Seattle Jobs Initiative creates opportunities for people to support themselves and their families through living-wage careers.
Where We Come From
Seattle Jobs Initiative began in 1995 when Seattle, along with five other cities, was chosen by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) as a part of its Jobs Initiative program to link low-income/low-skilled adults to businesses with good paying jobs. AECF had many goals including improved job training programs and workforce development system reform, and an overarching interest in improving outcomes for children and families by improving access and opportunities that would lead to economic self-sufficiency.At the time, Seattle, under then-Mayor Norm Rice, had already been making specific efforts to link economic development and workforce development to benefit low-income communities and communities of color. Mayor Rice realized that working in conjunction with AECF objectives was the answer to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act cutbacks. As federal policy reduced opportunities for job training for low-income individuals, Mayor Rice was looking for ways to do things differently. He created a partnership with AECF and Seattle's Office of Economic Development (OED) to create SJI, which would combine job-skills training, wrap around services and business involvement to connect low-income individuals with living-wage jobs.A year-long planning effort by OED in conjunction with low-income residents, businesses, foundations, community colleges and community-based organizations produced the blueprint for SJI's approach. In 1997, after another year of capacity building and pilot programs, SJI was officially launched as a program of OED. In January 2003, SJI spun off from the city and established itself as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Today, SJI continues to function as a workforce development intermediary, committed to improving the local workforce development system to benefit low-income job seekers.
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Seattle is a place of so much promise and progress, but as a City Council member I saw too many people left behind for whatever reason. Mismatched skills, early mistakes, and systems that don't work for everyone. Seattle Jobs Initiative combines whole systems change with attention to giving individuals in our community the path to not just a job, but a career. This is how we're breaking long-term cycles of poverty and we're doing it. You see it in the faces of SJI graduates and in the program evaluations. Seattle Jobs Initiative is built from and continues to demonstrate proven success.
Sally Clark, Director of Regional and Community Relations at the University of Washington, former Seattle City Council President, current member of SJI Board of Directors
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has invested in and supported the Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) for over twenty years. Our hope was to help create an innovative, adaptive and results focused intermediary same-day loans, atv accessories that could create pathways to good jobs and careers for low-income workers in Seattle's dynamic labor market. SJI has fulfilled our hopes many times over and we are continually impressed by its ability to stay focused while reinventing itself to achieve better results. Few workforce organizations, in our experience, demonstrate this combination of flexibility and high quality implementation.
Bob Giloth, Vice President, Center for Community and Economic Opportunity at Annie E. Casey Foundation
Great Healthcare Job Trends Report! As program coordinator and medical business faculty, I'm expected to keep current on the job related topics emerging in business and specifically medical business information technology. Being kept abreast of what medical employers are seeking in the way of employees is key to my ability to create and instruct in the topics that employers need and want most. Thank you for sharing this information with me.
Jennifer Evans, Instructor, South Seattle Community College
The skills I gained in the SJI program were the right skills - what I learned in class I use on-the-job. A real key was that the SJI instructors and staff really taught us about responsibility, being accountable and managing our time well. Those things are so important.
Ellen, SJI Office Occupations Graduate
I find it fitting that we have all become welders, because before today, I felt like a million broken pieces. With the help of everyone here, I have been welded back together, better than before, stronger, and with the ability that — should I ever break again — I'll know how to fix myself. Thank you.
Marcus, SJI Welding Graduate
It's awesome that you give us an opportunity to make something of our lives. A lot of us had lost hope in our lives and for getting a second chance, and you guys have given us a second chance, and I really appreciate it.