Seattle Housing Authority serves as a connector between families, schools and other systems of support for children, youth and families. SHA is working closely with education partners such as Seattle Public Schools, Seattle University, community-based organizations and others to improve educational outcomes for youth who are low-income in Seattle.
Seattle Public Schools
SHA and Seattle Public Schools partner to keep kids learning
Faced with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, SHA education and youth specialists, Community Builders and other staff have worked closely with Seattle Public Schools to ensure students in SHA-assisted families have food and the devices, internet access and support they need to continue learning. In the summer of 2020, SHA helped SPS host eight events designed to make sure SHA residents have adequate access to the internet and understanding of the technology. More than 2,000 households attended. SPS also provided SHA with 700 art and school supply kits that staff were able to deliver to resident families.
The Seattle Housing Authority and Seattle Public Schools have had a long-standing partnership to support the academic and social success of SHA students.
Of the more than 37,000 people with low incomes who receive subsidized housing or rental assistance from the Seattle Housing Authority, more than 5,500 are school-age children and teens. These youth represent more than 1 in 10 of all Seattle Public School students. SHA’s long and productive partnership with SPS has proven effective in increasing student attendance and achievement, and whole family engagement. SPS's strategic plan also places a special emphasis on students further from educational justice, specifically the Black student population. With 46 percent of SPS’s total Black student population living in SHA-supported housing, many young SHA tenants have benefitted from SPS’s culturally specific educational programming.
Choice Neighborhood (Yesler)
In 2011, SHA was awarded a Choice Neighborhood Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Yesler neighborhood. Motivated by the belief that success in education is the best pathway out of poverty for low-income children and youth, SHA is committed to improving the academic achievement of students living at Yesler and in the adjacent neighborhood. In order to achieve this goal, SHA is partnering with Seattle Public Schools, Seattle University, local nonprofits and others to create a cradle-through-college pipeline of learning resources for children and youth.
This is a coordinated approach to ensure low-income children in the Yesler neighborhood have access to early learning programs, tutoring, summer academic enrichment programs, college preparation mentoring and scholarships. It is based on the theory that through a coordinated, place-based pipeline of academic supports which complements classroom teaching, students will meet higher academic performance standards.
Through the program, children living at Yesler have seen educational gains including:
- Increased attendance rates in all grades at Bailey Gatzert Elementary, except second grade
- Steady progress in attendance each year
- An increase of 20 to 50 percent in students achieving kindergarten readiness
- Twenty-five families completing Neighborhood House's Parent-Child Home Program
Higher Education Project
The Higher Education Project is an inter-agency community coalition providing youth and their families in Seattle Housing Authority's public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs with services to help them pursue higher education.
The coalition was formed in 2002 to develop strategies to increase the chances of middle and high school students in these programs going onto higher education, including technical and vocational schools.
Race to the Top (Deep Dive 3)
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) selected SHA for a Race to the Top, Deep Dive 3 grant to support students in Southeast Seattle who live in SHA housing. This grant fund, managed by the Puget Sound Educational Service District, is designed to raise student achievement by investing in new models of regional community-school partnerships. SPS has partnered with SHA on five schools in South Seattle that serve high numbers of SHA students. The goal of the project is to improve Southeast Seattle student attendance and suspensions/expulsions rates by leveraging the expertise and resources of SHA, the five schools and community based partners located within the schools and at NewHolly, an SHA community.
Home from School pilot at Bailey Gatzert Elementary
Homelessness and housing instability often lead to student turnover and absenteeism, which create challenges for both students and schools. To respond to the impact of homelessness on schools and kids, SHA, Seattle Public Schools and the City of Seattle are partnering on a pilot to find stable housing for homeless families that will provide the long-term affordable housing they need to enable continuity in their neighborhood school. SHA has initiated the Home from School pilot at Bailey Gatzert Elementary, which is adjacent to SHA's Yesler community and is the home school for most of the elementary age children living there.