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Seattle Office of Economic Development invests $288,000 in Seattle Youth Career Opportunities

Seattle youth on a boat and gaining maritime experience with Northwest Maritime Center. Photo by Northwest Maritime Center.
Seattle youth gaining maritime and ocean sciences experience with Northwest Maritime Center. Photo courtesy of Northwest Maritime Center.

Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) is awarding 10 organizations the 2020 Career Connected Learning grant. Career Connected Learning grants focus on ensuring local youth ages 14-24 have the skills, knowledge, and networks to connect to the region’s economy. Our Career Connected Learning programs are operating within the context of two economic forces that are exacerbating existing racial and economic disparities and further exposing the vulnerabilities of many of Seattle’s workers and businesses: COVID-19 and the rise of automation.  

This highly competitive grant was awarded to proposals that strongly linked career awareness, experiences and activities for youth with future careers.  Awardees demonstrated their ability to support Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) youth who otherwise would not have the opportunities or networks to build connections to the labor markets, demonstrated their ability to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in their communities, demonstrated their ability to  build the capacity and infrastructure within their organizations to provide career connected learning experiences for youth ages 14-24 that create deeper connections to the workforce, and support youth to build social capital.

“At OED, we want Seattle youth to be able to see themselves working and thriving in our local economy.  This includes young people learning about our key sectors, understanding and building the skills that are needed, and making connections to supportive networks and businesses.” said Nancy Yamamoto, OED Director of Workforce Development.  “It is critically important to support these career connected learning opportunities because the pandemic severely impacted young people, including lost internships and job opportunities where they gain their first work experiences.”

By investing in learning opportunities for youth of color, the Career Connected Learning Grants aim to mitigate against the harms caused by historic and ongoing systematic racism that disproportionately affects communities of color. Awarded projects are aligned to build talent pipelines to OED’s key industries; Information Technology (IT), Creative, Maritime and Clean Technology. These industries provide pathways to middle wage jobs and career advancement.

Northwest Maritime Center youth learning maritime skills in a pool. Photo by Northwest Maritime.

Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC) is one of the ten 2020 Career Connected Learning Grant awardees. They are building bridges between the Duwamish Valley region and the maritime industry. The Career Connected Learning grant will allow them to develop community engagement and education experiences for the families and youth of the Duwamish Valley region. These experiences are designed to inspire interest, scaffold learning an connect the community to the maritime sector, ideally leading to living-wage jobs and careers in the maritime industry for Duwamish Valley youth. 

 “Youth of color and those with marginalized genders/identities have historically been denied access to maritime education and on the water experiences. But all youth deserve to engage equally with what we at the Northwest Maritime Center call the most powerful teacher we know – the sea. I couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, Highline Public Schools and the Port of Seattle in launching a Maritime & Ocean Sciences High School in the Duwamish Valley – a community that intimately understands the value and significance of that watershed and our waterways ” said Stephanie Burns, Project Manager at the Northwest Maritime Center.  

Burns goes on to say, “The first people of this region were the Duwamish Tribe, who continue to fight for federal recognition and against the compounded legacies of environmental, economic, and social injustice. NWMC is honored to be part of this work in addressing institutionalized oppression, dismantling systemic inequities and removing barriers to maritime education so that youth of color who are furthest from opportunity have the same access to resources as their peers in order to thrive – academically, financially, and beyond.”

The Career Connected Learning Grant program is a part of OED’s Workforce Development strategy that focuses on growing the skills of our current and future workforce to be part of region’s world-class talent pool.  OED works to build career pathways to economic mobility by closing skills gaps in targeted growth industries.  With our education and employer partners, we are aligning education and training programs with industry needs to help individuals develop the skills they need to get in-demand jobs and advance in their careers, while helping employers access the skilled workers they need to compete. To learn more about OED’s Workforce Development programs visit the website.

2020 Career Learning Grants Awardees

Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee and YouthForce

Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) and YouthForce will expand the Advanced Manufacturing Academy (AMA) program to low-income youth 16-24 from South Seattle. The partnership combines high-quality career preparation training, paid internships at local manufacturing companies, and supportive case management and wrap around supports to ensure that young adults are prepared for success in an advance manufacturing setting.

Arts Corps

Arts Corps will offer Learning Immersive Technology (LIT) Program to middle and high school students. This program provides free access to arts-based STEM learning and forges more equitable career pathways for youth in the Seattle region. LIT aims to co-create the future with young people and to actively center their voices in all aspects of the program. Learning Immersive Technology (LIT) students receive intensive learning experiences based in game design and virtual reality filmmaking, while also gaining 21st Century skills, creative capacities, and professional skills. In addition to receiving high quality intensive learning experiences, LIT students also serve as paid mentors for up to 100 middle and high school students who participate in ‘STEAM hackathons’ held throughout the year.

Central Area Collaborative

Central Area Collaborative (CAC) will receive a planning grant to develop a clean technology training program in partnership with Sphere Solar. CAC is also a recipient of OED’s Only in Seattle grant, which established the Central Area Design Review Board to give community a voice in the development actions in their neighborhood.

Coyote Central

OED is funding the development Coyote Central’s Digital Marketing Boot Camp (DMBC). The Digital Marketing Boot Camp (DMBC), which will be designed to serve 10 BIPOC youth ages 14 to 17, will be an intensive 5-8-month program that will take its participants beyond career awareness and exploration and give them an opportunity to put their skills to work in a professional setting. The focus will be on the skills most valuable in the digital marketing profession, including Adobe Creative Cloud programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Aero, Ableton Live 10, 3-D printing technologies, and other digital fabrication tools and languages (Arduino, GRBL). The DMBC will also involve one-on-one mentoring for each participant and the potential for internships, job shadowing, or other connections with the professional world.

Juma and Computing for All

Juma and Computing for All will provide the remaining portion of Computing for All’s virtual IT Pre-apprenticeship program for 12 youth. As part of the program, youth will receive a stipend, career coaching and employment skills training from Juma and earn an internship stipend. Included in the curriculum: Basic Career and Job Readiness, Employer Interaction, Communication and Teamwork, and Technical Skills that includes: Introduction to computational thinking and algorithms using creative block coding through Scratch/MakeCode game building, basic JavaScript and how it ties in with HTML and CSS to create interactive websites and computer applications, and Visual Design and UX/UI (User experience) to design web pages and applications.

Multimedia Resources and Training Institute (MMRTI)

During this challenging time, MMRTI, SIXR, and ChickTech Seattle have identified an opportunity to train marginalized BIPOC young adults to not only participate, but also become future leaders in technology. The Future Founders Makers Fellowship is a paid 8-week training, networking and hands-on experience in product design, mentorship, and tech entrepreneurship. The inaugural cohort is open to all Central and South Seattle residents ages 18 to 24 years-old who have demonstrated interest in technology, and targets Black and Latinx women, as well as recent immigrants. The expected outcome is for youth to gain industry recognized certifications, to have digital 3D product design portfolios, and when time permits, to showcase physical floating prototypes of electric passenger water transportation at Seattle’s South Lake Union.

Northwest Maritime Center

In anticipation of the Maritime and Oceans Sciences High School that will launch by the fall of 2022, Northwest Maritime Center is developing community engagement and education experiences for the families and youth of the Duwamish Valley region. These experiences are designed to inspire interest, scaffold learning and connect the community to the maritime sector, ideally leading to living-wage jobs and careers in the maritime industry for Duwamish Valley youth.


This project is a collaboration between Seattle Public Schools and SIXR, Simulated Immersive eXperimental Realities, a Seattle based 501(c)3 non-profit focused on community and collaborative productivity of VR/AR and 360 video experiences. The project will be expanded with high school programs to offer Intro to Immersive Media class and add a Launch206 experience that deepens relationship with Industry partners such as Unity Education, Microsoft and Oculus. The program will include a credit bearing summer experience , as well as student support so that they can engage in sufficient learning to earn the Unity Certified User certificate through an SPS supported exam opportunity. SIXR internships are based on student learners completing the Immersive Media curriculum. This will allow students to continue a career preparation and launch trajectory towards careers in the growing VR/AR/XR field.

The Vera Project and Northwest Arts Streaming Hub

The Career Connected Learning grant will support Equip the Kids, a virtual program that support digital equity in the arts by providing creative equipment, technical training, and creative workforce development opportunities for young people 14-24 and BIPOC organizations in Seattle. The program will be collaborative managed by the Vera Project, the Northwest Arts Streaming Hub (NASH) and a cohort of community partners including Sub Pop & KEXP.. A cohort of youth will participate in a 6-month, virtual learning program focused on inclusive creative fields viable both during and after COVID-19 restrictions. Throughout the course of the program, participants will have access to training sessions led by instructors and employers in creative fields. Program participants will receive a minimum of two paid opportunities each to produce streamable content.

Young Women Empowered

Young Women Empowered’s Y-WE Code enables underserved young women to develop college/career readiness through mentor-supported, project-based STEM learning using digital technology to explore coding and STEM careers. The program empowers young women to use technology tools for learning, career, financial success, self-expression and social change. Y-WE Code youth develop skills and knowledge through hands-on learning with developing apps, coding/software, studying robotics, technology workshops and panels with women STEM professionals. Y-WE Code will serve a total of 120 youth and 60 adults. Y-WE Code includes a STEM Exploration Day, Hackathon, Youth Leadership and Career Day. Youth each receive 100+ mentorship hours.