Where and Why
The Zone Project engages partners and families in the Spokane neighborhoods and schools that feed to Shaw and Garry Middle Schools (generally east of Division St, South of Francis Ave, North of I-90, east to City Limits). For over 40 years, residents have struggled with underemployment, higher rates of trauma and abuse, food and housing insecurity, lower incomes, and less educational attainment than other parts of Spokane and Washington State.
The opportunity gap fueled by disparities in race, socioeconomic status, housing and geographic location contribute to an achievement gap and disparate health and wealth outcomes in this area (referred to as “The Zone”). The Zone is becoming Spokane’s most racially and ethnically diverse area. 40% of students attending The Zone’s elementary, middle, and high schools are students of color, compared to 29% district-wide. According to U.S. Census data (2012-2015), 39% of children and youth (5,000 kids) under the age of 18 live in poverty. 53% of incoming kindergarteners are not fully prepared for school, and 26% of elementary students are at-risk of dropping out by 6th grade according to the School District’s Early Warning System (2016). On average, 81% of students receive free or reduced lunch. Only 25% of adults have completed a 2 year degree or greater (compared to 43% of adults in the City of Spokane).
What We've Done
For years, residents in Northeast Spokane have faced economic struggles with grit and hope for the future. In 2015, The Zone Project formed out of a desire to build upon past neighborhood planning efforts with a new, more collaborative approach known as collective impact. Over 50 organizations and many residents came together across multiple sectors to develop a 10 year Strategic Plan for a Federal Promise Zone under the leadership of Andre Wicks from Spokane Public Schools. This 10 year plan is creating transformational change in the areas of housing, safety, health, economics and education by building upon our assets, partnering across sectors, empowering families in a 2Generation approach, and measuring our progress to ensure lasting impact.
Although we were not designated a Promise Zone, the community stayed committed to taking action for change. In 2016-2017, we catalyzed several affordable homeownership initiatives, funded a mobile food bus to advance greater food security, and partnered to form a Gang Free Spokane coalition to increase safety for youth and neighborhoods. In January 2018, former Spokane City Councilmember Amber Waldref was hired to provide leadership for The Zone Project, Since this time, we have established an Advisory Board and updated our theory of change to focus and direct our collective work. We activated a successful summer learning initiative in 2018 and are building a multi-year plan to support cradle to career pathways inside/outside the classroom with both kids and parents/caregivers at the center.
Theory of Change
2Generation: Supporting and aligning programs that provide high-quality early childhood and K-12 education simultaneously with adult human capital development, fostering parenting capacity, family health, and whole family economic success.
Focused on equity: overcoming racial and economic inequities and ensuring all people have access to opportunity in Northeast Spokane neighborhoods.
Mentoring and empowering youth and families as partners, not clients.
Sharing information and tracking measurable outcomes for both kids and parents.
Holistic approach, with multiple cross-sector strategies and supports to achieve family & neighborhood goals for housing, education, employment, safety and health.
Building and aligning current community investments, assets and capacity before developing new programs.
Innovative and Adaptive. Using learning and evaluation for continuous improvement. Trying multiple approaches to reach desired outcomes. Adaptability of best practices