Seattle Youth Employment Initiative celebrates employers and youth

Thousands of youth were offered employment opportunities with private and public sector employers across the city through Seattle’s Youth Employment Initiative in 2018. The program has provided 9,624 paid internships for low-income and marginalized young people in the past three years.

“I want to thank all the employers and young people who participated in the Seattle Youth Employment Initiative,” said Rebecca Lovell, Acting Director of the Seattle Office of Economic Development said. “Investing in young workers is a win-win. Employers have an opportunity to mentor their future employees, and young people are better positioned for a healthier, more financially secure future.”

“We are committed to ensuring youth have a window into the economy, through career-connected learning, exploration, and experiences,” Rebecca Lovell, Acting Director of the Seattle Office of Economic Development continued. “We are fortunate to partner with employers who have committed to developing their future workforce, in part through engaging youth in summer employment. Along with our partners, we are focused on ensuring young people of color have equitable access to such opportunities as early as possible.”

To support the effort, JPMorgan Chase awarded the City of Seattle $100,000 this year to fund youth internships and the City’s program that helps recruit employers. With this year’s donation, JPMorgan Chase has now donated $1 million over the last five years.

As a first-time funder this year, Bank of America joined the City’s youth employment efforts and invested $50,000 in support. Bank of America also supports the initiative through employing interns at a number of Seattle-based financial centers.

Swedish Hospital contributed $30,000 to host interns at its offices this year. Other donors include the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Google, and the Seattle Music Commission.

Through the Youth Employment Initiative, eligible youth and young adults are connected with paid work experience in positions at various City departments and other public and private sector placements based on their career interests. The City is also collaborating with partners to provide other creative career exploration activities for young people, where students have the opportunity to learn about potential jobs and network with employers and workers.

Youth employment provides skills necessary for young people who otherwise would be left out of the labor market and has been shown to have positive effects on lifetime employment, earnings, and net worth.  Internships also help young people build a network of caring adults, practice employment skills in a supported environment and connect their education to career goals. This is particularly critical for marginalized and low-income youth, who may lack family or community networks to help guide them towards a successful career.

“Youth employment is a platform for the future, and JPMorgan Chase is committed to helping organizations make long-term investments in increasing the number of job opportunities available to our local youth. We feel our support of the Mayor’s summer youth employment program is an important way we are helping to build the long-term success of the local economy,” said JPMorgan Chase Chairman of the Pacific Northwest, Phyllis Campbell. ”We take great pride in our history of supporting organizations and programs that strengthen access to opportunities for youth and we commend the important work of the summer youth employment program.”

Partnering with the Seattle Youth Employment Initiative is part of Bank of America’s $40 million commitment to reach 100,000 young adults with job skills and employment experiences,” said Kerri Schroeder, Seattle Market President, Bank of America. “Youth unemployment limits income mobility well into adulthood, so we’re excited this program targets historically underserved youth and young adults in Seattle and provides a unique opportunity to build their resumes, serving as a catalyst for future economic success and mobility, as well as advancing the long-term success of our community.”

Last year, over 3,000 local youth were employed at organizations and companies across the city through Seattle’s Youth Employment Initiative. This year we expect to serve approximately 4,000 youth.

For employers who are interested in working with the City of Seattle to help young people reach their full potential, reach out to

Collaboration and community: Recent highlights from the Office of Economic Development

With the first half of 2018 in the rear-view mirror, we’d like to look back at some highlights of the last few months as we look forward to supporting you in your business and in your career.

Our teams have been hard at work for you in the community; we are pleased to report that as of mid-June, the combined efforts of our Small Business and Key Sector teams have directly provided services to 503 businesses. Our “Only in Seattle” team, through community partners, served an additional 374 businesses. In addition to individual contacts, read on for just a few examples of community convenings in which our office is engaged.

Africatown Innovation District Lunch and Learn:  In June, we were delighted to host Africatown in the Bertha Knight Landes Room of City Hall, where over 30 community and corporate leaders met to explore available resources and programs in support of a robust innovation district in the Central District. With a shared goal of preparing underrepresented youth for meaningful careers in IT and the creative economy, participants mapped current efforts, reflected on what is and isn’t working, and articulated their commitment to a more equitable tech economy. We thank GeekWire, Microsoft, HTC, HEREseattle, Seattle Colleges, Vulcan, Social Venture Partners and our City colleagues in Arts, IT, and Planning and Development for their time and energy. We look forward to next steps!


Peer Networking Event on Commercial Affordability: In our work with the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council, market and systemic pressures continue to make commercial affordability a significant challenge facing small businesses. In May, we convened about 15 business district managers from across Seattle at a local startup firm – Blokable – to discuss commercial affordability. The Office of Economic Development’s (OED) Only in Seattle, Small Business Development and Key Sectors teams, in partnership with the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDPDA) and Onpoint Real Estate Services, organized this peer networking event to share a model for commercial lease education workshops in Chinatown ID and Little Saigon, vet innovative solutions for affordable commercial space, and make connections between business districts.


Summer Youth Employment Experiences: As a part of our office’s efforts to provide a continuum of career-connected learning and work experiences for Seattle’s youth, every summer, employers across the public, private and non-profit sectors in Seattle open their doors to thousands of youth interns. We thank the private sector donors who have together contributed over $150,000 to support youth employment this year, and in particular, our valued partner JPMorgan Chase, who through five years of cumulative support, surpassed the $1 million mark in 2018!

Given our focus on equitable access and prioritization of under-served communities, including young women and people of color, we are thrilled to spotlight Zilllow Group’s “Shadow an Intern” event at their downtown headquarters. To better enable high school students to envision their careers and set themselves up for success, youth from TAF AcademyYWCA, and the Seattle Housing Authority enjoyed personalized tours of the Zillow office, and a panel focused on career development tips.

Until the fall, stay tuned to the Bottom Line Blog for updates, but in the meantime, please feel free to contact me if our office may better support you in your business and career!

Zillow Group’s Shadow an Intern Day inspires youth to think creatively about their careers

A Zillow Group employee leads a student tour.

This summer, Zillow Group hosted an innovative new event for local high school students aimed at helping kids envision their future careers and learn skills to set themselves up for success. The “Shadow an Intern” event brought high schoolers from TAF Academy, YWCA, and the Seattle Housing Authority to Zillow Group’s downtown headquarters.

“Giving back to the community where we live and work is an important part of who we are at Zillow Group,” said Samantha Tripoli, Social Impact Manager, Zillow Group. “By hosting students from a variety of organizations across the area – including our Home Project partner Seattle Housing Authority – it is our goal to introduce them to careers in STEM that are within their reach, right here in their backyard.”

To start the day, the kids split into groups and paired up with current Zillow Group interns and employees who guided their groups up and down the tower of office space, answering questions and introducing staff from teams across the company. Meeting the different departments gave students the chance to see the breadth of their career options at a big company like Zillow Group—they could be a storyteller on the communications team, a hacker with the security team, an economist on the data analysis team, an event planner on the facilities team, and much more.

A panel of Zillow Group employees presents to the group of students.

The tour was followed by a short panel with a few Zillow Group employees who shared their career stories and advice on looking for jobs. One panelist encouraged students to get to know people in companies or industries that they are interested in, since having a connection can help get one name to the top of a stack of hundreds of applications. Another advised the youth to “spend a lot of time prepping for interviews, get to know the company,” speaking to her own experience in what she looked for as a hiring manager.

After lunch, the kids split into groups again for an afternoon spent working on a new product and designing a website to market their idea. Working with a Zillow Group staff member, the students came up with a concept for a new home product, created a prototype, and prepared a three-minute commercial. The students then got a crash course in coding by working one-on-one with a Zillow Group intern to build a webpage for their new product.

The high schoolers ended their day by reflecting on what they learned and thinking about what job they would want at Zillow Group. (After a day spent looking out at the tower’s Elliot Bay views, plus the never-ending snacks from Zillow Group’s many staff kitchens, the consensus seemed to be “I definitely want to work here one day,” as one student put it.)

Zillow Group’s Shadow an Intern event was a creative way to get young people excited about their future careers, which is especially important for students coming from low-income households who might be lacking connections, resources and career support from their family. The Office of Economic Development looks forward to working with Zillow Group and other employers in the future to connect youth with internships and other career experiences.

While not every business has the means to host interns through the City’s youth employment program, employers can always find creative ways to support Seattle’s future workforce. To get ideas on how you can connect with your next generation of employees, reach out to us at

Youth employers prepare for summer interns’ first day on the job

Last year, over 3,000 local youth were employed at organizations and companies across the city through Seattle’s Youth Employment Initiative. This spring, employer partners old and new prepared to host 2018’s round of summer interns through a series of trainings and workshops provided by the City and Educurious. New this year was an Equity and Community Building training, aimed at preparing intern supervisors to have meaningful, productive and welcoming relationships with their interns.

The Initiative connects low-income youth who experience racial, social and economic disparities with professional opportunities they may not otherwise have access to. The Equity and Community Building training focused on helping managers understand their own biases and learn to create an inclusive workplace, so that interns will be set up for success in what will be, for many, the first professional experience of their lives. “This matters, if we’re bringing interns into organizations that might be predominantly white,” said Maketa Wilborn, one of the employer training facilitators, during the third and final round of training offered.

Wilborn and co-facilitator Fleur Larsen led the group of employers from across the private and public sectors through the three-hour agenda. The class unpacked the meaning of diversity, a word that “has been played-out” and that too often “centers whiteness” as Wilborn put it, and discussed the importance of centering equity in all work.

“Presenters like Fleur and Maketa want to hear what diversity means to each individual who chose to participate and help people come to their own conclusions about how they can make changes, if any, within their organization to be more welcoming and open to diversity of all kinds,” said Educurious’s Blake Konrady. “My favorite quote from the training is ‘my normal is not your normal’ and trying to understand different perspectives in the workplace.”

After a crash course in understanding systemic racial inequity, participants were asked to stand and move to different corners around the room depending on where they grew up. Once grouped by geography, the class partnered up to examine cultural norms they live and operate with, both in terms of the area they live in but also in terms of the sector they work in. Seattle’s reputation for passive-aggressive communication came up, for example, and representatives from nonprofit organizations in the room discussed the common issue of white saviorism in their lines of work.

Intern supervisors were asked to examine their own unconscious biases and learn to overcome feelings of defensiveness, guilt or resentment that can come up as a result of having those biases revealed. Larsen and Wilborn shared advice from previous summer interns on what made their work experiences valuable, and how their supervisors made them feel welcome and supported.

Participants left the class with a set of culturally responsive strategies to help ensure that interns would feel that they truly belonged in their host organization throughout their internship. One employer said the training “reframed my view of why we have interns at our organization,” while another said it helped them understand “what bias is and that you can ‘be a good person’ and still have engrained biases.” As a result of the training, one supervisor said, “I will spend more time getting to know my interns as individuals, and carve out time to mentor them daily.”

2018 summer internships begin this month and end on August 31. Learn more about the Inititaive here, and find more information on how you can get involved on our website.

Economic Development Highlights in Mayor Ed Murray’s Budget Proposal

Mayor Ed Murray delivered his 2017-18 Proposed Budget to the City Council today, and we are pleased to inform you of some key investments related to the Office of Economic Development (OED).

Mayor Murray is dedicated to an innovative and productive business environment along with an affordable and equitable economy accessible to all entrepreneurs and workers. New investments in the Office of Economic Development’s work will enable us to extend the mayor’s commitment to robust and responsible economic growth, and shared and enduring prosperity for all those living and working in Seattle.

Here are a few examples from the proposed budget which highlight how our office will better help remove barriers to employment by supporting low-income residents developing their talents, better enable employers to grow and innovate, support key industry sectors, and enhance the vibrancy of our neighborhood business districts.

Two summers ago, the mayor launched his Youth Employment Initiative, a citywide drive whose ultimate goal is to provide all Seattle youth access to meaningful employment opportunities. Through the proposed budget, the mayor ensures the continuation of this developing program with an emphasis on reaching low-income youth who face barriers to employment. Since its inception, thousands of youth have expressed interest in these career opportunities. Mayor Murray’s budget invests in the needed infrastructure that will ensure that internships continue to be available over the coming years by bolstering our engagement with the public and private sectors.

Additionally, the budget invests in Seattle’s thriving nightlife industry by funding a Nightlife Business Services Advocate position within the Office of Film + Music. This position will work on policy supportive of a safe and vibrant nightlife sector and advance this industry. The mayor’s investment will help effectively deliver business support and advocacy services to nightlife businesses throughout Seattle.

Last spring, Mayor Murray and the City Council successfully approved new Business Improvement Area (BIA) policies. The new policies help streamline and make more comprehensive the City’s process used to develop and support new BIAs. BIAs are growing both in number and revenues, generating more than $17.7 million in 2015, which enhance the quality of life in our urban districts. The proposed budget allocates funding for additional staffing to support the implementation of these new policies. Doing so will accelerate the establishment of new BIAs and provide greater support to existing BIAs.