The Rainier Beach neighborhood is served by several elementary schools, a middle school, one regular high school and one alternative high school. It is also home to the New School, a school funded by the Sloane Foundation.
Rainier Beach schools have large concentrations of children and youth who live in poverty, for whom English is not their native language, and who under-perform in school. Given the meager resources of the Seattle School District, it is challenging for administrators and teachers to garner needed resources to provide quality education to their students. Parent involvement is also low in these schools, making it even more difficult to create a cooperative and supportive learning environment for students.
Rainier Beach High School and Aki Kurose Middle School have begun to make some improvements in student WASL scores in the past two years, but are still among the lowest performing schools academically in the District. Both of these schools provide a number of support services to students, including a teen health clinic, tutoring and counseling services. The Families and Education Levy funds some of these services along with family support workers for elementary schools.
The demographic data on the Rainier Beach neighborhood and public schools reflect a community in which young people often have a difficult time finding successful models or support as they grow up. Theirs is often an environment lacking in parental involvement, affected by family financial struggles, and the pressures of risk-taking behavior among peers.
Like most neighborhoods in Seattle, Rainier Beach has a number of community organizations. These include the Rainier Beach Community Club, the Rainier Beach Merchants Association, the RB2014 Neighborhood Plan Stewardship Group, and the Rainier Beach Coalition for Empowerment. While all of these are active groups, they vary in their focus, who and how many people are involved, and what they are able to accomplish.
Non-Profit Agencies and Services
There are a number of non-profit social service agencies that operate programs in the Rainier Beach area. These range from citywide agencies like the YMCA to area-focused agencies such as Atlantic Street Center and SE Youth and Family Services. They provide parent support, tutoring, mentoring, counseling, and youth development services and programs.
Public Agencies and Services
The Rainier Beach Community Center offers a broad array of programs for youth and teens. The Rainier Beach Library is heavily used by all ages and has special reading/poetry programs for youth. The City of Seattle also funds programs that serve youth, some targeting high-risk and low-income youth. These focus early intervention, case management, support services and work experience for high-risk youth.
Churches and Faith Based Programs
There are numerous small churches in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, several of which have worked together on youth and community Development. Emerald City Outreach Ministries (ECOM) operates a faith-based multi-service center in Rainier Beach. It provides programs for youth including technology training, a summer school/ leadership development program for teens, and tutoring.
Community Development and Initiatives
Finally, it is important to note several community development and planning initiatives that are underway in Southeast Seattle. These include Seattle Housing Authority’s Hope VI redevelopment projects, Sound Transit’s light rail project, SEED housing and economic development projects and the City’s Southeast Seattle Action Agenda.