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Economic and Workforce Development

Libraries strengthen our economy by helping people develop job skills, find employment, and provide information for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The need: In Washington, nearly half of all jobs require skills training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree. Yet too few of Washington’s workers have had access to the skills training needed to fill these careers. Access to basic job resources, the language learning necessary for many jobs, or resources to start small businesses are all limited as well. These gaps are most pronounced for Washington residents born in other countries.

The Foundation’s role: Free programs at the library provide language and literacy resources, skills training, and community connections for job seekers and entrepreneurs that aren’t available anywhere else. The library’s workforce development programs have been valued at nearly $5 million annually for Seattle’s economy. The Foundation funds five programs that expand economic opportunity through the library. Programs include:

Adult Tutoring
Offering in-person and virtual one-on-one sessions in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese to work on basic skills and language development.

Job Resources
Kickstarting job searches with resources for career development, gaining new skills, creating cover letters and resumes, and finding openings.

Language Learning & Citizenship
Providing free classes, conversation groups, and online resources to help people learn English or prepare for citizenship tests.

Library to Business
Partnering with local organizations to provide classes, workshops, and resources for aspiring entrepreneurs (pictured left).