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:


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.


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.

Self-Sufficiency Calculator Redesign Overview


The Self-Sufficiency Calculator was designed to support career planning, helping individuals to understand where they are starting, explore options, and make decisions about what to do next.

We are excited to announce that a design update will go live in early July. Read on to learn more, or let project manager Seanna Ruvkun take you on a quick video walkthrough.


In order to help individuals plan for their financial and career goals, and for programs to measure their impact, the Self-Sufficiency Calculator utilizes the Self-Sufficiency Standard, a sophisticated metric incorporating validated national, state, and local data to determine individual costs of living, accounting for variations in cost by geographic location and family composition.


The Standard report is packed with great info, but it can be hard to find just what you need in a print report. The Calculator is designed to:

Provide a tool that integrates cost of living information (the Standard), basic budgeting, and career and vocational planning

Embed information about work supports, such as food stamps or subsidized health care, that can help when expenses exceed income

Allow programs to measure their effect on customers’ ability to make progress toward economic self-sufficiency

In King County, career counselors use the Calculator as a tool to support customers to gain a sense of their financial situation, goals, opportunities, and challenges.

The Calculator is updated with new data every 2-3 years. The WDC also provides ongoing training to staff in our system and partners in our community to support use of the Calculator.

Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County Names Marie Kurose as Chief Executive Officer

Chosen for her “vision, commitment to equity & fierce work ethic”


Seattle, Wash– The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) is pleased to announce that Marie Kurose has been named the next Chief Executive Officer, bringing to the role more than 30 years of experience leading workforce development initiatives in the region, working in community-based organizations, private philanthropy, and major public institutions, including the City of Seattle and most recently the Port of Seattle. Ms. Kurose also served nearly seven years at the WDC—known at the time as the Private Industry Council—working as a Project Manager to implement initiatives that included partnering with agencies to establish the first centralized dislocated worker program site.

“Marie has demonstrated a deep working knowledge of national and local workforce development systems and policies,” says Board Chair Tom Peterson. “That knowledge will be vital as we transform our regional approach to broadening funding sources, increasing program efficiency, and targeting racial inequity.”

Ms. Kurose was selected after an extensive national search led by the consulting firm and racial equity specialists at Morten Group LLC. A search committee comprised of WDC board members and stakeholders from King County’s business, labor, and philanthropy sectors—as well as community partners—interviewed candidates from across the country over the course of several months.

Throughout her career, Ms. Kurose has demonstrated a commitment to engaging and partnering with communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and other community stakeholders. She has led efforts to unite community, philanthropic, and public-private partnerships in effective working relationships, and to improve collaboration with diverse systems and community organizations.

“I am excited for this opportunity to build on my passion and longstanding commitment to economic equity and social justice,” says Ms. Kurose. “I look forward to collaborating with our business, labor, training, community, and philanthropic partners to ensure our diverse communities are part of our region’s economic growth and prosperity.


The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King Countyis a nonprofit workforce grant-funding organization led by a majority private sector board that oversees employment-related programs for youth, the adult workforce, and employers in Seattle-King County, with the goal of a strong economy and self-sufficiency for every resident.

Media Contact
Joe Taylor, Strategic Communications
Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County
jtaylor@seakingwdc.org |  206-448-0474 x 3031

King County Executive & City of Seattle Spotlight the Efforts of the Workforce Development Council


May 22, 2019 - Reposted from the office of the King County Executive


King County and City of Seattle are transforming the workforce system to connect more people to high-demand jobs. The new model will better align funding to help people who face barriers to employment and help ensure that employers have the well-trained workforce they need to remain competitive in the global economy.


King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan are transforming how the region funds employment and job training, uniting the efforts of local governments, businesses, labor and philanthropies to connect more people to high-demand jobs.

Here are highlights of the transformation:

  • Prioritize employment and training for those who face the most barriers to opportunity.

  • Improve coordination between employers, labor, and educators to make sure job seekers are prepared for the best career opportunities available right now.

  • Better align local, federal, and philanthropic funding to maximize the impact and produce better results.

“We brought together businesses, labor, philanthropies, and educators to transform the local workforce system so we can connect more people to good-paying jobs available right here, right now,” said Executive Constantine. “Together, we will remove barriers to opportunity so that more of our neighbors can participate in our region’s historic job growth, providing local employers with the well-trained talent they need to compete in the global economy.”

“This is another step forward in our work to build a regional economy with true opportunity for all,” said Mayor Durkan. “We are connecting workers with the good-paying jobs of the future and building a world-class workforce. We will continue to work with our partners across the region to address disparities in our workforce across race, disability, immigration status and other identities and ensure that prosperity is shared."

By better aligning local and federal funding through the Workforce Development Council, the new approach will maximize the $8 million in federal funds the council receives each year for employment and training. As a first step, the Workforce Development Council is awarding a combined $2.7 million this week to community-based organizations to help them connect more people to employment services.  

The model builds on the progress the region has made over the past two years by creating a single strong board that unites workforce partners and funding, prioritizing funding that promotes racial equity.

Local leaders also announced a new alliance of philanthropic organizations – including Ballmer Group, Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Seattle Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase – that will support the region’s new workforce strategy.

Connecting more people to the region’s thriving economy

While the region’s economy is strong, certain populations still have disproportionately high unemployment rates, including Latinx, Native American, and African-American populations, people with disabilities, and people reentering the workforce after incarceration. The grant funding announced today is being awarded to community-based organizations that are working to promote racial equity in the region.

The $2.7 million in grants announced today includes federal funding and more than $800,000 generated by King County’s Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. Each of the grants can may be renewed for up to two additional years, pending fund availability. The Workforce Development Council awarded the funding to five agencies, four of which are working with a consortia of organizations, that include a total of 14 community-based organizations that will help people who are currently underserved by workforce programs. Here are a few examples:

  • YWCA will partner with Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle to provide intensive and customized career development services to African-Americans, the chronically and long term unemployed, and individuals with criminal justice involvement.

  • Pacific Associates, in partnership with Alliance of People with DisAbilities and POCAAN will provide employment, career guidance, support services, emotional support, retraining and follow-up services to people with disabilities who want to return to work.

  • TRAC Associates will partner with Pioneer Human Services to provide clients coming out of incarceration access to their Roadmap to Success class, a cognitive behavior curriculum from The Pacific Institute that was written for people who have experienced incarceration. Pioneer staff will also provide supportive services such as help accessing a driver’s license, transit passes, and interview and work clothes.

The strategies funded by these grants were informed by input King County, City of Seattle, and Workforce Development Council received when they partnered with community leaders to apply an equity lens. As a result, many of the organizations that successfully competed for funding are led by people of color. 

King County, City of Seattle, and Workforce Development Council will create a community advisory committee to ensure that communities of color are able to provide input on the priorities for this type of competitive funding. It will be the first advisory of its kind in the nation.

Tapping into a national network of philanthropic funders

The newly formed Funders Collaborative is a local alliance of philanthropic organizations that includes Ballmer Group, Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Seattle Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase. It is affiliated with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which makes it possible for the region to tap into this national network of philanthropic organizations.

This will diversify the funding portfolio for the Workforce Development Council, which currently relies almost exclusively on federal funding.

JP Morgan Chase today announced a $600,000 grant to the Workforce Development Council that will strengthen partnerships with industry partners to make sure employment and training programs provide people with the skills that employers need by expanding the nationally recognized Next Generation Sector Partnership model. As part of their renewed New Skills at Work initiative, JPMorgan Chase will invest $350 million globally to develop, test and scale innovative efforts that prepare individuals with the skills they need to be successful in a rapidly changing economy.

The Next Generation Sector Partnership model was piloted in the local healthcare sector – the Seattle-King County Healthcare Industry Leadership Table, or HILT – with support from Seattle Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, Ballmer Group, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. It will be scaled to two additional industries through the JP Morgan Chase grant.

Unlike the old model in which employers worked individually with multiple support organizations, the new the model organizes the many education, training and economic development entities into a coordinated response team, making it possible for employers to partner with a single group to ensure that job training programs prepare students for the current job market.

Kaiser Permanente also announced a $350,000 grant to the Workforce Development Council. The grant will connect more low-income youth to high-demand registered apprenticeship pathways in partnership with Puget Sound Educational Service District, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Seattle Education Access, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as well as South King County school districts, and community colleges.


“We brought together businesses, labor, philanthropies, and educators to transform the local workforce system so we can connect more people to good-paying jobs available right here, right now. Together, we will remove barriers to opportunity so that more of our neighbors can participate in our region’s historic job growth, providing local employers with the well-trained talent they need to compete in the global economy.”
- Dow Constantine, King County Executive

“This is another step forward in our work to build a regional economy with true opportunity for all. We are connecting workers with the good-paying jobs of the future and building a world-class workforce. We will continue to work with our partners across the region to address disparities in our workforce across race, disability, immigration status and other identities and ensure that prosperity is shared.”
- Jenny A. Durkan, Seattle Mayor

“Regional collaboratives are at the heart of how the National Fund achieves its mission. In more than 30 communities across the nation, business leaders and workforce professionals come together to deliver solutions that generate more inclusive prosperity. The National Fund provide a robust learning community for our members — that learning is a two-way street. Through our network, successful solutions in one community are shared, adapted, and replicated in another, creating change on a national scale. Seattle has been a key partner in our efforts to engage employers in new sectors and implement programs to ensure that all workers in the region can earn a family sustaining wage.”
- Fred Dedrick, President and CEO, National Fund for Workforce Solutions

“We are thrilled to work with new partners to grow and evolve our strategy for helping individuals in our community achieve financial self-sufficiency.”
- Tom Peterson, Board Chair of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

“I could not be more energized by this huge commitment to shaping the workforce of tomorrow. Kaiser Permanente wants to make an impact on the lives of our members, employees and the communities we serve and access to living wage jobs is critical. We are truly honored to be on the frontline by intentionally creating space for underrepresented populations and people facing barriers to skills training and employment. Not only will our members benefit from having exceptional inclusive care but we’ll foster more sustainable and healthy communities.”
- Jiquanda Nelson, Sr. Manager, Equity, Inclusion & Diversity and Workforce Development

“As a registered nurse I wholeheartedly support expanded training opportunities through the Workforce Development Council. I have personal experience with career training through the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Multi-Employer Training Fund, which gave me the support I needed to achieve my life-long dream of becoming a nurse. With the Training Fund I could go back to school while I worked, and they paid for all my tuition, books and supplies with no out of pocket costs. The WDC initiative is all about bringing together labor, government, philanthropies and employers to help working people achieve our dreams, so we can contribute fully to our communities.”
- Cenetra Pickens, Registered Nurse and SEIU 1199NW Member, Kaiser Permanente Tacoma Medical Center