Photo Credit: Urban Family

The Renton Innovation Zone Partnership (RIZP) is a community collaborative that works to connect students and families with basic needs, early learning opportunities and community and family engagement resources for the most vulnerable families that reside in Skyway/West Hill and Renton Highlands. While working with community-based organizations, the RIZP cultivates partnerships that help to improve student learning for children that attend Bryn Mawr, Campbell Hill, Lakeridge and Highlands elementary schools.

Since COVID-19, the RIZP has been working collaboratively with partners to respond to the needs of their community. Without question, this unprecedented time and the response efforts surrounding it have  altered the way we live, learn and work. Despite the unfortunate, many community-based organizations have worked hard and tirelessly to provide support for families and individuals in need. From supplying personal protective equipment, to offering virtual kindergarten registration, to providing diapers, fresh food, gift cards, and canned goods to playing upbeat music and distributing tangible resources in neighborhoods; organizations have come together to help bring light to families in Skyway neighborhoods and in the Renton Highlands.

Photo Credit: RIZP

“In terms of COVID-19, communities such as Skyway and Renton Highlands are impacted at a much higher rate than others. This is due to our communities having underlying health conditions, and outreach about COVID not being focused on us. Providing gloves and masks to people in our short interactions is a way to keep our families and most vulnerable safe,” says Ryan Quigtar, the Executive Director of the RIZP.

As we’re approaching week 14 of the School Closure order issued by Governor Jay Inslee; there has been an abundance of support for those who have been affected. In an effort to support people who are sick, disabled, quarantined without pay, elderly, undocumented, indigenous and people of color, community collaborative organizations have been working to support just about everyone.

Photo Credit: Somali Youth & Family Club

Organizations such as the RIZP, Somali Parent Education Board (SPEB), Urban Family, Sunset Community Church, Communities in Schools-Renton/Tukwila, Highlands Elementary, Somali Youth & Family Club (SYFC), and the Renton School District have supported families and students that are most in need.

Collectively, in both Skyway/West Hill and in the Renton Highlands, the listed organizations have assisted nearly 12,000 individuals with the help of over 600 community volunteers. Most organizations offer weekly food distribution locations, resource guides, financial assistance, social and emotional assistance, gift cards, personal protective kits, essential items such as toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitizer and more. Other organizations offer food drop off services, care packages, virtual learning opportunities, weekly virtual gaming sessions for kids, weekly bagged lunch meals and counseling referral services.

Photo Credit: Communities in Schools – Renton/Tukwila

Founder & CEO, Paul Patu of Urban Family; an organization that focuses on building a web of care and support around marginalized urban youth and families, said “we’re a comforting presence; we’re building a support base for families. During this time, we asked how do we get people to a place where they can rebuild again?”

Working collaboratively, there are plans in the coming month for the organizations to host a Drive-Through Summer Event that will include: fresh produce boxes, mental health resources, a live dunk tank, music, water balloons, take-away games and Math/STEM toolkits for children, swag bags, outdoor activities, Census & Voting resources, and much more. In respect to social distancing, each organization hopes to create a fun-filled way to kick-off the summer despite living through a global pandemic.

Photo Credit: Sunset Community Church

During a health-related outbreak like the COVID-19, the RIZP continues to act out of an abundance of caution to protect everyone’s health and well-being. As they’re working to support families and students during this time, the RIZP and its community partners continue to make the decisions that are in the best interest of their health, and  strongly encourage the continued support for those that are most in need.

We’re physically distant, but not socially distant. We want families to know that if they need help or support, let us know,” says Pastor Andrew Fouche’ of Sunset Community Church.