At the Seattle Business Magazine conference earlier this month, a partnership between Bellevue College and Year Up Puget Sound won the first place Gold Community Impact Award for job creation and workforce development. The Millionaire Club charity won the second place Sliver Award in this category. These winners were selected from among 72 organizations overall, and honored at a gala held at MOHAI on Oct. 26.
The award was earned through approximately five years of work by BC and Year Up Puget Sound to close the gap between talented young adults and job opportunities, known as the opportunity divide. This program allows urban students to earn college credit at BC for completing an intensive, one-year IT training program which provides the students with skills and corporate internships.
“Our partnership allows us to work to close [the opportunity divide] and to more effectively serve the nontraditional students that benefit most from our services,” said Lisa Chin, founding executive director of Year Up Puget Sound and chair of Bellevue College’s Board of Trustees. “The college community benefits from the deep perspective and worldview that nontraditional students bring to the table.”
Year Up helps young adults who have graduated from high school or have a GED by paying them a stipend to spend during the year completing the program. The students agree to follow strict behavioral requirements such as showing up on time for work, and there is little tolerance for students who fall short. Every student has an adviser and mentor to help him or her succeed. Students spend six months learning skills and six months in an internship.
About 625 students have taken part in this program, many have been with local businesses. The program is mostly funded by corporate partners, who also agree to student internships. Local companies who participate in the program need people who can immediately contribute to their organizations filling open positions. The class that graduated in 2016 found jobs with local companies such as Nordstrom, Expedia, Microsoft, Amazon, Liberty Mutual, Starbucks and Zillow within four months of graduation, earning an average wage of $23.62 per hour.
This year’s Community Impact Awards finalists are Amazon.com, Bellevue College and Year Up, Columbia Bank, Evrnu, FareStart, Glassybaby, Itek Energy, Kinzer Partners, McKinstry, Millionaire Club, Optimum Energy, Rice Fergus Miller, Savers and Value Village, Skanska USA, Sleep Train, Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, Theo Chocolate, Tree Top Inc. and Wellspring Family Services. Harriet Bullitt was awarded as a Lifetime Achievement award for her support of the arts and environmental conservation in the Pacific Northwest.