Successful Youth and Families

The Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI) is predicated on the belief that happy, healthy, successful youth require both strong school environments and nurturing homes in thriving communities. Through dozens of campus and community partnerships, the Youth Initiative provides youth with a pathway of programming and partnerships that encourage critical thinking and support the pursuit of college and career paths. The Initiative offers opportunities to participate in the economy as a maker and doer, as well as presenting the power of having choices.


a graphic that describes the pathways from pre-kindergarten to college and career


Early Learning and Kindergarten Readiness

Early learning services for families with children age 5 and younger are provided by Seattle Public Schools, the Chinese Information and Referral Service, and Neighborhood House. Specific programs include the Parent Child Home Program, Early Head Start, Play and Learn, Half-day Head Start and full-day preschool classrooms. Seattle University students support neighborhood pre-schoolers with early literacy and math through the national Jumpstart Program. In addition, several faculty assist with evaluation and professional development for early childhood educators.


one on one mentors and mentees sit down together at a table at bailey gatzert elementary school

Bailey Gatzert Elementary School

Seattle University partners with teachers, school administrators and staff from local non-profit organizations to provide Bailey Gatzert students and families with academic support and enrichment activities. This includes a comprehensive extended learning program facilitated by a full-time Seattle University staff member as well as university students and an Americorps member.

Seattle University staff, students and Americorps members also organize home literacy kits, English Language Learning (ELL) and computer literacy courses for families, and weekend outings to arts, culture and athletic events for children and their families. Seattle University partners with Catholic Community Services to offer a summer learning program for children attending Gatzert School.

Learning for Equity Network 

Seattle University is in the planning phase to launch Seattle’s first network for elementary school communities and their neighborhood partners. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle University’s Sundborg Center for Community Engagement and College of Education will serve as an intermediary in developing the Learning for Equity Network which will utilize improvement science to close elementary math gaps by focusing on social-emotional academic development among local pre-school and elementary school students. Learn More.

Washington Middle School

Seattle University students and staff support middle school students through the Redhawk Academic Mentoring Program (RAMP), an after-school enrichment program and Change Makers, a chohort-baded program that prepares transitioning 8th graders to be active leaders for their future. Seattle University student mentors support scholar preparation and transition for middle school to high school through academic support and personal awareness. The program centers scholar voice and choice by engaging in project-based learning, focusing on scholar identity, and exploring topics that are of interest to the cohort. 

The City of Seattle offers a summer learning program for neighborhood youth attending Washington Middle School that is supported by Seattle University student interns. In addition, Seattle University partners with WA-Bloc to sponsor a summer Freedom School for rising 6th graders.


students blurry in front of lockers at washignton middle school

Garfield High School

Seattle University student volunteers, led by an AmeriCorps member, support Garfield students enrolled in several college preparatory programs including Upward Bound and Y-Scholars. Seattle University assists in the facilitation and funding of several summer learning and employment programs including the Youth Media Program at Yesler Terrace, Upward Bound on Seattle University’s campus, and the City of Seattle’s Youth Employment Program.

Middle College High School

Seattle University hosts a Seattle Public School Middle College High School within the College of Education. Seattle University students and faculty provide instructional support, mentoring, and socio-emotional support to Middle College students. 

Pursuing Higher Education

Through the support of a generous donor, Seattle University offers the Hollomon Scholarship to young people from the SUYI neighborhoods to attend Seattle University as undergraduate students. 

Support for the Children and Youth of Yesler Terrace

One of the neighborhoods encompassed by the Youth Initiative is Yesler Terrace; a 30-acre community going through a redevelopment process led by Seattle Housing Authority and supported by a $30 million Choice Neighborhood grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Seattle University is the lead education partner on the Choice Neighborhood Grant which includes $4 million for the expansion of education and social services for Yesler residents.

As lead education partner, Seattle University convenes neighborhood education partners through the Choice Neighborhood Education Collaborative to pursue a shared vision of high academic achievement among the 500 children and youth living in public housing at Yesler Terrace. Through the Education Collaborative, Catholic Community Services Youth Tutoring Program and the Bureau of Fearless Ideas provide free academic support to all elementary, middle and high school students at Yesler Terrace.

In addition, Seattle Housing Authority employs a full-time Education Engagement Specialist to support Yesler Terrace parents and youth in navigating neighborhood education systems and Therapeutic Health Services provides socio-emotional support to Yesler Terrace high schoolers. A Data and Evaluation Analyst employed by Seattle University tracks the progress of children and youth and evaluates numerous programs.

Successful Youth and Family Impact

Square Blocks of Reach
Neighborhood Youth

The Impact of SUYI

Since the inception of the Youth Initiative, Seattle University has pursued a collective impact strategy with dozens of community partners that is leading to positive results. The SUYI pathway of support is:

  • Offering high quality early learning opportunities to dozens of neighborhood children
  • Extending the Bailey Gatzert school day by two hours for 120 youth annually.
  • Providing family engagement and parent leadership programming to several hundred families.
  • Offering an academic mentoring program for 130 youth at Washington Middle School.
  • Coordinating and supporting summer enrichment programs for over 300 neighborhood youth.
  • Providing significant Seattle University scholarships to 10 neighborhood youth.
  • Contributing to significant progress on academic indicators (SBAC tests, attendance, preparation for kindergarten, family connection to school, school climate)