around these families with additional resources such as child development screenings, leadership classes, and case management. While the YMCA and other partners have been offering classes on Casino Road for 6 years now (Happy Birthday, Y Casino Road Community Center!), this new funding opportunity would allow those classes to expand and to leverage additional resources to better support those families. After a lot of time and effort, Cory Armstrong-Hoss of the YMCA was able to submit the final application for this funding yesterday! We were so happy to be able to support this incredible work being done to support families on Casino Road.
If you would like more information on any of these developments or would like to know how to get involved, please e-mail me at sara@CF-SC.org, or call me at (425) 343-8984.
Also, don’t forget to like our Facebook page for regular updates! You can find us at https://www.facebook.com/CasinoRoadInitiative/. I regularly post events and resources for families on this page, so this may also be a good recourse for those of you providing direct services to families.
Thank you for your continued support, and we’ll be back with the next update in October!