Mayor Murray recognizes local partners for employing Seattle youth, calls for more support

SEATTLE (July 13, 2016) – Mayor Ed Murray today recognized the top supporters of his Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative, which connects Seattle youth ages 14-24 with paid internships and employment opportunities.

The mayor thanked the Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines, Goodwill, Swedish Medical Center, JPMorgan Chase, AT&T and Starbucks for their support of the initiative, which ranges from hosting interns to donating funds to support wages for youth placed at other organizations. These businesses and organizations represent the various ways employers can support Seattle’s youth, through financial contributions to support jobs and through internship programs.

“In a city with so much economic growth and opportunity, we can’t leave Seattle’s young people behind,” said Murray. “By providing opportunities to Seattle’s youth, employers are changing lives. I want to thank those who have stepped forward and challenge more companies and organizations to get involved. The need is still great.”

At 12%, youth unemployment is almost four times the city’s overall rate, according to the latest data from the 2014 American Community Survey. For low‐income youth, young people of color, and youth who aren’t in school the unemployment rate is as high as 28%.

To address Seattle’s high youth unemployment rate, Mayor Murray launched the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative in 2015 to build career pathways for Seattle’s youth.  Backed by financial support from JPMorgan Chase and building on decades of success of the Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP), the 2015 initiative connected more than 2,000 youth with life-changing internship opportunities. This year, the City has enlisted Educurious to help connect more youth with meaningful employment throughout the year.

“JPMorgan Chase is proud to work with Mayor Murray, the City of Seattle and Educurious to help prepare our youth for the future,” said PNW Chairman for JPMorgan Chase & Co. Phyllis Campbell. “One of the most urgent challenges we face is the need for more inclusive economic opportunity—we know that helping young people gain early work experience and build job skills is a powerful strategy for promoting economic mobility. That’s why we’ve been at the forefront of expanding high-quality youth employment initiatives— investing $6 million in 15 cities across the country including $600,000 in Seattle.”

Out of the 150 participating employers (not including the City of Seattle), the Port of Seattle is employing the largest number of youth, with nearly 100 interns this summer alone. As part of its commitment to the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative, the Port increased its number of high school interns nearly tenfold, worked with manufacturing partners and Seattle Public Schools to support career exploration, and is investing in interns’ long-term success through résumé workshops and other career development opportunities.

“The Port of Seattle Commission approved $400,000 this week to strengthen training curriculums in local schools to better prepare students for technical and industrial jobs,” said Commissioner Stephanie Bowman.  “It’s a top Commission priority to increase awareness about the opportunities in the maritime and aviation industries, to strengthen the middle class here in Seattle.”

“Swedish is very honored and proud to partner with Mayor Murray and other participating organizations to provide students in our community with opportunities that we hope will make a significant and positive difference in their futures,” said Swedish’s Chief Human Resources Officer Naren Balasubramaniam. “Our goal is to invest in these students through time and mentorship so that they build work and life experience and learn firsthand about healthcare and hospital operations. The SYEP program is an important way for us as an organization to live our commitment to caring for our communities and improving the health of our region beyond normal patient care.”

“At Alaska Airlines we are committed to youth in the state of Washington and believe that programs like the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative, open up possibilities and allows our future work force to gain valuable work experience. It helps to remove barriers for young people to imagine their future and all the opportunities that come with meaningful employment,” said Tammy Young, vice president of human resources.  “We’re thrilled to work closely with the 10 high school students we have on-site with us this summer – they bring so much energy and we’re learning from each other!”

“As an organization whose mission is to prepare people for employment, it makes perfect sense for Seattle Goodwill to host summer youth interns and expose them to a variety of work experiences in a non-profit setting.  By making their internships meaningful and rewarding Goodwill will help these young people establish a positive foundation for many career opportunities that they will have in their lifetime,” Daryl Campbell, President and CEO, Seattle Goodwill said.

AT&T committed this week to a $10,000 contribution to support jobs for young people in Seattle.

“Through our own internship program at AT&T, we have seen how training programs and opportunities to work on real-world projects can launch a young person’s career.  We are honored to be a part of Mayor Murray’s Youth Employment Initiative which will unlock the potential of so many young Seattleites,”  Bob Bass, President, External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T Washington.

Together with local employers, the City and has connected 2,000 youth with employment opportunities so far this year through the Mayor’s Youth Employment Initiative. The program has also helped fill a need for employers who need to fill the employee pipeline.

Even with the apparent success of the initiative, however, the demand for youth employment in Seattle is not being met. For example, less than half of the 1,600 youth who were eligible for a position have been able to be placed in positions.

If the City secures an additional $1.1 million in a combination of paid internships and donations, 400 more young people will be able to access employment opportunities that will have a lasting impact on their self-esteem, job readiness, and economic mobility.

“Seattle’s young people are eager to work. If more companies don’t step up to support youth employment this year, we’ll be forced to turn away hundreds of qualified youth,” added Murray.

To learn more and register your organization to participate in the initiative, visit