Employees Community Fund helps homeless youths in Washington rebuild lives

ECF Puget Sound's $500,000 grant doubles job-training facility's capacity

March 31, 2015 in Our Community

Up to 10,000 young people in the Seattle area will experience homelessness over the course of a year, according to a nonprofit organization that helps homeless and disadvantaged people.

While the root causes of what is considered a growing crisis vary, the pathway out and off of the streets is clear to those who work with homeless youths: turn around young lives while they are still young — especially by helping provide job skills.

To help attain that goal, the Employees Community Fund (ECF) of Boeing Puget Sound recently awarded a $500,000 grant to FareStart, a regional nonprofit organization that provides culinary job training to homeless and disadvantaged people, including youths.

The grant will fund an expansion, along with furnishings and equipment, for FareStart’s Youth Barista Training Program at the Pacific Tower Innovation Center in Seattle. The expansion will double the number of homeless and disadvantaged youths it serves annually from 70 to nearly 150.

“The more opportunities youth have to get skills and support early on, the better their chances are of avoiding life patterns that can lead to chronic homelessness,” said Megan Karch, CEO of FareStart. “We’re thrilled to have the support of Boeing employees for this transformative project.”

The ECF grant will pay for the second phase of FareStart’s expansion to the Pacific Tower, located in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. It includes the addition of youth classrooms and an espresso bar and café. The dedicated classroom space will be used for job and education development and job-search assistance for barista students, providing the perfect environment for youths to take the first steps toward rebuilding their lives as they complete life skills and on-the-job training, Karch said.

“The employees of Boeing Puget Sound are excited to be a key contributor to this project and its vital mission,” said Robert Malone, president of the Employees Community Fund board of trustees. “We are committed to helping our neighbors, particularly homeless youth, gain access to training and employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency. This is a great example of the tremendous impact thousands of Boeing Puget Sound employees can have by pulling together to help our community.”

Plans call for the new café and espresso bar to be located next to the classroom and to help students build skills that include espresso-making, cash handling, food preparation and customer service.

The Employees Community Fund is a unique Boeing employee owned and managed charitable-giving program that operates in locations across the enterprise. The fund’s objective is to make a positive impact in communities where Boeing employees live and work.

Through employee paycheck contributions, the fund makes grants to local nonprofit organizations. Boeing pays all administrative costs, so 100 percent of the money goes to strengthening local communities, Malone said.

“This is a great example of the tremendous impact thousands of employees can have by pulling together to help our community,” said Ryan Mabbott, the fund’s treasurer. “Contributions of just $5 a pay period add up to make a big, positive difference for our communities.”

Trustees for the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound gather with FareStart CEO Megan Karch; Jovien, a graduate of the nonprofit’s job-training program; and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at the presentation of a check for $500,000 to expand FareStart’s youth training program.

Paul Gordon photo