It has been nearly two years since HSD first started working on Career Bridge. The approach and ongoing work on this initiative exemplifies the department’s strategic plan and outcomes framework. While it may seem like it’s taking a long time, Career Bridge is just one example of how we are embedding the Strategic Plan and the Outcomes Framework focus on achieving results and addressing disparities.
Career Bridge began in 2012, following a spate of gun violence and deaths in Seattle. Data showed that the African American community was disproportionately impacted by not only the most recent activity but those disparities have persisted over time. Career Bridge was created to connect African-American men and other men of color who have multiple barriers to jobs, including a history of former incarceration, limited work history, and low levels of education to jobs and personal supports.
Career Bridge was developed and piloted as a collaborative effort between the city and community through the end of 2013. In 2014, Career Bridge was transitioned to the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) to administer, strengthen and expand the Career Bridge model and community partnership.
Career Bridge brings together employment services, wrap-around supports, and grassroots community support networks to provide a relevant and comprehensive approach to assist participants in attaining the relationships and skills needed to achieve economic and personal stability. While employment and career acquisition are important programmatic components, Career Bridge seeks to affect community-level change as well as to advocate for policy and system changes that support individual and community strengths, assets and potential.
A key element of Career Bridge is the expectation that participants are referred by people who are well acquainted with them and committed to walking beside them in cooperation with sponsors. During the pilot, the intake, ongoing support and assistance were unfunded and dependent on the volunteer commitments of the community. Those strong personal relationships, grassroots implementation and participant empowerment through shared leadership and accountability differentiate Career Bridge from other services for this population. The initial outcomes demonstrate the strength of the community.
Career Bridge Goals & Intended Outcomes
Successful program implementation will result in self-sufficiency through career employment and attainment of personal stability, supports and skills needed for improved well-being of participants, their families and communities.
- Job placement and retention in a transitional job and a plan for entering training or other steps to careers with livable wages, benefits, and career opportunities.
- Pathway to upward mobility – career paths
- Enrollment in existing post-secondary training programs
- Placement in a job that leads to career paths
- Clear plan for steps needed to achieve economic success
- Training or work that leads to/provides opportunities for entrepreneurship (e.g.; skilled trades)
- Viable Connections/Networks – Access to networks and connections needed to get a job – linkage to “informal hiring network”.
- Personal and Family Stability and Empowerment
- Child and family reunification/healthy relationships
- Enhanced participant leadership, confidence and empowerment
- Debt management, financial planning and connection to resources
- Housing stability
Career Bridge represents an exciting, real world example of the department’s commitment to RSJI goals and our commitment to addressing disparities in our community. Stay tuned as this program grows, and as we find new ways to integrate other HSD services and supports into the Career Bridge model. Great work!