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State funding will allow Yakima to expand educational program aimed at gangs

Yakima Herald-Republic - 9/17/2020

Sep. 16--New state funding will allow the Yakima School District to hire a fourth education advocate aimed at gang prevention.

The Yakima City Council on Tuesday accepted $50,000 from Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, which will pay for an additional middle school educational advocate for sixth graders through June 30, 2021.

The council also approved a continuing partnership between the Yakima School District and Educational Service District 105 that supports the educational advocates at Tuesday's council meeting.

The educational advocates are tied to a youth leadership program that Yakima piloted in the spring semester of 2019. That program authorized an intervention specialist to work with 10 sixth graders at Lewis and Clark and Franklin middle schools, with a focus on helping youth make good choices and stay away from gangs.

Data collected from the pilot program showed improvement in students' grades, behavior and attendance. That helped the city get grant funding through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The grant funded three advocates to provide mentoring, advocacy, and resources for sixth grade youth and their families within the Yakima School District.

New funding for the fourth position means all Yakima School District middle schools will have an advocate.

ESD 105 will hire and pay the advocate, who will work about 630 hours throughout the school year and summer. The person will meet twice weekly with up to 20 program participants to check in on grades, attendance, and behavior and help connect the youth and their families to any needed community resources. The advocate will connect youth who complete the program to at least one caring coach, teacher, mentor or counselor.

Reach Lex Talamo at or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.


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