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.
What We Do
Seattle Jobs Initiative offers low-income individuals training that leads to college credentials in growing local industry sectors. We creatively align support services – intensive college navigation, housing, childcare and transportation – to provide participants the best opportunity to complete their career pathways and to secure and retain well-paying jobs. Our objective is to help individuals who live below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to acquire the skills they need to advance out of poverty, while simultaneously meeting the needs of local businesses for a skilled workforce.
Innovation, Research & Policy
Seattle Jobs Initiative is currently focused on increasing the number of low-income adults who obtain one- and two-year college credentials. We work with community colleges and community-based organizations to develop knowledge, tools, best practices and partnerships that will increase access to and persistence in community college among low-income adults, including those who are not yet college-ready. We also provide technical assistance to States working to build their SNAP Employment and Training programs through the USDA Food and Nutrition Service SNAP to Skills Project. SJI conducts labor market research to help ensure education and training programs are connected to middle-wage job opportunities while meeting the needs of local businesses for skilled workers.
SJI on KOMO NewsRadio