Children attending Bellingham’s most diverse and lowest-income elementary schools (Alderwood and Cordata) get to participate in free after-school clubs as a result of a grant Western Washington University Foundation secured from United Way to support a collaboration between Bellingham Public Schools and Woodring College of Education.
The program, spearheaded by Associate Dean of Woodring Dr. Karen Dade, allows children to choose among after school clubs including photography, martial arts, Lego, ukulele, tennis, cooking, art, hip hop, Club de Lectura, Girls on the Run, and K-Kids. The three-year United Way grant will bring a total of $115,709 to the project through June 2018. During the 2016-17 academic year, 54 Western students served the program as mentors or tutors while enrolled in Woodring College of Education service-learning classes or Compass 2 Campus.
Quality after-school activities enrich children’s lives intellectually, socially, and emotionally, and have been shown to increase academic success by closing the “opportunity gap.” Western students are developing teaching skills by working with a diverse group of children, and the elementary schools are reporting behavior improvements, increased family engagement, and more consistent school attendance on club meeting days.