Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle Programs
The Eritrean Youth Leadership and Engagement Project seeks to build a strong and enduring sense of purpose, belonging and empowerment among Seattle’s first generation Eritrean youth, many of whom struggle with integrating cultural values and traditions amid the pressures and demands of the broader youth culture in our community. Specifically, the Project would initiate dynamic Leadership and Engagement programming for 25 to 30 Eritrean youth between the ages of 10 and 18, including the following components:
After School Activities: tutoring and computer program are provided twice a week. Monday 5:00-7:00p.m.Wednesday 5:00-7:00p.m.The purpose of this program is to help children k-12 to be interested in education and excel in their studies. Since most of the parents are academically illiterate, they cannot help their children with their school work. The association feels it is up to the community to provide this valuable service. Most of the children who participate in this program are becoming focused in class and are showing a great deal of improvement in their grades.
Parent Education: the Association provides this class to enhance parenting knowledge, skills and confidence. These will enable the parents to participate effectively in the school system that affects them and their children thus support and contribute in their children's development. Parenting classes are conducted every Saturday from 3:00-6:00p.m.
Eritrean Heritage, Culture and Relevance: through this effort, Eritrean Youth will participate in regularly scheduled activities and classes on topics related to Eritrean dance, language, history and culture and the relevance to their lives in Seattle.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Among our accomplishments are the following:
- We are the first group of Eritrean immigrants in the nation to successfully build a community center;
- We recently celebrated 18 years of operation;
- We recently completed a capital campaign to expand our community center to better operate programs for children, youth, seniors and others;
- We have a long record of coordinating vital services to our members, despite minimal staffing and a modest budget.
With this Project, we seek to decrease the high level of arrests for drug and gang violence among our Eritrean youth. Indeed, in the past three years, over a dozen youth have been arrested for drugs and violence. We also seek to help our children and youth experience greater success in school and in life. Our children face extraordinary challenges—many are from families with barriers related to language and culture. As first-generation immigrants, many of our youth and families feel as if they do not have a place in civic affairs or within the broader Seattle community. This Project seeks to change this dynamic by creating a greater sense of belonging, connecting, involvement and engagement However, we also seek to enrich local civic life with increased involvement and leadership from our Eritrean youth and community members.
Finally, we hope to increase the capacity of our Association to better address the needs of our Eritrean families and the broader community.
Most importantly, funding enable the Eritrean Association to move forward with Project implementation, including the hiring of our Project Director. Funding is particularly important in that it would help build our credibility among other local foundations and help serve as a cornerstone in leveraging additional investments in creating new leaders within the Eritrean and immigrant communities. It is also important to note that funding from different sources would make it possible for the Eritrean Association to hire our full time professional staff, thereby substantially building the capacity of our organization and our ability to address vital community needs and priorities.