Department of Education passes on funding White Center Promise

“Rest assured, this news does not sway us from our mission.”

Those are the words of Promise Neighborhood Project Director Lauri Bohm after hearing the news that the U.S. Department of Education released their funding awards for Promise Neighborhood Grants in 2013, and after learning White Center did not make the list.

The Department of Education describes the Promise Neighborhoods program as “a bold new initiative to break the cycle of generational poverty by wrapping children in a pipeline of health, social, and educational supports from birth through college.”

Bohm, who works for the White Center Community Development Association and Southwest Youth and Family Services, has been the point person in developing such a program for White Center, and applying for grants from the federal government to help implement it.

The White Center News/West Seattle Herald sat down with Bohm in August to talk about the Promise initiative, a five-year plan “from cradle to college and career” to help White Center children and their families find financial stability in their lives.

“The goal is to ensure that every student in White Center graduates from high school, goes on to get a post-secondary credential, and obtains a living wage job,” Bohm explained, “and to support students and families in achieving that goal.”

White Center had to wait until Dec. 21 to find out if their grant proposal was selected (they were hoping for $20 million over five years). While they did not make the funding list this year, Bohm said implementation continues on, although it may occur at a slower pace and she will have to look elsewhere for grant aid in the coming years.

“We are starting implementation in the early learning, out-of-school-time, and family navigators areas in late January, and we are in the process of building our database (keeping track of progress in White Center, and tapping into successful approaches with other Promise initiatives across the country),” Bohm said on Dec. 21.

“We will continue to work with our partners on programmatic and systemic coordination and innovation, and we will continue on with resource and fund development. We made a promise to White Center and we will keep going forward no matter what,” she added.

Back in August, Bohm reflected on her hopes for White Center Promise and how it might change the culture in this unincorporated niche of King County.

“We really hope that the community has more opportunities, that the community has a pathway, that we create a culture of college-going here in White Center that is easy and accessible and it’s just a given that everyone can and will go to college,” she said at the time. “And, over time, that we see the families that are here now becoming more stable and that White Center truly becomes the vibrant, innovative place that it is, but even more so.”

To read more on White Center Promise, please visit their webpage at www.whitecenterpromise.org/

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