Who We Are

The Youth Development Strategy Table is a coalition of public, non-profit and community stakeholders working to establish a focused state level youth development effort to sustain early learning gains, improve academic and social-emotional outcomes, and prevent deep end system involvement.

Our coalition includes representatives from advocacy organizations, community-based organizations providing direct services to children and youth, and public agencies across the state of Washington.

The YD Strategy Table is convened by School’s Out Washington, Youth Development Executives of King County and Communities In Schools of Washington with many other organizations and agencies providing support and expertise. Stay tuned for a full roster of engaged organizations.

2021 Youth Development Advocacy Week was February 8-12 and we had great success raising awareness of our field and meeting with legislators about our priorities. If you missed joining us, please check out the recording of our virtual rally including the awesome Group Poem we wrote together during the rally. Thanks for helping us to make 2021 Youth Development Advocacy Week a great success!

If you missed our January trainings, you can access the Advocacy 101 slides and webinar recording as well as our Advocacy Week Prep Webinar slides and webinar recording focusing on our YDST Policy Priorities 2021 include improving the Learning Assistance Program to better meet student needs, improving school and community partnerships, reinforcing funding mechanisms to support the youth development field and supporting equitable state revenue streams.

“Participating in the YDST is a valuable opportunity for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Northwest (Spokane). Through the YDST we have expanded our network of peer organizations, gained new insights and ideas, discovered new opportunities for collaboration, and bolstered our collective capacity to influence decision-makers to do the right things for Washington’s youth. YDST is well-organized and committed to making a difference – I am impressed by their effectiveness and encourage other youth development organizations to join us at the table.”

-Kyle West

(BBBS of the Inland Northwest)

What is “youth development?”

Youth development is an intentional, strength-based approach that inclusively engages children and youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is culturally responsive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances young people’s voice and leadership strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing equitable opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support for young people to reach the future they envision.

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 thrive.

The youth development field includes
3 primary types of programs:

Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs)

Expanded learning programs amplify classroom based instruction, build critical life and career skills, improve academic performance and inspire youth to discover their passions. Afterschool and out-of-school time programs are other names for ELOs.


Quality mentoring is the presence of a stable consistent adult. These relationships help to support long-term health, social emotional learning and academic outcomes.


Wraparound Supports focus on assessing and meeting the social, emotional and non-academic barriers of individual students often in partnership with school leadership and staff. It is a collaborative process that integrates student supports by establishing a network of community services and coordinates supports for students directly and by leveraging community partnerships and resources.

Background on the Youth Development Strategy Table

The youth development field has grown in recognition over the past few decades, but continues to be under-resourced and under valued as an essential partner to the K12 Education system, and as the “older sibling” of the early learning field. In Washington State, no office or department is responsible for funding and supporting programming for youth that complements the school day, sustains the gains from early learning, and helps to prevent system involvement. In 2018, the creation of a Youth Development office was proposed at the then newly created Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). While the legislation was not successful at that time, advocates and partners have been meeting regularly since then to work towards the shared vision of equitable access to high quality youth development programming.

These are the beliefs & principles that guide our work:

  1. Young people deserve culturally and developmentally supportive services, opportunities, and supports to transition successfully to adulthood
  2. Young people are full of strength and potential to be championed, not problems to be solved
  3. The relationship between young people and their environment is reciprocal and dynamic
  4. Young people need to experience connection to family, school, and community
  5. Young people have both the need and the ability to contribute positively and meaningfully to society
  6. Youth development programs are critical partners to ensure that children and youth have access to needed supports

The Youth Development Strategy Table will work collectively to:

  • Advance the most critical goals and priorities in the youth development field.
  • Address the needs of youth experiencing the greatest disparities in educational, health and social emotional outcomes, including youth in foster care, adjudicated and homeless youth
  • Center our commitment to ending racial inequity and improve outcomes for children of color
  • Create opportunities for funding for and leadership by community-led organizations.
  • Facilitate cross-sector collaboration (public, private, CBO) and creates efficiencies between sectors to incentivize collaboration.


Membership is open to any organization or individual that agrees with the Youth Development Strategy Table operating framework and principles. Please feel out the form below. Members agree to the following roles and responsibilities:


Supporting efforts to improve access to youth development programming and enhancing the youth development field (not only causes directly connected to the individual or organizational member’s personal or professional interest).

Active communication of Youth Development Strategy Table priorities to members and affiliates as relevant and appropriate.

Members are responsible for governing their own potential conflicts of interest and deciding when it is or is not appropriate to participate and/or engage in subcommittee work, particularly around legislative advocacy.

All members will be required to affirm their continued membership annually.