Leading-Edge Bethaday Community Learning Space Opens in White Center

Thousands of multi-ethnic students in Seattle’s White Center neighborhood now have access to leading-edge learning opportunities in technology – the new Bethaday Community Learning Center, which opened Wendesday – thanks to an innovative partnership between the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and King County.

“Equipping our young people with skills in science, technology, engineering and math enables them to fill the jobs of tomorrow and take their place in our robust economy,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “True prosperity is created when we have a strong and diverse workforce, and the opportunity for everyone to contribute and succeed.”

Celebrating the grand opening of the Bethaday Community Learning Space (BCLS) in Lakewood Park, Executive Constantine on Wednesday (Oct. 24) commended TAF for its unflagging commitment to completing the center and predicted it will benefit the region by helping to build a strong and diverse workforce that spreads economic opportunity across King County.

TAF Executive Director Trish Millines Dziko said the learning center completes a decade-long dream to give TAF the space it needs to reach 20,000 students annually with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

“We are very excited about the partnership between TAF and King County Parks, which enables Bethaday Community Learning Space to be the hub for some of the best STEM education enrichment in the county and a resource for other educational opportunities,” said Dziko. “TAF has provided students in the White Center community with STEM enrichment for seven years, and we’re happy to now be a full-time member of this vibrant community.”

Dziko said that, until now, TAF’s outreach and capacity to assist students has been limited by space constraints, but the new 24,000-square-foot BCLS – built through a host of public, private and corporate contributions and grants, including $1 million worth from Safeco Insurance – will change all that. In addition to leading-edge technology for students and pioneering training for teachers, the BCLS will provide a much-needed neighborhood meeting space to White Center.

The County provided TAF with a $2 million grant through King County Parks’ Community Partnership Grant Program. The County also provided TAF with a 50-year lease on land in Lakewood Park.

Executive Constantine said King County’s partnership with TAF will not only benefit the region economically, but helps King County achieve the ideals supported by Equity and Social Justice to promote fair and just conditions for all communities.

The BCLS will serve many constituencies through the day. Students from the neighboring Cascade Middle School will use its four technology learning labs during school hours. After school, BCLS will serve more than 1,000 students from the White Center area as participants in TAF’s TechStart program.

During the day, teachers will also use the space for training on the latest methods for incorporating technology into daily instruction. In the evening, the space, which includes a commercial catering kitchen, will be available for rent by community groups.

The new facility features four wireless learning labs, group and private academic support rooms, a robotics lab, project space, a community multipurpose room with catering kitchen, and more.

Targeted for LEED Silver certification, the building is interwoven with, and will open up to, the green spaces of Lakewood Park. The BCLS has incorporated numerous salvaged and reused materials into its construction, including salvaged:

  • floor joists from the Park Lake Homes for the pedestrian bridge;
  • car windshields in bathroom tile; and
  • fan belts in the reception desk.

The BCLS was designed by the Miller Hull Partnership and developed by Point32.

About the Technology Access Foundation:
TAF is a nonprofit organization that equips students of color for success in college and life by providing a STEM education that gets results. Through partnerships with public education, businesses and the community, the TAF model actively engages students in the real world. For more information, visit the website: www.techaccess.org.

About King County Parks’ Community Partnerships and Grants Program:
The CPG Program is a public/private partnership initiative that empowers user groups, sports associations, recreation clubs, and other non-profit organizations to construct, develop, program, and/or maintain new or enhanced public recreation facilities on King County land in a manner that does not result in new publicly funded operations and maintenance costs. Learn more at http://www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/partners/cpg.

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