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Transforming how the region funds employment and job training to connect more people to high-demand careers

From King County Executive Dow Constantine’s news release

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan are transforming how the region funds employment and job training, uniting the efforts of local governments, businesses, labor and philanthropies to connect more people to high-demand jobs.

Here are highlights of the transformation:

  • Prioritize employment and training for those who face the most barriers to opportunity.
  • Improve coordination between employers, labor, and educators to make sure job seekers are prepared for the best career opportunities available right now.
  • Better align local, federal, and philanthropic funding to maximize the impact and produce better results.

“We brought together businesses, labor, philanthropies, and educators to transform the local workforce system so we can connect more people to good-paying jobs available right here, right now,” said Executive Constantine. “Together, we will remove barriers to opportunity so that more of our neighbors can participate in our region’s historic job growth, providing local employers with the well-trained talent they need to compete in the global economy.”

“This is another step forward in our work to build a regional economy that has true opportunity for all,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “Working with our businesses and partners across the region, we will keep investing in education and training to connect workers with the good-paying jobs of the future and building a world-class workforce.”


By better aligning local and federal funding through the Workforce Development Council, the new approach will maximize the $8 million in federal funds the council receives each year for employment and training. As a first step, the Workforce Development Council is awarding a combined $2.7 million this week to community-based organizations to help them connect more people to employment services.  

The model builds on the progress the region has made over the past two years by creating a single strong board that unites workforce partners and funding, prioritizing funding that promotes racial equity.

Local leaders also announced a new alliance of philanthropic organizations – including Ballmer Group, Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Seattle Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase – that will support the region’s new workforce strategy.

Connecting more people to the region’s thriving economy

While the region’s economy is strong, certain populations still have disproportionately high unemployment rates, including Latinx, Native American, and African-American populations, people with disabilities, and people reentering the workforce after incarceration. The grant funding announced today is being awarded to community-based organizations that are working to promote racial equity in the region.

The $2.7 million in grants announced today includes federal funding and more than $800,000 generated by King County’s Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. Each of the grants can may be renewed for up to two additional years, pending fund availability. The Workforce Development Council awarded the funding to five agencies, four of which are working with a consortia of organizations, that include a total of 14 community-based organizations that will help people who are currently underserved by workforce programs. Here are a few examples:

  • YWCA will partner with Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle to provide intensive and customized career development services to African-Americans, the chronically and long term unemployed, and individuals with criminal justice involvement.
  • Pacific Associates, in partnership with Alliance of People with DisAbilities and POCAAN will provide employment, career guidance, support services, emotional support, retraining and follow-up services to people with disabilities who want to return to work.
  • TRAC Associates will partner with Pioneer Human Services to provide clients coming out of incarceration access to their Roadmap to Success class, a cognitive behavior curriculum from The Pacific Institute that was written for people who have experienced incarceration. Pioneer staff will also provide supportive services such as help accessing a driver’s license, transit passes, and interview and work clothes.

The strategies funded by these grants were informed by input King County, City of Seattle, and Workforce Development Council received when they partnered with community leaders to apply an equity lens. As a result, many of the organizations that successfully competed for funding are led by people of color.

King County, City of Seattle, and Workforce Development Council will create a community advisory committee to ensure that communities of color are able to provide input on the priorities for this type of competitive funding. It will be the first advisory of its kind in the nation.

Tapping into a national network of philanthropic funders

The newly formed Funders Collaborative is a local alliance of philanthropic organizations that includes Ballmer Group, Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Seattle Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase. It is affiliated with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which makes it possible for the region to tap into this national network of philanthropic organizations.

This will diversify the funding portfolio for the Workforce Development Council, which currently relies almost exclusively on federal funding.

JP Morgan Chase today announced a $600,000 grant to the Workforce Development Council that will strengthen partnerships with industry partners to make sure employment and training programs provide people with the skills that employers need by expanding the nationally recognized Next Generation Sector Partnership model. As part of their renewed New Skills at Work initiative, JPMorgan Chase will invest $350 million globally to develop, test and scale innovative efforts that prepare individuals with the skills they need to be successful in a rapidly changing economy.

The Next Generation Sector Partnership model was piloted in the local healthcare sector – the Seattle-King County Healthcare Industry Leadership Table, or HILT – with support from Seattle Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, Ballmer Group, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. It will be scaled to two additional industries through the JP Morgan Chase grant.

Unlike the old model in which employers worked individually with multiple support organizations, the new the model organizes the many education, training and economic development entities into a coordinated response team, making it possible for employers to partner with a single group to ensure that job training programs prepare students for the current job market.

Kaiser Permanente also announced a $350,000 grant to the Workforce Development Council. The grant will connect more low-income youth to high-demand registered apprenticeship pathways in partnership with Puget Sound Educational Service District, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Seattle Education Access, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as well as South King County school districts, and community colleges.