COVID-19 Updates: Education Provides a Strong Foundation

By United Way of King County Posted on April 3, 2020 In Helping Students Graduate, News, Racial Equity

Our Community Relief Fund is focused on access to food and rental assistance. Families have quickly felt the financial impact of the pandemic and with donor support, we’re working hard to connect them to what they need. 

As these needs mount, I’m reflecting on the ongoing work that donors make possible throughout the year.  

We know that education and the living wage employment it enables is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Donor investments help people be better positioned to handle the financial aspects of a crisis like this.  

We will get through this. And we will get through it together.  

These sort of investments are critical amidst the crisis and help ensure a positive future:  

Childcare. For low-income and homeless families who are lucky enough to still have their jobs, we continue to invest in childcare so they can go to work and kids can continue to be in a learning environment. In compliance with state guidelines, arrival and departure times are staggered, group sizes are minimized and childcare providers are provided the resources to stay safe. 

Early education. Each year, more than 1,200 2- and 3- year olds are getting ready for their first day of kindergarten—so they can get a strong start. We’ve been able to support home visitors with mobile devices so they can keep the momentum of the program going. Home visitors are encouraging families to make homemade puppets, turn neighborhood walks into educational moments, to bring books to life with the added fun of having a camera in the room. 

Helping young people graduate. Through our high school completion program, young people are working to get their education back on track. At 16 reengagement sites across the county, case managers are serving thousands of young people—albeit very differently than even one month ago. Donor investments have allowed for technology boosts like Chrome Books and mobile Hot Spots so that students and case managers can continue to meet 1:1 – and stay on track.  

We are hearing from our providers how tough this period of social distancing can be for people who are already isolated by language barriers and are often far away from extended families in their home countries. For refugees who have fled violence and often spent years in camps prior to immigrating, this disruption of routine can trigger episodes of PTSD.  

In addition to these continued investments providing a strong foundation through education, they are key to people feeling connected and supported through these trying times.  

Racial Equity Matters

At 79.4%, Washington state ranks 44th in terms of high school graduation rates. When we look at those rates by race and ethnicity, they’re even more alarming. 

 Each of the programs called out here focus on people of color. Our intent is to help close the readiness gap in early learning – and completion gap with older students.

Thanks for all you’re doing in this crisis to help take care of each other. We are strongest when we work together, at least six feet apart.   

We will update you regularly on the types of work that is happening – please let us know what you’d like to hear more about. 


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