More than $850,000 Awarded to Support Community-Level Early Learning Efforts

State’s 10 Early Learning Regional Coalitions receive funds as part of Community Momentum initiative


In its continued efforts to create a coordinated statewide early learning system, Thrive by Five Washington recently awarded more than $850,000 to help regional early learning coalitions implement strategies of the state Early Learning Plan in 2013.


The funds are divided among 10 Early Learning Regional Coalitions that cover the state. Each submitted a proposal to develop its local capacity, leadership and expertise to implement the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS),  the state’s kindergarten assessment tool, and engage parents through the “Love. Talk. Play.” campaign, which supports parents as their children’s first and most important teachers. The proposals also included Early Achievers, the state’s quality rating and improvement system, as well as home visiting and advocacy efforts.


The Community Momentum efforts inspires a “robust and strategic approach” to working together, said Lorraine Olsen of the Olympic-Kitsap Peninsulas Early Learning Coalition.


“For example, in the WaKIDS Early Learning Collaboration, we are building new relationships with school districts and child care providers to effectively partner together to help all children be ready for kindergarten and impact the opportunity gap,” Olsen said. “It is giving hope to remote and rural areas, to populations and tribal nations that are regionally isolated and typically have limited access to services and resources and are rarely, if ever, asked what they need.”


Yolanda Esquivel of the Southeast Early Learning Coalition agreed that the Community Momentum work opens the door to discussions that might not otherwise happen.


“The Community Momentum award has really helped us bring authenticity to our early learning community that supports the work we do for families and children — and also building community partnerships that we might not have,” Esquivel said. “It also enables us to have important conversations with our neighboring communities and within our own community to identify strengths as well as areas that could be reinforced more when working with children and families.”


This is the third year in row that the coalitions have received funding from Thrive, in partnership with the Department of Early Learning, to support their efforts. Thrive’s funding to the coalitions has quadrupled since the first Community Momentum awards because state and private funders have increasingly realized the important role communities play in implementing the state Early Learning Plan. The Plan calls for creating a coordinated system of services and supports that address the needs of young children and their families, especially in communities of color that, historically, have been furthest away from opportunity.


“Our state’s Early Learning Plan establishes the priorities and framework that guide this work,” said Molly Boyajian, Thrive Policy & Community Partnerships Director. “This funding is vital to enable the regional coalitions to do capacity-building work and establish – and in some cases, strengthen – infrastructure to better serve families.”


Each coalition is made up of a fiscal agent and representatives from the region’s educational, social and health organizations that serve families with young children. The fiscal agents and governance structures vary by coalition.


Karma Hugo of the Northwest Early Learning Coalition said her group has a vision of being the key early learning partner for school districts in our region.


“This award provides us with the opportunity to develop a collaborative framework for collecting and analyzing community early learning data, including WaKIDS school readiness data,” she said. “We can use that data to inform professional development, partnership opportunities and resources allocation in partnership with local school districts.”


The Early Learning Regional Coalitions receiving the awards are:

  • Central coalition (Kittitas, Grant and Yakima counties): $95,000
  • King County coalition: $92,500
  • Northeast coalition (Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman counties): $89,500
  • Northwest coalition (San Juan Island, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties): $93,324
  • North Central coalition (Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties): $81,446
  • Olympic-Kitsap Peninsulas coalition (Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties): $92,150
  • Pierce County coalition: $66,000
  • Southeast coalition (Adams, Asotin, Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Garfield and Walla Walla counties): $100,000
  • Southwest coalition (Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties): $76,178
  • West Central coalition (Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties): $65,000


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