History of YEI formation

History of the Youth Engagement Initiative: Phase 1, Phase 2 & Moving Forward…

The Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) launched the Step Up Campaign for Business Advocacy, Research and Education in September 2016. The vision of the campaign is to engage with the community through research, education and advocacy to support business success because business success drives community prosperity. In 2017, the WBA began focusing on the education component of the campaign in earnest and officially launched in February 2018 offering local high school students Junior Achievement Job Shadow Curriculum, which includes local business site tours and soft skills training.

PHASE 1: Collaboration with Junior Achievement

The goal of the Youth Engagement Initiative is to educate Whatcom County high school students on the opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship and to offer mentorship through the career decision making process.  The WBA is partnering with Junior Achievement (JA) to introduce the Job Shadow curriculum to Whatcom County high schools. In conjunction with the curriculum, the WBA will coordinate site tours of local businesses and provide opportunities for the students to engage in mock interviews and resume review with human resource professionals. We plan to engage students in every high school in Whatcom County in the project in some capacity during the initial year of the program and to deepen the involvement in subsequent years.

The Youth Engagement Initiative launched February 7th, 2018 with a kick off event featuring a program of local business leaders.  Our program speakers were Mike Andes (Augusta Lawn Care/Business Boot Camp), Erin Baker (Erin Baker’s), Kevin Menard (Transition Bicycle Company), and Anne-Marie Faiola (Bramble Berry).  See video from the event below.

PHASE 2: Whatcom Business Alliance Announces $50,000 Commitment

April 19th, Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) announced phase two of the Youth Engagement Initiative (YEI), welcome YEI Director Lin Nelson and secured a seed fund contribution of $50,000 from its board of directors.


The ongoing activities of the Youth Engagement Initiative will build on member involvement. The WBA has formed a YEI Committee made up of business people, educators, community organizations, and workforce development leaders to guide the activities. The K-12 engagement and education is also working to connect a post-secondary education element in order to ensure that the young people of Whatcom County are career, college and citizenship ready for the 21st century.

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For opportunities to collaborate and support you may reach us directly by contacting info@whatcombusinessalliance.com.