Strategic Initiatives

Strategic Initiatives

The School and Community Partnerships Department has a number of strategic initiatives. These initiatives are borne from strong, intentional partnerships with major strategic partners that are supporting Seattle Public Schools to improve outcomes for children.

1. Race to the Top – Deep Dive 3

Seattle Public Schools received a federal Race to the Top grant, managed by the Puget Sound Educational Service District. The Deep Dive 3 project aims to raise student achievement by supporting new and different models of community-school partnerships. Seattle Public Schools has partnered with the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and five schools in South Seattle that serve high numbers of SHA students.

The goal of this proposed project is to improve Southeast Seattle students' attendance and suspensions/expulsions rates by leveraging the expertise and resources of Seattle Housing Authority, the five schools, and community based partners located within the schools and at New Holly, and SHA family-community site.

2. Seattle Housing Authority

The goal of the partnership between Seattle Public SchoolsKids studying (SPS) and Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is to improve educational outcomes for the over 6,000 school age students who are served by both Seattle Housing Authority and Seattle Public Schools. Currently, SHA serves over 12% of all Seattle Public Schools students, and these students attend schools across the district.

We are partnering to address and end the pervasive cycle of multi-generational poverty in our community in an innovative way. Together, we will focus on improving the educational outcomes of low-income children and youth as a strategy to support family self-sufficiency (increasing economic and social mobility and building social capital) and to strengthen our broader community.

To achieve our ambitious end goal requires taking a multi-year partnership approach that addresses achievement/opportunity gaps and promotes the implementation of policies that align each of our institution’s practices, removes barriers, and better supports students and families experiencing the challenges of poverty.

See the SHA/SPS Partnership Plan for more information, along with a report that helped to guide the development of the plan, which included interviews with students, families, school staff, and community partners.  

3. The Creative Advantage

Students who have the opportunity to participate in arts education do better academically, are more engaged in learning, are less likely to drop out of Kindergartnersschool and more likely to go on to college.


The arts are simply a fundamental part of a great public education. The Creative Advantage, Seattle Public Schools’ Arts Plan with the vision of ensuring every student at every school learns through the arts, every year from kindergarten through 12th grade.

To realize this vision, the Creative Advantage is a public-private partnership between the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Foundation and community based partners. Through this collective, we work to ensure equitable implementation of the arts for all students in the District.

By 2020, we will have visual arts and music instructors in all elementary schools, opportunities for students and teachers to collaborate with community-based artists every year, and more opportunities for students to make meaningful connections between the arts and other content areas through integrated arts instruction and to connect arts to careers in Creative industries through Media Arts Skills Centers.

To see the great work of the Creative Advantage in action, watch this video created by the Seattle Channel.

4. City of Seattle Families and Education Levy

The overarching goals of the City of Seattle’s Families and Education Levy are to ensure all of Seattle's children will

  1. Enter kindergarten prepared to succeed
  2. Achieve academically
  3. Graduate from high school prepared for college or career, and that the achievement gap will be reduced

The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning and Seattle Public Schools are working in partnership to realize these goals by implementing strategic investments in select elementary, middle and high schools during the school year, summer learning programs, physical and mental health supports, and community-based family support organizations. We are partnering to ensure that that staff serving our students have the skills and resources they need to provide the critical supports to students who are struggling academically.

In addition to the day-to-day work of many City departments in supporting education, the Mayor has convened an Education Summit Advisory Group comprised of education and community advocates, educators, and business and philanthropic leaders. The Advisory Group will help develop recommendations and action items about how the City can best align its resources/efforts and can best develop partnerships to make education more equitable. To learn more, visit the Education Summit website and review the documents below: 

Education Summit Advisory Group Draft Principles
Education Summit Advisory Group Vision and Goals
Education Summit Advisory Group Work Structure
Louisville example: citywide cradle to career graphic

5. Seattle University Youth Initiative

In 2011 Seattle University launched the Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI), a long-term commitment which unites campus and the wider community to improve the academic achievement of low-income youth living in the greater Yesler Terrace/Bailey Gatzert neighborhood.

The SUYI pursues three interconnected goals:

  1. To prepare children to graduate from high school and to succeed in higher education and in life
  2. To empower Seattle University students, faculty, staff and alumni as leaders for a just and humane world
  3. To advance the field of higher education and community engagement

To ensure a pipeline of academic support for youth, SUYI strategy includes implementing programs and activities at the four public schools within the geographical zone: Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Washington Middle School, Garfield High School, and the Middle College High school located on SU’s campus.

Seattle U serves as the lead community partner at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. A full-time Success Coordinator (SU employee), two AmeriCorps members, and dozens Seattle Students provide direct support in classrooms and help facilitate after school programming.For more information on how the partnership functions and lesson learned thus far, check out this report from Cohen Research and Evaluation.

6. The Seattle Public Library

Information coming soon

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