Dear Launch community,
Today marks one year since Governor Inslee issued an order closing all Washington schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Initially we thought the closures would last just a couple of weeks or a month at most, but as the reality of the pandemic quickly set in, it became clear that we would be in this for the long haul.
It’s been a tough year for all of us. There are more than 540,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19, and data shows that BIPOC communities make up a disproportionate number of those deaths. Many folks are dealing with significant health effects even after recovering from COVID-19. We’ve seen how insidious and prevalent racism still is in our country through disturbing videos of police violence against Black people. We lived through a polarizing presidential election and an attempted insurrection aimed at the very heart of our government and democratic system. And we’ve been reckoning with the impact of a year of isolation, social distancing, job loss, and the disruption to our daily lives on our mental health and well-being.
Despite these very real challenges, there is so much to be proud of and hopeful for. I’ve been so inspired by the resilience and compassion of our community during these times. It’s been amazing to see the innovative ways people have come up with to connect and support each other. At Launch, we’ve been able to develop new partnerships and deepen existing ones, all of us working together towards one singular goal: to do whatever it takes to support student, families, and the broader community during the pandemic.
I’ve been awed by the creativity and flexibility of our teachers and staff as they figured out how to meet the needs of children and families while keeping everyone safe. From creating opportunities for hands-on fun to virtual field trips to trying to create a sense of normalcy for children when the world was anything but normal, our staff exemplified the very best of our values and mission.
For some of our youngest students, their first memories may very well be of people in masks and social distancing. But at the same time, we know that their earliest memories will also include the joys of childhood and learning. And that’s thanks to Launch’s amazing community of supporters.
We’ve only been able to do this work because of the support of each of you. Launch supporters responded generously during a time of collective crisis to help us raise more than $300,000 in Spring 2020 to support our COVID-19 response and ensure we could step up and serve our community when they needed us most. Thank you!
Here are some of the incredible things you helped make possible during this past year:
- We provided free emergency child care for 80 children of essential workers and low-income families from March-June 2020
- During the 2019-20 fiscal year, we provided $587,000 in in uncompensated care (the unreimbursed costs for accepting government subsidies for low-income families), free emergency child care for essential workers and low-income families from March-June 2020, and Launch tuition assistance and scholarships
- In partnership with Public Health and other child care providers, we developed key health and safety procedures in the early days of the pandemic that served as a statewide model for how programs could safely reopen
- During Summer 2020, we served 190 children in our summer camps. Currently we’re serving 265 children ages 3-12, and over 70% of our families are essential workers
- We worked closely with Seattle Public Schools to support children and families including supporting distance learning and incorporating more academic content in our programs to avoid COVID-19 learning loss
- We implemented innovative virtual partnerships with organizations including the Pacific Science Center, STEM Innovation Paths Network, the Burke Museum, Youth In Focus, Seattle Opera, Mote Marine Labs, to bring fun learning activities to our programs safely
Thank you again for being a part of the Launch family over this past year. I can’t express enough how much we appreciate you and your commitment to children and families.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel – as vaccines become more widely available, things will slowly reopen and return to our new normal. As we look forward to a post-pandemic world, we know there will still be challenges. The ramifications of the pandemic will be felt for a generation to come, and we’ll need to prepared to address the social-emotional and academic needs of children after a year of remote instruction. We’ll need to support our families who have been out of work during the past year and are struggling to pull themselves out of a financial hole. And there will be other challenges that we just don’t know about yet. But the pandemic has made one thing abundantly clear: when we come together as a community, there is no challenge that we can’t overcome.
Angela Griffin, CEO