THEZONE Project (TZP): In the Neighborhoods of Northeast Spokane

Don't ask what if; we know the answer to that. The question is then how? Then how will we ensure 99207 doesn't predict the future for kids?

Photo of Andre Wicks

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

The Harlem Children's Zone inspired a conversation in 2013. The conversation for how to replicate outcomes of the HCZ was only supposed to last a year. The year long conversation ignited a movement that resulted in a grassroots collective impact initiative called THEZONE Project; involving 7 neighborhoods and over 75 organizations working toward a shared vision of changing the conditions our children and families live in that are acting as barriers to the community reaching its full potential.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)
  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Washington

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Washington

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]


Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Northeast Spokane is home to the poorest zip code in Washington State. It represents the largest footprint of poverty, unemployment, foreclosed homes, health disparities, crime, and % of persons with less then a bachelor's degree. These barriers have created a poorly networked community that struggles to thrive despite being very asset rich. THEZONE Project is working WITH the community to reverse effects of the city's most complex issues.

SOLUTION STATEMENT:  There is a ceiling to the impact a school system, health system, public safety system, or otherwise can have if the environment presents the greatest barrier to those systems effectively delivering services.  The overarching goal of THEZONE Project (TZP) is to change the environment children are coming from as a mechanism for them reaching their full potential.

TZP is located in the city’s northeast quadrant, where a poverty rate of 34.09% doesn’t begin to describe the intergenerational struggle that has long inhibited positive change.  THEZONE area is home to 23% of Spokane’s residents but accounts for 48% of the city’s violent crime and 49% of its property crime. The area is challenged to connect some of the City’s highest educational, social, economic, and health needs.  Within the boundary of TZP there are 13 public schools and 2 charter school that serve approximately 7,000 students k-12.  TZP is focused on all 7,000 students, 4,500 of which meet the Children's Wellbeing criteria.

An average of 90% of the students in TZP area receive free or reduced lunch.  The county race demographic is only 10% persons of color, while TZP area student demographic is almost is almost 45% persons of color.  The perpetual and complex issues that plague there area are very much an equity issue, with systems and policies that do not promote diversity and inclusion.  TZP solutions are anchored with the lens' of equity, diversity, and inclusion. 

TZP solutions are holistic and quite comprehensive.  TZP uses Results Based Accountability to set, implement, and evaluate progress toward goals. 

The Results and Indicators Plan includes:

GOAL:  Education

Result: Children in THEZONE Project neighborhoods will achieve educational success from pre-school through postsecondary school.


  • High School Graduation rate
  • Postsecondary graduation rate
  • Kindergarten readiness rate
  • Middle school reading and math test scores
  • School Suspensions (disaggregated by race)


Kindergarten Registration Project

Performance Measures

How much - # of individuals involved in the project

How well – #/% of participants that stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

Better off - #/% of children entering kindergarten ready to learn (Target: 10% increase by 2019)


Early Achievers

Performance Measures

How much - # of Early Achievers participants

How well – #/% of Early Achievers participants that stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

Better off - #/% of Early Achievers participants that achieve a rating of 3 or higher (Target 50% by December 2017)


Community Option School

Performance Measures

How much - # of Schools and students in the Community Option School

How well - #/% of the students who stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

Better off - #/% Students participating the Community Option School increasing their school attendance and course completion.


Alternatives to Suspension

Performance Measures

How much - # of schools with an Alternatives of Suspension program in their school

How well - #/% of the students who stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

Better off - #/% of students enrolled in the Alternative to Suspension Program with reduced suspensions (Target: reduce suspension in The Zone by 25% by the end of the 2016-2017 school year)


T-2-4 (Technical School, 2 year, or 4 year pursuits post HS)

Performance Measures

How much - # of participants in the program

How well - #/% of participants who stay in the program for the prescribed # of months Better off - #/% of adults without GEDs in the T-2-4 program will obtain GEDs (Target: 10% of Zone residents without GEDS will receive their GED by 2017)

Better off - #/% College-direct rates at Rogers High School (Target: increase of 20% by 2020)

Better off - #/% of students persisting toward a T-2-4 degree (Target 20% increase by 2020)

GOAL:  Job Creation

Result: Create new living-wage jobs and prepare a skilled workforce from the THEZONE Project neighborhoods to fill them


  • #/% of households in THEZONE Project neighborhoods with incomes above 200% of poverty


Policy Implementation for favorable hiring practices

Performance Measures

Better off - #/% jobs available in the Zone (Target 15% increase 12/2019)

Better off - #/% of refugees employed in the Zone (Target 10% increase by 12/2018)


Youth Job Program

Performance Measures

How much - # of Schools and students in the Youth Job Program

How well - #/% of the students who stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

Better off - #/% Graduation rates for youth participating in the program. (Target: 15% increase by 2018)


Workforce development resources in the neighborhood

Performance Measures

How much - # of current Zone residents enrolled in CCS programs (Target 10% increase by 2018)

How well - #/% of current Zone residents enrolled in the CCS programs that stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

How much - # of Zone residents enrolled in INAGC Apprenticeship (Target 10% increase by 2018)

How well - #/% of Zone residents reporting customer satisfaction

Better off - #/% of Zone residents successfully completing the INAGC Apprenticeship (Target 10 % increase by 2018)

How much - # of neighborhood-based work force development services and supports

Better off - #/% of neighborhood-based work force development services and supports

How much - # of employers offering internships and work study opportunities in The Zone (Target 10% increase)

How well - #/% of students remaining in the internship program for the prescribed time

Better off - #/% of number of students placed in internships and work study opportunities in The Zone. (Target 10% increase)


Financial asset-building

Performance Measures

How much - # of economic literacy and financial asset building services for the
general populations in The Zone (Target 15% increase)

How much - # of economic literacy and financial asset building services for
immigrants and veterans in The Zone. (Target 20% increase)

Goal: Economic Development

Result: Transform The Zone into a sought-after place to bring and place businesses, developments, and economic activity


  • # of businesses in The Zone
  • # of small businesses in The Zone
  • # of jobs in The Zone


The YARD financing strategy/infrastructure

Performance Measures

How much - # of new infrastructure projects completed in the Zone that will be attractive to a diverse business mix

Better off - Define and implement a comprehensive financing strategy for The Yard (Target by 12/31/2017)

Better off - # of new businesses/employers opening in The Zone



Performance Measures

How much - # of small business boot camps in The Zone (Target at least one per year starting 2017)

How much - # of individuals participating in the small business boot camps

How well - #/% of participants of the small business boot camps that complete the program

Better off - # and $ of loans to Zone businesses (Target 20% increase by 2018)

How much - # of small business trainings to Zone businesses (Target 20% increase by 2018)

How much - # of consultations provided to Zone businesses by 2018 (Target 20% increase by 2018)

How much - # of entrepreneurial events each year in The Zone through Startup Spokane program beginning 2018. (Target 2 a year beginning in 2018)

Better off - # of small businesses locating in or expanding within the Zone (Target 15% increase by 2019)


Expand employers in The Zone

Performance Measures

Better off - Implement the City’s 5-year, $90 million plan of utility, roads, and other infrastructure
improvements in The Zone (Target: by 12/2022)

Better off - # of new jobs in the Zone developed through economic development activities that support recruiting new and retaining/expanding existing businesses in The Zone (Target 15% increase over 3 years)


Integrated approaches to hiring

Performance Measures

How much - #/% of available jobs in the Zone (Target 15% increase by 12/2018)

Better off - Build and launch corridor-based bus rapid transit service in The Zone (Target: by 1/2019)

Goal: Reduce Violent Crime

Result: Create a safer community for all Zone residents.


  • # of violent crimes in the Zone
  • # of property crimes in the Zone


Restorative Justice

Performance Measures

How much - # of alternatives to incarceration approaches launched

How much - # of non-violent crime offenders diverted from the judicial system into services that address the root causes of their crimes.

Better off - Implement Zone-specific alternatives to incarceration approach (e.g., Community Court or Mental Health Court) (Target: by 12/31/2017)


Neighborhood crime prevention

Performance Measures

Better off- #/% of hot spot crimes in The Zone (Target 15% reduction by 12/31/2018)

Better off - #/% of violent crime in The Zone (Target 15% reduction by 12/31/2018)

Better off - #/% of property crimes in the Zone (Target: 5% reduction by 12/31/2018)

Better off - #/% of disparities in police-citizen contacts in The Zone (Target: 20% reduction by 12/31/2018)


Expand police presence and trust

Performance Measures

How much - # of ZONE youth served by 3 Spokane Police Department youth programs (YPI, ROK, PAL). (Target Double the # of Youth served)

How well - #/% of the youth participants in the Spokane Police Department youth programs who stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

Better off - Reduce disproportionality of police-citizen engagement with residents of so their rate is no longer greater than that of white residents. (Target: Reduce disproportionality by 20% by 12/31/2018)


Neighborhood safety – Safe Homes Initiative

Performance Measures

How much - # of Zone residences provided Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) supports and services (Target: 15% of Zone residences)

How much - # of new volunteers engaged to support ongoing Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and CPTED activities (Target 40 new volunteers)

Goal: Housing

Result: Secure and sustain affordable, safe and quality housing for individuals and families in The Zone


  • Long-term housing vacancy rate in the Zone
  • Home ownership rate in the Zone
  • Program/Strategy
  • Rental assistance voucher pilot

Performance Measures

How much – # of households in the program

How well – #/% customer satisfaction rate

Better off - #/% rental voucher success rate among referral voucher recipients (Target: referral voucher recipients will exceed by 25% the overall voucher program success rate by the end of 2017)

Better off - The Zone’s mobility rate (Target: The Zone’s mobility rate will be in line with the district-wide average by 2020)


Project Restoration/Improve housing stock

Performance Measures

How much - $ of Single Family Rehabilitation funds expended in The Zone (Target: 15% increase by June 30, 2017)

Better off – Crimes reported in relationship to vacant home rehabilitation.

Better off – Property crime rate in The Zone (Target: 15% decrease by 2018)

Better off - Violent crime rate in The Zone (Target 15% decrease by 2018)

Better off - #/% Vacant houses in The Zone (Target: 12% decrease (approximately 70 houses) by 2020)

How much - # of youth participants in Project Restoration

How well - #/% of the youth participants in Project Restoration who stay in the program for the prescribed # of months

Better off - #/% of youth in Project Restoration who improve their academic achievement

Better off - #/% of youth in Project Restoration who graduate from high school on time


Rental quality and safety

Performance Measures

How much - # of renters & number of renters evicted

Better off - Crime rate in the Zone

Better off - Property crimes in The Zone (Target: 15% decrease by 2018)

Better off – #/% of residents spending more time outdoors and walking in their neighborhoods.

Better off - Property values (Target: will increase by 2020)


Expand availability of affordable, quality housing stock

Performance Measures

Better off - Student mobility rate (Target: The Zone’s student mobility rate will be in line with the district-wide average by 2020)

Better off - Home ownership rate in The Zone (Target 5% increase in The Zone by 2020)

Goal: Health

Result: Increase the health and life expediencies of the THEZONE Project residents.


  • Life expectancy of residents of THEZONE Project compared to the life expectancy of the residents in Spokane.


Trauma-informed community

Performance Measures

How much – # of implementation partners and community partners trained in trauma-informed practices (Target: train 240 partners)

How much - # of parents trained in trauma-informed parenting practices (Target: train 240 parents)

How well - #/% of parents who stay in the program for the prescribed # of sessions

Better off - Establish and implement trauma-informed policies in schools (Target: Implementation by at least one Zone school)


Decrease food insecurity

Performance Measures

Better off - the # and/or frequency of healthy food distribution options in The Zone (Target increase by 25% by 12/31/2018)

Better off - # of new locations to implement neighborhood farming options. (Target: 3 new locations by 2017)

Better off - #/% of Zone Schools implementing healthy scratch cooking policies and practices (Target: all schools by 12/2018)

Better off - Create and implement a community policy to reduce food insecurity in The Zone (Target by 2017)


Community Health Worker model/service navigation

Performance Measures

How much - # of CHWs

How much - # of Zone residents provided CHW care coordination and community supports

How much - # of Zone refugee families provided customized CHW care coordination and community supports

How well - %/# of residents reporting high quality CHW care coordination

Better off – #/% of Zone residents reporting improved health and social supports

Better off - #/% of Zone refugee families reporting receiving culturally appropriate wrap-around social and health services

How much - # of Zone residents receiving housing vouchers by a CHW Housing Coach

How Well - # of trained CHW Housing coaches

Better off - #/% of housing defaults by Zone residents with referral housing
vouchers supported by a Community Health Worker Housing Coach


Behavioral Health

Performance Measures

How much - # of Mental health and chemical dependency psychoeducation services in the Zone (Target 15% increase in the Zone by 12/31/2017)

How much - # of partners trained in Mental Health First Aid (Target 200 by 6/30/2017)

How much - # of CHWs deployed to support care integration and care coordination for residents with multiple, complex health, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and social service needs (Target 5 FTE by 12/31/2017)

How much - New offices created to accommodate Children’s Home Society behavioral health counseling expansion (Target 4 new offices by 8/31/2016).

Over time TZP will empower its residents with the resources, tools, skills, and network to build a community of opportunity with regard to education, jobs, economy, safety, housing, and health to support a fundamental shift from intergenerational poverty to intergenerational prosperity. Activities center on the themes of resilience, resource navigation, restorative practice, and racial equity to achieve short-term wins that pour the foundation for longer, more sweeping innovations and outcomes throughout the 10-year plan. Integrated activities build the quality of the cradle to career continuum beginning with early childhood, implement restorative discipline and justice strategies, transform abandoned properties into homes, decrease food insecurity, address behavioral health needs, develop a workforce prepared to fill ample living-wage jobs, and attract public-private investments.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Mental Health
  • Other

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

Business, Faith Based Organizations, Community Health, Food/Nutrition, Government, Housing, Transit

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Once the ground work was laid for the Results and Indicators Plan, workgroups made up of partners were organized to begin creating programs to carry the strategies forward. The food insecurity work group met and developed two ideas based off models of promise; the Mobile Market in THEZONE and Green Schoolyards in THEZONE. Both programs will address food insecurity issue in THEZONE due to a food dessert. The group drafted a plan/proposal on 8/10/16 that was submitted to the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund on 8/12/16 and was funded on 8/15/16 in the amount of $85,000. The funder cited diverse collaborative partners and innovation as two characteristics that prompted them to decide so quickly.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Qualitative Impact
An overarching and underlying goal of THEZONE Project (TZP) is to shift culture, in particular how people think so they have the capacity to make better, more informed decisions about how to improve their community. TZP is a convener and influencer of neighborhood, organizational, and systems for change. Policies at the largest, most anchor institutions have been positively impacted by TZP; causing them to reshape what is best practice. TZP has created the most organizationally diverse network in Spokane County and has resulted in innovative cross-sector planning and implementation of goals and strategies.

Still in its infancy, TZP has produced some numbers. 12 families with youth (36+ individuals) have been placed in permanent housing, 400+ middle school youth have access to after school interventions, 10 K-Ready events for over 200 families.

Organization Type

  • hybrid

Annual Budget

  • $50k - $100k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

I am the only full-time employee for THEZONE Project; financially supported by The City of Spokane & Spokane Public Schools. Decisions that require fiduciary resources are cost shared, as needed, among the partnership network. This solution won't viable as the project continues to develop. A sustainable cost sharing plan is under development which includes funding staff and a plan to aggressively seek local, state, and federal funding.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

The ideas of collective impact, cross-sector collaboration, asset based community development, and crowd sourcing are not new by any means. What makes the actualization of these ideas difficult is that systems bureaucracy makes it very difficult to truly transcend siloed approaches to solving complex social issues. What makes TZP innovative isn't that we invented collective impact, cross-sector collaboration, asset based community development, and crowd sourcing; rather, TZP is innovative because we are actually using them to uniquely solve community problems, locally and WITH each other.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Complex problems requires complex solutions. No one person and no one organization can do that. The most important shift has to be cultural; systematically, organizationally, and individually we must shift the way we think (about how we do "business") so we can effectively change the way behave (decision making), so we can successfully achieve different results (move the needle). We have to: a) share a common vision, b) buy in to the interdependent and inter-dynamic affects of education, housing, health, safety, and economy, and c) recognize the mutual benefit of working across sectors.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email
  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

One of TZP partners, the Spokane Regional Health District Executive Director (Lyndia Wilson), forwarded the opportunity to me. Of course, I jumped on it!

Program Design Clarity

a) The primary beneficiary in the community are residents in THEZONE area;
b) Main activities include working WITH the beneficiaries (e.g. designing, planning, and implementing solutions);
c) Quarterly at various location in THEZONE area (e.g. community center, university, school);
d) Andre Wicks, Director of TZP and/or partners of TZP.

Community Leadership

I serve on numerous boards, advisories, groups, and associations directly involved with THEZONE area. I leverage my role to build capacity by offering open trainings, like Results Based Accountability, for community stakeholders and partners TOGETHER! We work alongside community members to give them access to the same tools we use and we do it where they are; trying to eliminate as many barriers to success as possible.

Age of Children Impacted

  • Pregnancy - 0
  • 0-1.5
  • 1.5 -3
  • 3 - 5
  • 6 - 12
  • 12+

Spread Strategies

A goal of TZP from its inception was to use it as a promising model in other areas of our community that have similar needs. I am actually making these connections with City Council, school leaders, neighborhood leaders, and CBO leaders as TZP continues to evolve and improve so when other communities are ready they can hit the ground running.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

The environment that poverty creates does not allow children to learn, develop, or persist. Eliminating the debilitating affects of poverty are how TZP helps children thrive. TZP builds a system of supports for children at the same time building capacity of parents and families for long-term sustainability.

Leadership Story

I've been an educator for 20 years. My philosophy of practice is based on servant leadership. My drive is centered around helping people reach there full potential. My commitment really has been and will continue to be shaped by that desire to help other people; how to do it better; how to do it more often; how to help others help others. I also really believe in the power of a network, which has been the driving force for me participating in this challenge. I've me some amazing innovators through this challenge who have helped shape the current version of THEZONE Project! Thank you!

What awards or honors has the project received? (Optional)

*Kohls Leadership Award
*Providence Foundation Award
*Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund Award

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 20%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 60%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 20%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 40%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 20%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 40%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 60%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 40%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 0%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 20%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 40%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 40%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 0%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 100%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 0%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 75%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 25%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

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Team (2)

Andre's profile
Sharon's profile
Sharon Danks

Role added on team:

"Sharon and I connected via this opportunity, her innovative organization sparked TZP which drove us to writing for and receive funding to start Green Schoolyards in Spokane!"


Join the conversation:

Photo of Charlotte

Looks like a fantastic program bringing together many pieces to effect real change for communities and children. I'm curious if you've engaged health care providers into your work. I look forward to seeing where it leads you. 

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