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Seattle University



Written by Mike Thee
December 20, 2012

Seattle University is the lead education partner on a $19.73 million grant to redevelop Yesler Terrace. 

The grant is the second to be awarded to Yesler Terrace by the Housing and Urban Development under the Choice Neighborhoods program. (Yesler received $10.27 million in August 2011.) 

Yesler Terrace is one of just four entities nationwide to receive Choice Neighborhood funding. The grant gives Seattle Housing Authority the resources needed to build more replacement housing and expand educational, health and employment services for Yesler Terrace residents.  

"The Choice Neighborhoods grant is great news for Yesler residents, the Yesler Terrace neighborhood and the entire city of Seattle," said Kent Koth, director of the Seattle University Youth Initiative and the Center for Service and Community Engagement. "Seattle University is thrilled to continue to facilitate a pipeline of educational support for neighborhood children. In big and small ways our work to collaborate across sectors is contributing to a more just and equitable neighborhood for all." 

SU's work with Yesler Terrace takes many forms, one of which is the university's extensive partnership with Bailey Gatzert, the main elementary school for Yesler children. Seattle Public Schools recently reported that Bailey Gatzert had the highest increase in state test scores of any Seattle public school. The report stated that the partnership with the Seattle University Youth Initiative helped the school and its students "tremendously." 

SU is also leading the effort to develop a network of summer learning opportunities for Yesler children. In summer 2012 twice as many Yesler children were involved in academic and enrichment summer programs; some of these activities have been led by SU faculty and staff. 

Of the latest Choice Neighborhoods grant, Seattle Housing Authority Executive Director Andrew Lofton said, "This is a strong endorsement of the six years of important collaboration and planning with the community and the City to help guide the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace." 

The funding will support the following initiatives and activities: 

  • Healthy, energy-efficient replacement homes for 114 extremely low-income families and an additional 60 new homes for low-income households. When Phases I and II are complete 38 percent (212 homes) of the total 561 replacement homes will be complete.
  • Construction of the South Washington Street portion of the Green Street Loop, connecting southern portions of the neighborhood.
  • Continuation of the central pedestrian connection from the 10th Ave. Hillclimb between the Yesler Terrace and Little Saigon neighborhoods to the new Yesler neighborhood park, which will be located in the heart of the neighborhood.
  • Financial assistance for Historic Seattle for the rehabilitation of Washington Hall, located at 14th Ave. and Fir St.
  • In partnership with Seattle University and others, extension of Cradle to College education support for all residents of Yesler Terrace including early learning programs, youth tutoring and mentoring activities.
  • In partnership with Neighborcare Health, funding for two health educators to connect residents with medical services and help them understand how to navigate the medical system.
  • In partnership with the Workforce Development Council, job placement services to assist Yesler Terrace residents in finding and obtaining jobs.