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KEEN is the go-to expert in nature-based outdoor educational programming in Kittitas County. For the last 21 years, KEEN has touched the lives of thousands of lifelong learners with outdoor education programming and special events. 

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We know that school-age children spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school. Given area statistics, we estimate that between 30-40% of our community’s children are home alone after the school day ends and during the 9 weeks of summer every year. Summer programs support social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a safe and supportive environment for children and youth.

Participating in afterschool and summer programs leads to increased adult supervision which makes youth feel safer and reduces instances of being left unsupervised with peers out of school. It also means that younger children are supervised by older siblings less often. Adult supervision that is based on developmental relationships promotes positive youth development as it not only promotes personal safety and decreases risky behaviors such as smoking or drug abuse, but also creates an environment where young people learn better and are able to thrive. Working families and businesses also benefit from afterschool and summer programs that ensure that youth have a safe place to go while parents or guardians are at work.

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Our authentic learning environments and experiences feature trusting and collaborative relationships, rigorous and meaningful curriculum and instruction, and ongoing evaluation. This allows staff to address various forms of inequity and empower young people to contribute to safe, healthy, and just communities. Poverty reduction, economic mobility, and reduced reliance on public assistance have also been found to be benefits of social and emotional learning. These “soft skills” are essential for workforce development and lead to more youth being hired and successful in their jobs. Development of personal and social skills in afterschool settings that implement SAFE (sequences, active, focused, and explicit) features also lead to higher academic achievement, positive feelings and attitudes toward school.