On October 26 and 27 staff from SkillSource attended the 2023 Open Doors Summit in Seattle, WA, where SkillSource Wenatchee was recognized by partners as a best practice Open Doors program.

Open Doors is Washington’s statewide youth reengagement system. The program is designed to assist students who have disengaged with the education system prior to completing high school, and to support them through educational and vocational pathways. More than 4 million young people in the US age 16 – 24 have disconnected from the K-12 education system prior to completing high school or have not yet entered the workforce. In WA state, 10.1% of the 85,240 students in the 2022 high school graduation cohort were classified as unenrolled from school, with higher unenrollment rates for students who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Latino/a/x, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and students from low income families or who had experienced homelessness during high school.

One reason the SkillSource Wenatchee Open Doors program was recognized as a best practice program is based on the robust business and community partnerships they have established. SkillSource partners closely with the Wenatchee School District and a diverse set of organizations, institutions of higher education, and public agencies to remove barriers and obstacles, provide wraparound services, and offer community and work-based opportunities. Partners described the SkillSource Open Doors Program as a unique opportunity in the region, benefitting not only the students but the entire Greater Wenatchee Valley because students leave the program trained and ready to work in a variety of jobs.

“These students need to be treated with respect and they need to be treated like adults that are owning their own pathway towards education … [SkillSource staff members] just do a really good job of creating that smaller feel and creating more of a relationship with students so that we can actually hold them accountable because they care … and they’re invested.” – Wenatchee School District staff member

Skyler and Carlos are two examples of how the Wenatchee Open Doors Program with the support of partners works for youth, employers, and the greater community.

When the owners of Keyhole Security were confronted with a lack of skilled workers during the pandemic, they reached out to SkillSource for assistance. SkillSource identified a quality candidate, Skyler, who had the strengths and interests that were aligned with the opportunity through Keyhole Security. Skyler received his High School Equivalency in June of 2021, and then began a SkillSource funded internship and On-the-Job Training with Keyhole Security. Skyler now has the industry specific skills for a career as a locksmith, and Keyhole Security has a rockstar employee in Skyler!

When Norris Construction needed additional workers they reached out to SkillSource to assist with filling that need through on-the-job training. Carlos enrolled at SkillSource Learning Center as a teen and earned his high school equivalency in May 2021. SkillSource placed Carlos in work experience opportunities that were aligned with his interests, and at 19 he began training as a Construction Helper for Norris Construction. SkillSource helped Carlos with the purchases of work tools, clothes, and gas to remove obstacles and help ensure Carlos’ success in his new job. Nick Norris, owner of Norris Construction, called SkillSource’s program “a win-win for all.”

Click here to read the full program summary from the Open Doors Summit 2023.