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, wraparound 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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What We Do
Get the latest news about SJI’s regional services programs, policy and research, as well as our national consulting and technical assistance work. Read our blog here!
SJI offers low-income individuals career-start technical and performance skills training that leads to a career pathway in growing local industry sectors. We creatively align support services – such as career navigation, housing, childcare and transportation – to provide participants the best opportunity to complete their career pathways and to secure and retain well-paying jobs. Individuals 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 conduct 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 engages its partners as a learning community to explore best practices and strategies to meet the needs of populations with high needs. Through these convenings, SJI has provided leadership in the development of career navigation, performance skills curriculum, stress management coaching, cohort training models to meet the needs of targeted populations and other thoughtful interventions to support participants in training and job retention. Current SJI community learning partners, include Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Neighborhood House, Pacific Associates, Partner in Employment, Pioneer Human Services and TRAC Associates.
Consulting Professional Services
SJI provides technical assistance to States, Counties, systems and providers working to build SNAP Employment and Training programs (SNAP E&T), including through direct engagement by these entities as well as through our partnership with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to operate the SNAP to Skills Project. SJI additionally offers consulting and technical assistance in program design, process improvement, labor market and other research, and program evaluation.