Agencies apply for Promise planning grant for White

The Highline School District took a major step June 9 in seeking a grant that could transform a White Center neighborhood with services "cradle through college to career."

The Promise Neighborhoods concept is patterned after the successful Harlem Children's Zone model.

Highline board members approved partnering with other local service agencies to apply for a planning grant to develop a Promise Neighborhood project in the White Center area.

If the planning grant is accepted, the local agencies would receive $500,000. So far, 941 entities have applied for the grant with 20 expected to receive funding.

If the local agencies move on to the next step, they could receive a long-term implementation grant. That grant would funnel $2 million annually for five to ten years, allowing the agencies to target the White Center neighborhood.

The project emphasizes zeroing in on one area with service "cradle through college to career," according to Highline Superintendent John Welch.

The designated area is roughly between Southwest 116th Street to Southwest Roxbury Street and 16th Avenue Southwest east to First Avenue South/Myers Way South.

White Center Heights Elementary, Mount View Elementary and Cascade Middle are "targeted schools" whose students would be served by the program.

In addition, students within the zone who attend the Evergreen High campus and others going to public and private schools outside the zone would receive services.

Southwest Youth and Family Services is the lead agency. School board vice president Sili Savusa, who works with Southwest, abstained from voting on the planning grant request. The other four board members voted unanimously to apply for the grant.

Welch noted the planning for a Promise Neighborhood grant builds on a decade of philanthropic leadership in White Center, led by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Making Connections project.

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