Seattle University’s Youth Initiative (SUYI) has earned the school a top federal award for community service. SUYI is a long-term financial and volunteer commitment to the neighborhood surrounding Bailey-Gatzert Elementary (see our post from when the program began). The Initiative pledges $1 million per year to neighborhood service.
The Initiative goes beyond tutoring. It stretches into many parts of the University’s curriculum. For example, an art class last year worked with the school community to create a mural that hangs near the playfield. The mural honors cultural heroes as well as some favorite members of the Bailey-Gatzert faculty.
In the past year, Seattle University has flooded the Central District’s Bailey Gatzert — Seattle’s highest-poverty elementary school — with nearly 100 trained student volunteers. The college students help younger children with the most basic of skills and give them after-school enrichment in subjects such as science, chess, literacy and video production.
But that only scratches the surface of an ambitious initiative funded by the private university and aimed at everyone living in the Bailey Gatzert neighborhood. It includes health-care help from nursing students, legal help from law-school students, a full-time coordinator for the school’s many assistance programs, and staff and faculty support for many facets of the initiative.
On Monday, Seattle University will receive a top honor for doing so: the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Award, the highest recognition the federal government gives to a college or university for commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
Bailey-Gatzert is the city’s most impoverished school. 96 percent of students receive free or reduced lunches, and students often lag behind other schools in performance.