Summer Drills and Skills program schools 90+ youth

Summer Drills and Skills participants at Bitter Lake Community Center

Bitter Lake Community Center teamed up with the Aaron Brooks Foundation again this summer to serve more than 90 youth between the ages of 8-19 in the Drills and Skills program. The Drills and Skills program connects with students’ recreational interests while also engaging them in structured, curriculum-based activities to gain successful life skills.  It empowers youth to become successful citizens by providing a safe, nurturing environment where they will develop their academic, social and leadership skills.

Drills and Skills is also offered at Bitter Lake Community Center for free during the school year (Mondays from 3-7 p.m.), historically serving upwards of 50 youth.  This fall, the program will also expand to four new sites, Garfield, Yesler, Rainier Beach, and Van Asselt community centers. To register, visit

Seattle teens take second in international digital media awards

An image from Seattle teens’ winning video collaboration “The Questions is.”

Teens at Delridge and Rainier Beach community centers received second place in an international digital media competition as part of the 2015 Adobe Youth Voices awards.

Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) empowers students to develop digital media skills to inspire change in their communities. AYV is a global program that has about 250,000 participating youth from 60 countries. Adobe provides students with access to audio/visual software and mentoring and collaboration opportunities.

Seattle Parks’ RecTech Youth Media Institute job training programs at Delridge Community Center and Rainier Beach Community Center have been participating in AYV for several years. For this year’s AYV awards competition, Seattle teens worked with eight other sites in three countries to animate a poem by Hollis Wong-Wear, a Grammy nominated Seattle poet. Each site was assigned five lines of the poem to illustrate using a beta application for iPad.

The teens’ video was called “The Question is,” and explored the question of how to grow up.

“The teens learned to use the software and were excited by the potential of what they could achieve with it,” RecTech Site Lead Leslie Howle said. “They related to the self-discovery theme expressed in the Hollis Wong poem, and it served as a provocation for their creativity. They also liked seeing what students in other cities in the US and UK created and feeling like they were part of a larger community of youth producing digital media work.”

There were 1,575 projects submitted to this year’s awards and 15 winners were selected in different categories. Seattle Parks’ teens’ collaboration took second in the animation category.

Watch the winning video.

Arts Invests $300,000 in Seattle Youth

The Office of Arts & Culture is investing nearly $300,000 in more than 40 youth arts programs around the city through two unique funding programs, Youth Arts and Work Readiness Arts Program (WRAP).

“Every investment in our youth is an investment in our future,” says Randy Engstrom, director of the Office of Arts & Culture. “Fostering connections between our creative industries, the artistic community and our youth is what makes our city and community vibrant, vital and successful.”

Youth Arts is a funding program designed to make a difference in the lives of Seattle middle and high school youth by providing arts education beyond the regular school day in neighborhoods throughout the city. These programs give young people a chance to shine, express themselves and develop positive goals for the future. Youth Arts prioritizes youth or communities with limited or no access to the arts. Starting this year the program will reward two-year funding for selected award recipients.

Work Readiness Art Program (WRAP) in collaboration with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI), funds arts, cultural and community organizations providing programming that links arts learning and paid work experiences for Seattle youth ages 12 to 18 years old.

Two highlights of this year’s award winners are:

  • Somali Community Services of Seattle works for the success of refugees to undergo a smooth transitional process, and attain self-sustainable status in their new country. They do that by focusing on community-based efforts including education, awareness, and safety. The program funded by Youth Arts will offer 50 teens multi-disciplinary art classes taught by artists to showcase traditional Somali art forms. The artwork will be based on Somali films and family interviews.


  • Sawhorse Revolution fosters confident, community-oriented youth through the power of carpentry and craft. They work with high school students of diverse backgrounds from Seattle and surrounding areas. Under the tutelage of mentors, professional builders, architects and cross-disciplinary educators they offer students a widely applicable skill set, opportunities for character development and confidence in their abilities to engage and improve their communities. The WRAP funded program will pair youth with professional artists/contractors to work as an independent contracting company tasked with creating a beautiful, mobile home for the Nickelsville community.



It’s estimated the Youth Arts 2016 funded projects will engage more than 8,000 youth in over 2,000 hours of arts training throughout the school year. WRAP projects will take place during the summer and fall of this year and serve youth in the central and south neighborhoods of Seattle who have been recruited through the SYVPI program. They will link arts learning in the areas of design, media arts, visual and public art, storytelling and traditional crafts with the development of interpersonal, leadership and 21st century skills to boost academic, vocational and workplace success.

For a complete list of funded organizations and artists, visit:

Photo credit: Somali Community Services of Seattle; Sawhorse Revolution photo by Jenny Crooks