Kaiser Permanente Awards $350,000 to Expand Youth Apprenticeship

Partnerships throughout the community focus on scaleable, equity-focused impact

On May 22nd the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan of Washington announced a generous grant of $350,000 to the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) to expand apprenticeship opportunities in in-demand sectors for opportunity youth. "We’re pleased to have so many partners on-board as we take on this project,” said Marie Kurose, new CEO of the WDC. “It’s exciting to bring our focus on high-quality training and high-demand jobs into a community like South King County, where those resources, combined with a commitment to equitable outcomes, can have a huge impact on the lives of opportunity youth."

The WDC, in partnership with Puget Sound Educational Services District (PSESD), the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC), and Seattle Education Access (SEA), will develop a scalable system  that connects low-income youth and young adults to high demand registered apprenticeship pathways, with an initial focus on manufacturing and healthcare. “The continued conversations around regional strategies and the integration of current systems to assist in the expansion of registered apprenticeship opportunities for all youth in multiple industries is both important and exciting.” Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director, AJAC. 

Partners will form an opportunity youth apprenticeship consortium, bringing together apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, service providers, youth re-engagement centers, and other interested partners to better understand the challenges facing young people when entering apprenticeship.

Across the two-year grant emphasis will be placed on building pathways for opportunity youth to enter healthcare apprenticeships. With new apprenticeships starting up in Medical Assisting and other occupations, the timing couldn’t be better. “There is tremendous momentum for the apprenticeship model in our region,” said Kim Wicklund, Director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “We are delighted that the Consortium is looking at apprenticeship opportunities through the lens of equity and supporting disengaged youth in accessing such important programs. These young adults play an important role in the healthcare workforce of the future.”

Research shows that there are 19,000 young people ages 16 to 24 that are not in school and not working across south King County, the target area for these resources. Through access to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship, young people with barriers to employment like housing insecurity, justice involvement, and food scarcity will enter the workforce prepared to succeed.

By working with dropout re-engagement centers and recruitment partners, the consortium will ensure a diverse set of prospective apprentices hear about pathways to living-wage careers. PSESD's role across school districts will ensure that a referral and placement system will be designed with long-term programmatic sustainability in mind, accessing funding sources like Open Doors.

Youth apprenticeship transforms how education systems prepare young people to enter careers and launch into adulthood through mutually beneficial partnerships across schools, industry, and communities. These partnerships create opportunities for young people to finish high school, start their postsecondary education at little-to-no cost, complete paid work experience alongside a mentor, and start along a path that broadens their options for the future. 

The work supported by the Kaiser grant will be closely aligned with the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship grant awarded by New America to the Construction Center of Excellence at Renton Technical College. Both grants will seek to build regional capacity for in-school and out-of-school youth to access and succeed in apprenticeship pathways. "We have been honored to be a part of expanding registered apprenticeship opportunities across industries and beyond the traditional trades programs," said Shana Peschek, Director of the Construction Center of Excellence. "Supporting the Workforce Development Council of Seattle King County on their Kaiser grant is another opportunity to align the work we are doing under the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship grant for youth in apprenticeship.  This work will focus on equity and access for youth, opportunity youth and young adults to gain living wage career opportunities through a registered apprenticeship pathway. These two funding mechanisms will bring together agencies in synchronized efforts for systemic change. It’s exciting to be a part of!"


Grant by the numbers:

2 – initial occupations of focus, manufacturing and healthcare

5 – employers hire opportunity youth apprentices

15 – opportunity youth enter apprenticeship

75 – youth enter pre-apprenticeship or other pre-employment training

150 – out-of-school youth learn about manufacturing apprenticeship pathways

Meet Kristen Fox, New WDC Board Chair

In a recent board election, Kristen Fox was voted Chair for a 2-year term. Kristen has served as a board member since 2018, and we are excited for her to bring her business intelligence and acumen, in addition to her compassion, to this leadership role.

We recently profiled Kristen’s professional journey in healthcare and her pathway to workforce development. Read on to learn more:


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Kristen Fox serves as the Chief Human Resources Officer at Swedish Health Services, where she works to plan and implement long­term workforce strategy in the midst of a constantly evolving industry. Swedish is the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in King County.

When she graduated from the University of Washington in 1995, Kristen planned to take a year off, go into law school, and pursue a career in public policy. But during that year, she started an entry-­level HR position and then ended up at a Critical Access Hospital in Wisconsin, where she discovered a passion for the patient-­centered mission. In her words: "How do you find people who can be there for others at the most vulnerable moments of their lives?"

Before joining the WDC board last year, Kristen already saw her mission as being bigger than a single company. Her work brought her into contact with local healthcare training programs, including apprenticeship design with SEIU Multi­Employer Training and Education Fund, and Seattle Jobs Initiative’s GrowHire, which increases access to healthcare opportunities by offering local training for entry­level care positions. "We live in a world where all ships rise," says Kristen. "How do we scale the work of Swedish to make it possible for small healthcare companies to make the same improvements in hiring?"

Her husband serves as something of a case study—he started his career as a mechanical engineer, went back to medical school as a resident physician, and now works as a family physician serving vulnerable populations.

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That makes for a busy family, and they love to spend free time with their two teenage sons and half­-shepherd Tonka (@tonkatraildog). With two parents in healthcare, perhaps it’s not surprising the phrase "living wage jobs" has already worked its way into conversation at the dinner table.

Sagal | A Portrait of Success in Healthcare

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Sagal is a single mother of two school-age children. Together, they make their home in south Seattle. 

In 2013, when Sagal arrived in Seattle, she sought assistance from her local welfare office where her caseworker connected her with cash assistance and told her about the Health Careers for All program.  With an interest in healthcare, Sagal enrolled and joined a training cohort at South Seattle College to prepare for and enter nursing. To put food on the table, she also began part-time work doing remote medical interpretation from home, earning $500 monthly to help support her family, and moved off cash assistance. She completed all of nursing’s pre-requisite courses with competitive marks, moving on to the next step—the licensed practical nursing (LPN) program.

Throughout the intensive LPN program, Sagal says she benefited from the support of students and her “navigator” (career counselor), and in spring 2015 she successfully completed the program. That September, after passing the national credentialing exam and earning her state license, Sagal began full-time work as an LPN in a local rehabilitation center, earning $27 an hour. Sagal’s drive to become a nurse wasn’t yet satisfied—she stayed in close contact with her navigator and enrolled in the Health Workforce for the Future program in 2016 and was accepted into the LPN-to-RN ladder program at Highline College shortly after. She graduated with her associates degree in nursing (ADN) and secured a full-time registered nurse position at $39/hour in September 2017.  Sagal plans to continue her journey, with a final career goal of becoming an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP).

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A few words from Sagal:

The reasons I would like to become a registered nurse are many ... I would love to motivate others who are in the same shoes as I was some years ago. I want to make them understand that hard work pays off, and to persevere and believe. I have always been a good student and have been able to achieve the goals that I set for myself. My children look up to me as a role model, and their grades at school reflect that. I want to be an exemplary person for my children so that they too can achieve their goals.

We congratulate Sagal and the hundreds of individuals who have dedicated their lives to our healthcare while building a prosperous future for themselves and their families.

A Path to Nursing - Health Workforce for the Future Success Story

The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County is devoted to creating sustainable career pathways aligned within our Focus and Watch Sectors. Health Workforce for the Future provides an exciting opportunity for individuals to find not just a job, but build a career within the healthcare sector. HWF is a local project of the Health Professions Opportunity Grant (HPOG) initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Below we’ve highlighted the story of Andrea Galicia, an individual who seized these opportunities to advance her career in nursing.

To learn more about Health Workforce for the Future, please visit seakingwdc.org/hwf-project.


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“When I see patients who need help, and work next to professionals who provide that help, it inspires me. I feel compelled to work on my skills and practice growth to become one of those providers who makes a difference in an individual’s life.”

With that perspective, Andrea Galicia, a Medical Assistant at Seattle’s Country Doctor community health clinic, applied for admission to the 3-1/2-year nursing cohort at North Seattle College. “I have watched the devotion and professional strengths of those here at Country Doctor,” Andrea wrote in her application, “and that stirs me to constantly reach and improve.”

Her supervisor at Country Doctor admitted nursing was the right path for Andrea, but lamented, “I would love to have her as my Medical Assistant forever.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Andrea was admitted to the program, with support provided through the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County’s Health Careers for All project, funded under the Health Professions Opportunity Grant initiative of the Office of Family Assistance, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

After completing six challenging quarters of pre-requisite coursework that began in the summer of 2012, Andrea, a working single mother of three young children, successfully began the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) portion of her training in January 2014. Continually searching for the right balance between work, school, and family life, Andrea ran into academic issues in the 2nd quarter of the LPN program, which prevented her from moving forward with her cohort. Family issues then necessitated a move out of her parents’ home, adding further complications to her plans.

Determined to reach her long-time goal of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN), she explored other nursing programs, but kept alive the remote option of being re-admitted to the program at North—which would require starting the LPN year from the beginning. Said Andrea, “I am very fortunate to have a supportive family and many relatives and friends who are willing to help me with the transition of balancing school and family.”

She ultimately received the good news of her re-admission to North, and did return in the fall of 2014. Continuing her work at Country Doctor while in the program, she made it through the LPN year, passed her LPN licensing exam in November 2015, and began the LPN-to-RN ladder program in the fall of 2015.

Only three quarters remained to achieve her goal, but the HCA project was ending and the challenges to reach completion again seemed insurmountable. Thanks to Andrea’s dedication to achieving her commitments—including spending extra time tutoring and relying on the support of friends, family, and the program—she was able to make it through. The WDC and its partners worked closely to ensure Andrea was able to find the resources she needed to stay on track. This included funding and Navigator support for her final quarter through the WDC’s HPOG2 project, Health Workforce for the Future, which helped support completion of the training and credentialing that followed the academic process.

Andrea’s dream of becoming a Registered Nurse was achieved when she graduated in June 2016 and passed her RUN licensing exam in September. She says, “I am dedicated to putting all my efforts and energy into giving back to the community that has taught me so much. It is my passion to do this.”

Andrea is now preparing for an interview for an RN position at Country Doctor’s sister clinic, Carolyn Downs, a community health center serving a diverse and complex patient population in Seattle’s Central District. Andrea is poised to further the health center’s mission of “providing quality, caring, culturally appropriate primary healthcare that addresses the needs of people, regardless of their ability to pay,” and bring greater stability to her own family, nearly doubling her wage from $16 per hour as a Medical Assistant.

“Those who know her well know how fortunate the community is that she persevered to reach her goal through the many demanding times,” says her HWF Navigator, Mike Hayden. “All who know Andrea know the benefit she will bring as a nurse in the Seattle-King County community.”

Transferring Nursing Experience & Planning for the Future - Health Workforce for the Future Success Story

The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County is devoted to creating sustainable career pathways aligned within our Focus and Watch Sectors. Health Workforce for the Future provides an exciting opportunity for individuals to find not just a job, but build a career within the healthcare sector. HWF is a local project of the Health Professions Opportunity Grant (HPOG) initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Below we’ve highlighted the story of Getachew Haile, an individual who immigrated from Ethiopia and was able to transfer his existing nursing experience through collaboration between the Health Workforce for the Future and the Welcome Back Center.

To learn more about Health Workforce for the Future, please visit seakingwdc.org/hwf-project.


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Getachew Haile came to the United States in May 2015 from Ethiopia, where he had practiced as a nurse. He was referred to the Health Workforce for the Future (HWF) program in April 2016 by staff at the Puget Sound Welcome Back Center (WBC) at Highline College, who had assisted him with compiling transcripts and documents for formal credential evaluation in the U.S.

With the assistance of his HWF Navigator, Getachew enrolled in Nursing Assistant (NAC) training, which he successfully completed in May. By the end of June, he had taken and passed the NAC licensing exam, received his license to work from the state, and connected with the HWF business services rep to identify and begin applying for available jobs in the area. In July, Getachew began working as a Nursing Assistant at an Alzheimer’s and Dementia facility.

Getachew works with 20 residents on a daily basis, following their Patient Care Plan and assisting with daily living (bathing, feeding, grooming, dressing), ambulation, medication reminders, and vitals monitoring. He continues to work closely with his HWF Navigator and Welcome Back Center staff to prepare for the next step in his career. Once the credential evaluation process is complete, Getatchew will be eligible to sit for the national nursing credentialing exam (NCLEX). His HWF Navigator has assisted Getachew to enroll in an NCLEX prep course at Highline College, where the Welcome Back Center is housed. Together WBC and HWF staff are providing Getachew the guidance and assistance necessary to navigate the complex process of articulating his training and experience in Ethiopia to the U.S. workforce.

His HWF Navigator says that Getachew is very appreciative of the HWF program, in spite of the heavy lifting he is doing to prepare for his exams. His navigator frequently encourages him to take time to reward himself for his hard work.