CAN-DO SPIRIT. Gene Boes, president and CEO of the Northwest Center, celebrates the accomplishments of differently abled people.
GOLD AWARD: Northwest Center
Gene Boes, president/CEO
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is three times the national average for all unemployed people. In addition to its early intervention and inclusive learning programs for children with disabilities, Northwest Center (NWC) provides employment services for adults and young adults dealing with disabilities. These programs include transition services, vocational training and job placement. The organization also assesses skills and offers on-the-job support for as long as necessary.
More than 550 adults across Washington receive Northwest Center’s services each year. Some 210 employment clients receive career development, vocational assessment and job-matching services each year, and about 350 receive job coaching and retention services. Forty percent of Northwest Center’s staff have a documented disability.
The organization also works with hundreds of companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, Value Village, PCC Community Markets and QFC. Through its Amazon partnership, every receptionist at all 40-plus Amazon buildings, the tour guides and reception staff at its Amazon Spheres and the “banistas” at the company’s banana stands are employees of Northwest Center. The organization also partners with Amazon to staff positions at its sort center and across its Prime Now warehouses in the Puget Sound region.
"Our NWC-recruited associates have 7 percent higher attendance rates than the general population and a productivity rate at 98 percent of the business average,” says CEO Gene Boes.
SILVER AWARD: Sellen Construction
Scott Redman, CEO
Sellen Construction is the largest general contractor in the Puget Sound area. The company is working to address the needs of young people, as well as the challenges presented by a lack of skilled tradespeople in the region. This year, the Sellen Community Foundation began philanthropic partnerships with two local pre-apprenticeship training programs, as well as the Regional Pre-Apprenticeship Collaborative. The collaborative is a joint effort among the city of Seattle, union representatives, community-based organizations and potential employers. Its mission is to engage in a regionwide approach to outreach, education and training.
SILVER AWARD: WGU Washington
Tonya Drake, chancellor
Founded in 2011 in partnership with the Washington State Legislature, WGU Washington is a nonprofit university designed to expand access to higher education and address critical workforce needs through online, competency-based learning. Offering tuition fees roughly half the cost of comparable universities, WGU is the state’s sixth-largest university, reaching nearly 300 cities and towns and every county across the state. The university offers more than 60 career-focused bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in four in-demand fields: health professions, information technology, education and business.