Issaquah Schools Foundation Programs
VOICE Mentoring Program pairs community volunteers with students in need of academic and/or personal support. Mentors meet with their students for one hour a week, each week throughout the school year with transformational results. VOICE serves 340 students at 23 Issaquah School District schools. VOICE recently expanded to include College Corps Mentors who work with high school seniors on the all important college essay, subject specific mentors who tutor students in advanced subjects, mentors for students who speak English as a second language and College Bound Mentors. College Bound Mentors are paired with students who have qualified for the state’s College Bound program. Mentors follow their students through high school to make sure they meet all benchmarks required to receive four-years of free college tuition upon graduation.
TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) is a program developed and run in partnership with Microsoft. Piloted at Issaquah High School during the 2010-2011 year, TEALS recruits, mentors, and places high-tech employees who are passionate about education in schools to teach classes in STEM subjects. TEALS is now available to every Issaquah School District high school student and has helped increase the number of AP Computer Science tests state-wide.
Academic Enrichment Grants in amounts ranging from $100 to $10,000 are awarded to teachers each year to encourage innovation, enliven learning and fulfill unmet needs. Grants also serve as incubators for new programs. Robotics Clubs, National Board Certification Scholarships, Pre-K/Kindergarten Summer School, the VOICE Mentoring Program and the Financial Literacy Curriculum for all 8th graders began as Academic Enrichment Grant funded programs.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Recently, the Foundation partnered with the Issaquah School District and a private funder to introduce Start Strong—a program designed to help ‘at-hope’ students make a successful transition from middle to high school. "At hope' students are those who are failing more than one class in middle school, but who express a desire to improve.
During the week prior to the start of school, these selected students receive a head start on the school year. For 4-7 hours each day, they are introduced to the high school curriculum, learn study skills and build supportive relationships with faculty and peers. By the end of their freshman year, Start Strong students report increased grades, fewer absences and new found faith in their ability to thrive in school. Based on the successful pilot phase, Start Strong was expanded to include year-round teacher and mentor support for students, peer support groups and experiential field trips. 98% of students in the summer class of 2014 increased their GPA to a 3.0 or better during the first semester of school.
This spring, the Foundation is seeking funding to strengthen and broaden investment in the Healthy Youth Initiative.The Healthy Youth Initiative is the Foundation’s newest program addition. Through partnership with the District and other community providers, the HYI addresses key youth and family issues, including substance abuse prevention, homelessness, bullying prevention, emotional resiliency and basic student needs, such as healthy breakfasts, school supplies and dental care.