A total of $14.2 million awarded to 447 youth development
across Washington state.

The Washington Youth Development Nonprofit Relief Fund was initially made possible by the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) and was led by School’s Out Washington working closely with the Washington State Department of Commerce. This investment addresses the financial and programmatic challenges that have come with COVID-19—acknowledging that lost revenue combined with increased expenses to adhere to new safety measures, leave many organizations at risk of closing their programs or sites. A total of $9.4 million was awarded in fall 2020 and an additional $4.8 million in spring 2021 to a subset of organizations who submitted applications the prior year. 


View the list of fall 2020 awardees and spring 2021 awardees.


About the process

The Washington State Department of Commerce  chose to work with School’s Out Washington  because of our field expertise, equity lens, grant-making experience, and capacity to lead a complex process on an unusually fast timeline. The process was designed to break down barriers to funding for grassroots organizations around the state that directly support BIPOC youth, youth in poverty, and other priority youth populations.

Fall 2020

The RFP was released on September 23, and over 600 applications were received by the deadline on October 6. The RFP was translated into 13 languages. Technical assistance was provided by contractors who partnered with the Department of Commerce to support applicants from every region in the state.

Peer reviewers  from communities throughout  Washington were recruited to read and score applications.

  • 112 reviewers were selected from over 200 who expressed interest
  • 55% of these reviewers identified as BIPOC
  • 84% reported having lived experiences/identities connected to BIPOC youth and youth in poverty
  • About a dozen youth/young adults were engaged as reviewers

All reviewers were required to participate in anti-bias training and to examine the approach to application review, using the scoring rubric.

Spring 2021

In the spring of 2021, the Washington State Department of Commerce and School’s Out Washington worked together to allocate $4.8 million in additional funding to support investments in 223 youth development organizations/programs across Washington. The additional funds were awarded to a subset of organizations that submitted applications to the Washington Nonprofit Youth Development Relief Fund in the fall of 2020, in keeping with the priorities of the Relief Fund.

Learn more about the spring 2021 award process.


About the grantees

The COVID-19 outbreak, extended school closures, and social distancing have deepened inequities and hardships for young people across Washington. In response, youth development programs quickly adapted their services to provide supports for youth and families to whom they are deeply connected. Expanded or adapted offerings have included emergency childcare, social-emotional supports, academic mentoring, virtual programming, and basic needs supports. For many, these organizations have been a sustaining lifeline.

By providing access to essential services and pivoting to offer expanded learning opportunities online, they have helped ensure that children and young people remain safe, engaged and supported.

On average, 88% of youth served by awardees are in the Relief Fund’s priority populations (including BIPOC, LGBTQ, migrant/immigrant, youth experiencing homelessness and youth in poverty) and 48% report serving 100% priority youth.


  • 83% include a focus on BIPOC youth and 90% include a focus on youth in poverty
  • 84% provide expanded learning opportunities, 76% provide mentoring, and 60% provide wrap around services
  • 78% serve children between ages 5-12; 86% serve youth between 13-18; and 51% serve young adults between ages 19-24



"As far as we’ve come together in combating COVID-19, we still have a long way to go. Nonprofit organizations are absolutely crucial for supporting and lifting up the children and youth most at risk of falling behind or suffering the physical and emotional impacts of this pandemic. But our community organizations can’t do their work without funding. We are in this together, and these grants are one way we can help keep our communities strong. "
Lisa Brown—Director
Washington State Department of Commerce
"We really took a dive in the deep end and made a bunch of purchases and hires to make sure our kids could stay connected to class and curriculum during the pandemic. That includes some students in foster care or experiencing homelessness. This is going to go a long way in helping us out and to keeping kids connected to learning!"
Jon Luther, Development Specialist
Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center
"School’s Out Washington is dedicated to supporting and championing the work of youth development providers. But it was these organizations—in this moment— that demonstrated so clearly their essential role in the ecosystem of support for young people in our state. We hope this influx of financial resources helps them to maintain, recover and ultimately thrive. "
Elizabeth Whitford—CEO
School’s Out Washington


October 6, 2020

RFP closed

November 2020

Awards announced

December 2020

Payments issued
Youth Development includes three primary types of programs: 1) Expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) such as afterschool and summer programs 2) Mentoring 3) Wrap-around services that connect youth with social-emotional and non-academic supports integrated within a school setting. Youth development programs emphasize the importance of meeting young people where they are- physically, academically, socially and emotionally – to help them build the relationships, competencies, and confidence they need to reach their full potential.
The application for Relief Fund grants is brief, and online. Eligible applicants will need to provide demographic information on their programs/organizations and answer three questions through fill-in fields and brief narrative. The questions address 1) youth served in priority populations; 2) programs’/organizations’ staff and leadership; and 3) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of grants awarded will depend on multiple factors, including: the total number of applications received; financial information included in the applications; equitable representation among priority populations statewide; and equitable geographic distribution.
To be eligible to apply for funding, programs/organizations must be a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization or be fiscally sponsored by a 501 (c)(3). SOWA will verify 501 (c)(3) nonprofit tax status on all programs/organizations selected for funding, before actual grant awards are made. Programs/organizations that apply through a fiscal sponsor will be required to upload verification of the fiscal sponsorship in the online application.
Grant sizes will range from $10,000 to $50,000. There will be no grants smaller than $10,000 and no grants larger than $50,000.
The online application must be submitted by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.