Strategic Job Placement for Advancement : Seattle Jobs Initiative

Program/Practice Name: Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI)

Contact Information:

Krista Díaz
Contract/Support Services Manager
Seattle Jobs Initiative
830 4th Avenue South. Suite 206
Seattle, WA 98134

Type of Program/Practice: SJI, a nonprofit organization, creates opportunities for low-income individuals, primarily minority, refugee, immigrant, and homeless populations, to support themselves and their families through living wage careers.

Program/Practice Description: A workforce intermediary, SJI helps low-income residents secure and advance in living wage careers by creatively aligning support services, including housing, child care, transportation, and counseling, with short-term sector-based job training. By partnering with local businesses that are seeking qualified employees, SJI links students to internships and jobs. SJI's policy team complements its work by researching and advocating for legislative changes that improve access to training and services for low-income residents.

Background/Program History: SJI originated as one of the first initiatives under the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Jobs Initiative. In late 2002, SJI was incorporated as a nonprofit organization.

Innovations and Results: SJI offers low-income individuals three training/job placement options:1) short-term cohort training in growing industry sectors (currently manufacturing/welding, office occupations, automotive, and construction); 2) a sector pathways program that provides very short-term job-specific training through non-SJI training programs; and 3) an individualized placement program for those seeking immediate employment. Participants in SJI's programs receive training in soft skills (the attributes and attitudes that equip individuals to succeed as workers), interview and job search skills, and money management. SJI also provides access to the services job seekers require to be prepared for training and job placement and able to retain employment over the long term. This may include basic services such as housing, as well as services that support employment, such as child care, transportation, and counseling. SJI places significant emphasis on standards and outcomes and uses performance-based contracting with all service providers, in particular tracking retention and placement. SJI's results-oriented program is also highly responsive to the needs of employers. SJI works directly with employers through an employer broker to identify and fill job openings and to develop and deliver training programs that respond to employer needs and reflect real workplace expectations. SJI maintains an Employer Advisory Board that meets quarterly and influences curriculum development, based on its knowledge of skill needs and hiring trends.

SJI has achieved more than 5,400 placements with hundreds of local employers, at a starting wage averaging nearly $12 an hour plus benefits. About 60 percent of placed individuals have retained their jobs at one year; about 40 percent have advanced in their positions within that period.

Funding: SJI receives the majority of its funding from the City of Seattle and local foundations.

Capacity Building: SJI offers a comprehensive 60-hour Case Management Best Practices and Standards training, as well as specific trainings for case managers in job development, employer engagement, recruitment, teaching clients financial literacy, retention, and effective use of client data. SJI convenes community-based organizations, community colleges, and workforce agencies to continuously review and develop best practices for helping low-income people become self-sufficient through a coordinated workforce development system. SJI is in the process of rolling out a modular Case Management Best Practices and Standards train-the-trainer curriculum for use by college advisory staff.

Policy and Research: SJI's policy work seeks to increase opportunities for low-income job seekers and workers to obtain the skills and knowledge they need to connect to and succeed in jobs with good wages, benefits, and career advancement potential, and to improve their economic circumstances through employment, work supports, and money management skills. The program is unique in the region for its in-depth policy research and advocacy for reform of the region's workforce development system. SJI's policy work is local, regional, and national in scope and focuses on:

  • Identifying growth industries and occupations;
  • Improving community college access and effectiveness for low-income adults;
  • Creating a better coordinated workforce development system in King County for low-income adults; and
  • Ensuring economic development strategies provide ample middle wage jobs that are accessible to low-income adults.

Tips to Implementation: SJI has been able to respond to employer needs because of its emphasis on involving employers and on its own labor market research. Industries are reviewed and monitored carefully and then selected according to the demands of the local economy.

Keys to Success:

  • Coordination of practice, research, training, and services with employers, industries, community-based organizations, and community colleges.

  • Maintaining a responsive and updated training and industry focus that is dependent on the local economy.

The following tools are associated with Seattle Jobs Initiative.  Please send us an email at for more information about these tools.

Program Flow Chart

Seattle Jobs Initiative's Job Trends Report, September 2007

Explanation of SJI Phases