Prime Time Reading Sets Stage for Success
Many of us have fond memories of enjoying a favorite childhood book with a loving adult. Whether it’s the adventurous Eloise, the mischievous Curious George or the magical Harry Potter, books and their characters have the ability to transport us to enchanted places and help us engage in exploits not possible in our everyday lives.
Perhaps most importantly, reading sets a child up for success. That’s why Women Helping Women Fund supports the Prime Time Reading Program, conducted by Humanities Washington. This innovative literacy program improves opportunities for economically and educationally vulnerable children and families by conducting family reading nights at public libraries in Spokane County.
Evidence shows that children who do not read proficiently by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma. Family reading interventions can have a significant impact on closing the reading achievement gap, overall school success and dropout prevention.
Humanities Washington partners with libraries and elementary schools to identify families who could benefit from the program. Gonzaga University is a key partner, providing storytellers and discussion leaders, known as “scholars.”
Each series is composed of six 90-minute evening sessions. In each session, a professional storyteller reads three illustrated children’s books aloud, modeling storytelling techniques for parents and guardians. Next, the scholar leads parents and children in a discussion of the books’ themes. A healthy, family-style dinner is served, making the evening comfortable, welcoming and fun. The program targets children ages 6 to 10, but a pre-school coordinator is available to present activities to siblings who are too young to take part in the reading and discussion. Children are also given books to take home.
Last fall, thanks to funding received from WHWF, the first-ever series was held at the Spokane Valley Library branch. Nineteen families and 70 individuals participated in the program over the six-week period. Parent exit surveys demonstrated that they recognized the importance of their role in their children’s education and that they read to their children more often.
“Our families genuinely attempted to read and improve during the week,” observed a program scholar. “The students were more attentive as the weeks continued and pointed out the details in the books more frequently and more excitedly. I also noticed active discussion when I asked kids to converse with their grownups.”
The community organizer noted, “The program was creating a buzz in the school district, and other elementary schools were asking how they could sign up to get Prime Time for their students.”
Giving a Home
Picture your life WITHOUT your home. In Spokane the reality of homelessness has grown by 11% in 2017, of which 39% are women. Whatever the reason may be that led these individuals to homelessness – abuse, addiction, mental illness or other factors – these women don’t have one of their most basic needs met – shelter. However, in the greater Spokane area, Miryam’s House has become not only a sanctuary for those in need, but a launchpad for women transitioning back into a career and eventually a home.
At Miryam’s House single women are allowed safety and support. They are given a bed, resources for food, and access to hygiene care. Counseling programs, psychiatric treatment and one-on-one case management and assistance are offered to help women heal and transform their lives. For over 30 years Miryam’s House acts as a stabilizer for women in crisis and transition – and as a 2017 Women Helping Women Fund Grantee Recipient, your donations are a major contributor to serving this cause. Your donations are giving a home.
An Investment in Youth Job Training
River City Youth Ops
Each resident in Spokane has a role in creating a more peaceful, productive, and whole community.”
In the West Central area of Spokane 25% of adults do not have a high school diploma or GED. This is the same neighborhood that is often classified as poverty stricken – known as a community struggling with crime and addiction. For its youth, this environment can breed a continuous intergenerational cycle with a bleak future. These children need opportunities to unlock their potential.
It is from this need that Youth Ops, formally known as Project Hope, was founded in 2006. Youth Ops provides opportunities for youth (ages 11-18) in West Central to learn on-the-job skills and training. Gardening, working at local farmers’ markets, and attending educational outreach programs are just a few offerings for these children to break their mold.
What started with 5 children has rapidly increased to 75 and growing. What started with light summer gardening now includes seven vacant lots that yield thousands of pounds of produce. And what once was a small organization has now grown to the point of needing a dedicated Program Manager and sufficient tools to find opportunities, measure success, and much more.
Women Helping Women, By Meeting Women’s Needs
Project Beauty Share
Deodorant. Shampoo. Tampons. Average staples found on a common grocery list or in a bathroom cabinet, these hygiene products are essentials for every woman. For many women in poverty, these simple items are a squeeze on the household budget, forcing them to go without. It is out of this need that Project Beauty Share – a volunteer-run organization – started their “grassroots” approach.
The mission: “To collect new and gently-used beauty and hygiene products and distribute them through local non-profit agencies to women of all ages whose situations do not allow them to afford these products.”
In the time since Project Beauty Share was established in 2009, over 100,000 pounds of product, valued at $200,000 have been collected, sanitized, and redistributed. The deeper impact is the intrinsic value provided through the dignity of pride. When women have the essential products they need, benefits to self-esteem, health and quality-of-life often follow.
Project Beauty Share is one-of-a-kind in the Spokane market, serving 12 non-profit agencies. As a volunteer-led organization with 21 drop-off locations serving an ever increasing demand, Project Beauty Share’s growth needs to meet the demand to best serve the women of the community. Through help from Women Helping Women
Fund, grant dollars will afford the organization their first paid employee, allowing them to meet the goal of increasing agency partners by 50% and changing the lives of more women year after year.
Constructing new opportunities for women in the workforce
Inland NW Associated General Contractors Apprenticeship Program
There’s a problem in our workforce. As the Baby-Boom generation moves to retirement, the employment pool for trained, construction-as-a-career journeymen is narrowing
There’s a problem in our community. More and more women are left jobless and poverty stricken due to lack of job availability combined with their lack of professional training.
This is where the Inland NW Associated General Contractors (INWAGC) comes in. Through their apprenticeship program – which trains then helps employ women and teenagers – INWAGC is solving both problems with an “everybody wins” solution. From March to July 2016, Headstart to the Construction Trades (HCT) enrolled 35 individuals in the pilot initiative, graduated 25, and placed 8 graduates into employment. HCT recruits individuals who are under-privileged or under-skilled, and removes barriers providing recruits with an opportunity to succeed. Benefits extend beyond the formal training and job placement. Apprentices are also provided with work-appropriate clothing and transportation as needed. Currently, HCT is the only job-training program of its kind in Spokane.
Thanks to the 2017 grant provided by Women Helping Women Fund, HCT will be moving from pilot to program, allowing them to continue to “pave the pathway” to success and help more women and children find thriving careers.
16 scholarships provided to preschoolers
Northeast Youth Center
The Northeast Youth Center is hard at work putting a grant from Women Helping Women Fund into action. Since September, the grant for Building Bright Futures: Preschool Project has helped 16 Hillyard-area children from low-income families with scholarships that allow them access to a robust early education program. This important program prepares children ages 3-5 with the building blocks that are so critical in preparing them for kindergarten and beyond. The program offers these children access to preschool curriculum, childcare, recreational activities and STEM education.
When asked what the scholarship has meant to his daughter and family, one dad said,
“My daughter is 3 years old and has been attending the NEYC preschool program since September. The scholarship program makes it possible for my wife and I to work full time along with providing our daughter with a program that helps to challenge her mind and keeps her active. I love that she goes on field trips and does science-related experiments. She always comes home with a fun story from her day!”
Hillyard has struggled with high poverty rates and low graduation rates relative to the rest of Washington state. Yet, through programs like Building Bright Futures, those rates are showing improvement. WHWF is proud to support the Northeast Youth Center as they work toward providing an opportunity for a brighter future for these children and their families – an opportunity that wouldn’t be possible without your generous donations.
Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
Hillyard Youth Collaborative
While graduation rates at Rogers High School have been rising from their previous rate below fifty-percent, Hillyard is still considered to have the poorest zip code in the state. Yet data from the Hillyard Youth Collaborative shows this unique partnership was successful moving the needle in a community that suffers from multigenerational poverty, drug and alcohol addiction and domestic violence.
Program organizers of the Hillyard Youth Collaborative recognized that they could leverage organizations and resources to create an ecosystem to provide the necessary social and emotional support to help Hillyard’s students succeed.
The HYC program coordinators set out to increase the number of students served by support services, and increase the amount of support services available to those students. Those support services spanned from basic needs, like providing access to food and clothing, to family engagement, mentoring and after-school programs. At the same time, HYC was measuring students’ success in the “ABCs” – attendance, behavior and core course completion.
The impact on the middle schools has been impressive. In three years, severe chronic attendance has been cut in half at Garry. When comparing Q1 of 2014 to 2016 at Shaw, satisfactory attendance increased from 34% to 53%. When looking at grades for Shaw students during the same period, D and F grades decreased by nearly 24% while A and B grades increased 12% overall.
While positive student trends are a huge win for the Hillyard Youth Collaborative, another critical part of this program has been shifting teacher attitudes, behaviors and levels of understanding so they can create a more inclusive environment to encourage youth learning and success.
As HYC looks to the future, they want to maintain momentum and look at ways to make the program sustainable beyond 2017.
Women Helping Women Fund is proud to support the Hillyard Youth Collaborative’s work and salutes the other co-funding organizations: Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Avista Foundation, Empire Health Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation and Numerica Credit Union.
Grant Helps Abused Children
Partners with Families and Children
With the help of a Women Helping Women grant of $21,150, the CAC team was able to perform 190 specialized medical examinations in their on-site facilities and 31 emergency room consultations in 2015-2016 – many more hours than originally anticipated when applying for the grant. These examinations and consultations were primarily girls under the age of six referred due to allegations of sexual abuse.
One such case involved a little girl who was not old enough to verbalize the abuse that occurred. Sadly, she was molested at a multi-family gathering while her parents conversed in the next room. While there were other children that could attest to the abuse, it was the specialized medical examination by the CAC team that allowed law enforcement to investigate and pursue action against the abuser. While it is difficult to imagine a need for these heartbreaking services, WHWF is proud to support Partners with Families’ and Children and the Children’s Advocacy Center in helping to make children in our community safer.
Grant Provides Vital Mental Health Counseling
Daybreak Youth Services
Daybreak utilized WHWF grant funding to hire a dually licensed Mental Health Professional and Chemical Dependency Professional to address both issues – mental illness, and addiction. Since this critical addition, 100 of the 250 girls served by Daybreak in 2015-2016 have since received mental health treatment. “As a result, behavioral symptoms associated with mental illness, such as aggression, self-harm, assaulting staff, decreased by fifty-percent,” explains Daybreak Executive Director, Annette Klinefelter.
For in-patient clients like 15-year-old Liz*, counseling services has been transformative. “Therapy was hard, intense, frustrating and I didn’t like opening up, but no one gave up on me,” she explains. “Even when I was going through a rough time, I was hitting walls multiple times a week, lashing out, yelling, and starting arguments because I had a short temper. Luckily with the help of Daybreak I turned myself around. I’m clean, happy and healthy. I’m willing to share my feelings and ideas with people. I’m open to talk about the past and things I’ve done.” Liz has since left Daybreak’s in-patient program, but continues to see her mental health therapist Sandi, as an out-patient.
In 2015, Women Helping Women Fund Grant funding also helped Daybreak transform from a co-ed facility to an all-girls facility. Prior to this transformation, there were three times as many beds for male patients as females in Washington State’s treatment facilities. “Women Helping Women Fund has been instrumental in expanding the treatment Daybreak has been able to supply young women in Washington State,” states Klinefelter.
*Client name has been changed to protect her privacy
Preschool Grant Builds Brighter Futures
Northeast Youth Center
By the time they start kindergarten, children living in poverty are already behind their middle class peers in reading and math. And studies show the gap only widens as they continue in school. With funding assistance from Women Helping Women Fund, Northeast Youth Center set out to narrow that achievement gap, by providing an enriched preschool program for parents who simply couldn’t afford to pay for preschool on their own.
The Building Bright Futures: Preschool Project provided tuition scholarships for 34 low-income children living in Hillyard in 2015-2016. The program set out to provide positive role models, stimulating activities, and prepare preschoolers in six main skill areas like literacy and mathematics. Every child improved significantly socially, emotionally and developmentally, according to NEYC. And they have the data to prove it. Assessments showed dramatic improvements in letter and number recognition by the end of the school year. For instance, less than ten children recognized the letter A at the start of the school year. By the end of the year, all of the students could identify A. Tests also showed tremendous gains in number fluency and color and shape recognition.
“The scholarship my family received was instrumental in the growth of my daughter,” explains Alison, whose daughter participated in the preschool program. “She learned so much while attending Northeast Youth Center. She gained great confidence in reading and writing along with being artistic. She ended the year with the social and emotional skills needed for kindergarten. We appreciate the effort for those not able to afford the true cost of preschool.”