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Future of Work

Providing clear, equitable, and durable pathways to economic security in high-demand industries that reflect the changing economy
The City of Seattle is working to advance opportunities to build a better and more vibrant city for the next generation. The State of Washington will see 740,000 job openings in the next five years, and too few Seattle youth are prepared to take full advantage of the middle-wage and high-wage jobs that are coming. Coupled with the increase in automation, which may create further inequities, Mayor Durkan seeks to answer the key question of how we can prepare our youth and low-wage workers for the new economy. 
"Our city of the future must also be one where people have access to opportunity and jobs."
-Mayor Durkan

Increase college access through Seattle Promise 

What we track: Number of 12th grade students who have completed a Seattle Promise application
Why is this important?
The City of Seattle is working to reduce barriers to higher education through its Seattle Promise program. Job opportunities in Seattle are greatest for those who continue their education after high school, but almost 70% of Washington's high school students don’t get post-secondary credentials by the age of 26. Additionally, both statewide and in Seattle, there are racial disparities in educational attainment rates. 
Seattle Promise launched in 2018 to create more equitable higher education opportunities, providing up to two years, or 90 credits, of tuition as a last dollar scholarship to cover any unmet financial need. In addition, financial support for books, transportation, housing, childcare, etc. is available to students with the greatest financial need. 
The program extends the opportunity to all Seattle Public School (SPS) graduates regardless of GPA, income, or country of birth. 
How we measure:
SPS seniors take their first step toward college access through Seattle Promise by completing an application to the program. This measure captures this first step interested students take toward attending a Seattle College. Interested students then continue their journey to a Seattle College by completing key program milestones, leading to enrollment at a Seattle College:

Pictured below: a student's journey through Seattle Promise
Additional measures of student success through Seattle Promise include retention and completion. Promise scholars’ postsecondary retention and completion rates show signs of negative Covid-19 impact consistent with national trends.  
Despite impacts of COVID-19, Seattle Promise retention rates (51%) are on par with national community colleges (51%). (Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center)
Completion rates: 
  • 2019 Cohort 2-year completion rate (includes summer): 23%  
  • 2018 Cohort 2-year completion rate (includes summer): 29%  
  • 2018 Cohort 3-year completion rate: 37%  
  • Across both the 2018 and 2019 cohorts, Black and Latinx Scholars have lower 2-year completion rates than their Asian and White peers 
National completion trends are typically measured by 6-year rates, making comparison difficult. However, a 2012 study (National Center on the Education and Economy) found that only 13% of community college students completed a degree within 2-years and only 22% completed within 3-years. This data suggests that Promise completion rates are comparatively high; however, there is work to be done to better support more students, particularly students of color, in completing their degrees within the program’s timeframe. 
What progress are we making?
As the result of thoughtful leadership and strategic advocacy, the Seattle Promise became a priority investment area for the Federal Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery (CLFR) fund. Approximately $10.7M of CLFR funding has been appropriated from 2021-2023 for both expansion of and enhancements to the Promise program.   
From 2019-2020, DEEL conducted a racial equity toolkit (RET) analysis of the Seattle Promise program to develop a priority set of recommendations to ensure intentionality regarding efforts to close race-based opportunity gaps in postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion. CLFR provides the financial support to begin piloting the implementation of program improvements in direct alignment with several of the RET recommendations, such as:  
  • Offering a path to program re-entry for COVID impacted Promise cohorts. 
  • Expanding the 2-year/90 credit time to completion for COVID impacted scholars.  
  • Providing more personalized and differentiated staffing supports reflective of student needs. 
  • Enhancing non-tuition related financial support to further assist with costs of attendance, including expanding Equity Scholarship eligibility from students with $0 EFC to students with an EFC within Pell eligibility range. 
  • Instituting a summer academic bridge program to further promote postsecondary preparedness leading up to Fall quarter. 
  • Strengthening multiple pathways to degree completion and career though partnerships with the Washington Opportunity Scholarship and the University of Washington 

Why is this important?
The City of Seattle is committed to fostering a diverse and innovative local economy powered by a world class workforce. The City seeks to promote the sustained growth and productivity of businesses, including small business and those owned by women and minorities. 
Our vision for a healthy economy demands that opportunities to share in our prosperity are available to all Seattle residents. The City's education and workforce development efforts are striving to help our residents prepare for and access jobs that advance this goal.

Connect Seattle youth to economic opportunity

UNDER CONSTRUCTION What we track: Are youth accessing economic opportunity?
What progress are we making?
The City is taking new steps to support economic opportunity for young people and all workers. We are working with local businesses, labor unions, and Seattle Colleges to expand Opportunity Promise. Piloted in the summer of 2019, this program provides Seattle Promise students with the chance to apply for paid internships with Seattle’s top employers and labor organizations and connects them with city-funded career development programs.  
The City is working to provide support to adults in the workforce as well. We are preparing to implement the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights legislation authored by Council member Mosqueda and championed by Mayor Durkan. The protections created by this law serve as an example of how our community can ensure workers receive fair wages and fair rights as the nature of employment in our economy continues to change.