City of Seattle, Sound Transit and Port of Seattle Announce $1.75 Million Investment for Construction Diversity Programs and Equity in Workforce Development

SEATTLE (March 2, 2021) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced a first of its kind partnership today among the City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle and Sound Transit to invest $1.75 million to provide long-lasting construction careers for historically underserved communities, with room for upward growth. The investments aim to reduce existing racial disparities in construction and in the larger community through access to family wage jobs, training and support for workers.    

“We know that the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionately impacted women and people of color. Despite the quick actions our City has taken to support workers and residents during this unprecedented time, too many families have struggled to make ends meet. Where we direct our dollars matters and this historic partnership is just one step of many toward addressing the very real displacement and inequity issues that harm underserved communities,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “This latest investment, and the continued expansion of Seattle’s Priority Hire Program, will help ensure that women and people of color from every economic background are prioritized and can attain good, livable family-wage jobs, right here in Seattle.”  

The new collaboration by the City, Port and Sound Transit furthers equity in workforce development and construction diversity programs. This collaboration invests in organizations led by historically underrepresented communities to close the equity gaps through:  

  • Outreach and placement into training and jobs, with a focus on justice-involved individuals.  
  • Training and job readiness services that are culturally inclusive and prepare individuals for construction careers. 
  • Services that help residents of economically distressed communities, people of color and women already working in construction to stay working and advance their careers. 

Under the partnership, the City will contract with seven organizations that have been selected to receive funding in 2021 and 2022:  

  • Apprenticeship & Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW) 
  • Northwest Carpenters Institute 
  • Pacific Northwest Ironworkers & Employers Apprenticeship 
  • Rainier Beach Action Coalition 
  • Seattle Central College – PACT Pre-Apprenticeship 
  • Tulalip Tribes of Washington – TERO Vocational Training Center 
  • Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS)

The City’s, Port’s and Sound Transit’s construction diversity programs have successfully created equitable access to construction careers. This is one in a series of joint efforts to increase access to and success in construction for people of color and women throughout the tri-county region. Another is the Construction Apprenticeship Guidebook, which walks those interested in construction through training opportunities and shares successes and advice from workers already in the industry: www.bitly.com/apprenticeshipguidebook  

“The benefits of expanding transit infrastructure across our region go far beyond the finished products that people ride after opening day. Sound Transit is creating thousands of jobs, and over the past four years, our efforts have resulted in more than 30 percent of construction work hours being performed by people of color,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and University Place council member Kent Keel. “This partnership with the City and Port reflects our commitment to further building on that track record as we expand from 22 to 62 miles of light rail by 2024 and prepare for further expansions. It is vitally important that our job sites reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.”

“Access to good-paying construction jobs can change someone’s life, particularly in underrepresented communities who may not have ever been introduced to trades career pathways or mentors,” said Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck. “Construction spending and jobs will help stimulate our recovery. By partnering with the City on priority hire programs we can ensure that recovery is more equitable.” 

Under the partnership announced today, the Port of Seattle and Sound Transit plan to invest an estimated $200,000 and $250,000, respectively, with the City investing $1.2 million.   

The investment joins others by the City in the past year to invest in organizations that empower and strengthen underserved communities and create economic vitality.   

  • In November, the Mayor announced nearly $6 million in awards through the Equitable Development Initiative to organizations led by and serving people of color. An additional $1.7 million will also support BIPOC-led organizations. Those awards are being used for organizational capacity building, property acquisition and capital expenses, and are part of more than $105 million City-funded dollars that have gone to EDI organizations since 2017.   
  • In Mayor Durkan’s 2021 budget proposal, she proposed $100 million in investments to address disparities in communities of color by scaling some of the City’s current programs and examining additional priority areas for new investments.   
  • City Council also approved her legislation to permanently transfer the Central Area Senior Center to community ownership and establish a 99-year lease with Africatown Community Land Trust  for Fire Station 6, two Black-led community organizations in the Central District. These property transfers build on the September transfer to Byrd Barr Place, another Black-led advocacy organization, and the first organization to complete the property transfer under the community requested criteria.   

Through the latest investments, the City, Port and Sound Transit can provide better access to training programs and well-paying construction jobs for historically underserved communities, yield a higher return on investment by increasing worker skills and productivity, while increasing the diversity of the workforce on these projects. The recruitment, training, job readiness and retention services support the goals of the City, Port and Sound Transit workforce diversity and Priority Hire programs.  

The City’s Priority Hire program is operated by the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. To learn more, please visit www.seattle.gov/purchasing-and-contracting/priority-hire.