Refugee and immigrant youth face unique challenges. War, displacement, and trauma have often interrupted the educational and social processes for youth and their families. Many refugee and immigrant youth struggle to adjust to a new culture and to overcome traumas experienced in their countries of origin, contributing to low self-esteem, anger and disciplinary issues.
ReWA’s Youth Program is committed to providing high quality, culturally relevant services that develop the whole youth. Our mission is to support students in developing and accomplishing their individual goals so that they perform academically in school, pursue their unique passions and interests, and develop deep feelings of self-worth, belonging, curiosity, and investment in their communities. Through parent education and family advocacy, we empower parents to support their youth. We believe in the importance of youth voice and choice, the need for youth to process and formulate their cultural identities, and the combined efforts of parents, family members, school staff and other community partners.
Our vision is a community where all youth – primarily those from refugee, immigrant and low income backgrounds – celebrate and explore their identities, strive to excel academically, prepare for life after adolescence, and share their talents in service to their families, their neighbors, and their world.
ReWA’s Youth Program Offers:
- 1st – 12th Grade After-school programming in 5 different after-school programs across King County. All programs are grounded in youth leadership development, academic and emotional support for English Language Learner (ELL) students, academic achievement, expression of self through art, civic engagement, and college-bound services.
- Targeted ELL academic interventions geared at developing reading comprehension skills, vocabulary, and writing skills.
- Yearly Job Readiness Training for a cohort of 25 immigrant and refugee youth that includes job search and resume building skills, service learning opportunities, college tours, and internship placements local businesses.
- Parent workshops and home visits that build connections between families and schools, while fostering parent engagement in the schools their children attend. ReWA also helps families understand the education system, rights and resources available for ELL students, and post-secondary options as outlined by their children in their Student Individual Plan.
The Youth Program utilizes the nationally standardized Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) to assess and improve program quality. The assessment is used by staff to create a safe and supportive environment, increase student interaction opportunities, and encourage student engagement. All of these elements have been shown to improve student success in an after-school program environment.
Targeted Civic Engagement Activities
Middle and high school youth have a number of opportunities to share their stories as refugees, learn about local social and policy concerns, engage their communities in major policy issues, and participate in the policy making process. A few highlights:
- Girls Leadership Group presented their “Refugee Teen Stories” workshop at both the SOWA Bridge Conference and at the Powerful Voices Girlvolution Conference.
- Youth produced One Family, One Heart, One World, a compilation of poetry, short stories, letters, interviews and anecdotes that chronicle their perspectives on persecution, the diaspora, and life in Seattle and King County.
- Students challenged the Seattle School Board in a decision that would have resulted in the Seattle World School losing a promised building and facilities allocation of $17 million. In partnership with community members, their advocacy and engagement helped secure both the building and the funds.
- Students traveled to Olympia during Legislative Day to meet with their District representatives, and to further advocate on behalf of refugee and immigrant student rights.
- Students participated in a summer-long service leadership program to study the social issues facing the greater Seattle community and complete six service projects addressing issues such as hunger, homelessness and environmental stewardship. As a part of the summer program, students wrote letters to the Seattle Mayor and testified before the Seattle City Council on aspects of their experiences.