Hilltop Community..."The Hill"
The Tacoma Program is located in the center of Tacoma's Hilltop community. It is an urban community that is rich in diversity and often maligned in characterization. It hosts many cultures, languages, restaurants, churches, views and people of all classes and incomes. The Hill was Tacoma's point of entry neighborhood for settlements by Germans, Italians, Scandinavians, Japanese, Southeast Asians, Filipinos, African-Americans, Russians, Jews, Hungarians, Austrians, Irish, Welsh, Syrians and Poles, to name a few. The Hill currently has about 12,500 residents. According to the 1990 census, the population is approximately 5% Hispanic, 4% American Indian, 14% Asian-American, 35% African-American and 44% European-American with 34% being under the age 19.
Prior to World War Two, the Hill's business district enjoyed the benefits of being the city's second largest retail designation. But like many urban communities, after the war, with automobile ownership, relocation and, surburbanization due to fear of racial integration, loss of traditional employment sources and disinvestment, the Hill began to deteriorate. The community's image also suffered from a media-exaggerated reputation for drugs, gangs and violence. In recent years, the Hill has experienced renewed development and vitalization, in part because of the Tacoma Program's presence and community commitment.
There is an air of excitement that comes from being in a learning environment that is centered on inclusivity, hospitality, and reciprocity. This energy feeds the learning process. The Tacoma Program's high retention and graduation rate is due in part to the fact that the same classes are offered both day and night. This allows students to never miss a class because of a child's illness or work place demands. In doing this, the Tacoma Program addresses issues that are directly relevant to student needs and community necessities.