When COVID-19 shut down Seattle Public Schools in March, teachers and parents had to scramble. So too did Seattle CARES. The CARES team had to make sure that students in The Rising could continue this innovative program online.
For two years, Seattle CARES has offered The Rising to students in two Seattle middle schools: Denny International and Meany. The program, funded by a grant from King County’s Best Starts for Kids, works with about 45 boys to bolster self-esteem, increase racial pride and identity, and improve critical thinking skills.
“It was tough for a while when the pandemic hit,” said Don Cameron, executive director, Seattle CARES, ‘but by week four, we were able to transition The Rising to an online platform. We got laptops and computers for the young scholars who needed them, and we helped their families get internet service and wireless access.”
Seattle CARES partnered with InterConnections to secure 27 laptops and 10 hotspots so The Rising students would not miss a single online session.
“I saw a lot of benefit in connecting virtually,” said Mawiayah Fields, assistant principal, Denny International Middle School. “One scholar transferred out of our school but was able to continue with the cohort because it was online. The Rising also supported families with technology needs, such as hot spots, laptop or tablet.”
Seattle CARES’ approach to The Rising uses a three-year cohort model, so students stay together and move through the program as a group. An astonishing 87 percent of the boys stayed with the program from Year 1 to Year 2. And when The Rising went virtual in the spring, participation in the weekly online Wellness Circles was 91 percent.