On July 22, 2004, Hope Academic Enrichment Center is incorporated as a non-profit organization. Begun by Mohamed A. Ali as an informal tutoring program, the center is located in St. James Place in White Center (King County). It will become a multi-faceted organization with a kindergarten through eighth-grade academy and tutoring, sports, social, and career preparation programs. The center primarily assists East African immigrant children and their families, who did not have access to formal education in their home countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia, and who are struggling academically.
Seattle's East African Immigrant Communities
Thousands of East African immigrants have come to Seattle since political unrest and violence drove them from their homes beginning in the 1980s. These children face great difficulties in their education due to a lack of literacy skills in either their first language or in English. The absence of formal education in the refugee camps where many of the children spent years made the transition to American public schools even more difficult.
Additionally, many of the children's parents are not literate in their first language, nor do they speak or read English. They are often unable to help their children with school work or to communicate easily with school personnel.
A Wide-Ranging Service Organization
Hope Academic Enrichment Center, in St. James Place, at 9421 18th Avenue SW, in White Center, assists these East African immigrants. According to its mission statement, they seek to "help the underprivileged East African immigrant children build a strong foundation and to inspire their desire for better achievement and higher education" (Hope Academic Enrichment Center).
The Hope Academic Enrichment Center started as an informal tutoring program developed by its director Mohamed Ali, and has since developed into a wide-ranging service organization. The center operates a private school, the Hope Academy, for kindergarten through eighth-grade students. The Academy opened in 2005 and now has 75 students. Tutors offer afterschool tutoring at schools in the Seattle, Tukwila, and Highline School Districts, homework assistance, weekend social and cultural programs, reading and writing instruction in the students' native languages, school readiness programs for preschoolers, computer access, and sports programs. More than 200 students are involved in these programs.
Recently, more immigrant families have begun homeschooling, because, according to the center's website, they are "becoming more cautious of how they educate their children" ("Support Homeschooling Group"). To support these students, the center offers computer access, instructional technology, educational materials and games, and extracurricular activities.
The Hope Academic Enrichment Center has partnered with Seattle Public Schools through the Refugee School Impact Grant. Through the grant, center staff received math and literacy training to improve their academic programs that it offered at several Seattle elementary schools and community centers. Federal grant funds for the Supplemental Education Services program also support Hope Academic Enrichment Center educational assistance in the schools.