Invest in Youth is a business-to-youth tutoring program created in 1997 by financial advisor Harriett Morton. Sponsored by her firm, Morton, Clarke, Fu & Metcalf, Harriett understood the importance of a strong education in creating confident, good, productive citizens. As a professional in the financial services industry, she believed her professional colleagues would be willing to volunteer as after-school tutors and offer struggling students the inimitable one-on-one time of a caring adult.
The program developed as a way to assist students with their homework at the earliest age available, grades three through five. Tutor/student pairings ideally lasted multiple years. Schools met three criteria: a substantial number of students in need of tutoring, school administrators who welcomed the “one hour-one child-one day a week” idea and easy access for downtown employees on their way home.
Harriett began Invest in Youth with 9 tutors. During the 2009-2010 school year, the program counted 95 volunteer tutors serving more than 90 students, and has expanded to include tutors from other professions as well as high-school and university students. Initially, the program was limited to four elementary schools in order to ensure effective program delivery. Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, Invest in Youth now operates in six schools.
Over the years, Invest in Youth has added a year-end event. Materials relating to the event are introduced over the course of the year as a supplement to the regular tutoring. Events have included productions at Seattle Children’s Theatre, Ride the Ducks tours, visits to the Mercer Slough Environmental Center, and most recently, a physics experiment brought to each school by Pacific Science Center.
Beginning in 2004, fifth graders who complete the program have been invited to attend summer camp. Students attended YMCA Camp Colman through 2006. From 2007-2013, students attended IslandWood on Bainbridge Island. Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, the Pacific Science Center’s Science on Wheels program began coming to one of the final tutoring sessions to lead a science project or experiment.
Seeking continuity with students and each school’s community, Invest in Youth continues to adapt to school closures, changing boundaries and staff reassignments.