One hundred years ago in 1921, Martin Johanson stood in Seattle’s Pioneer Square looking at all the people lined up at a soup kitchen waiting for support. He decided there had to be a better way to get people back on their feet. Johanson believed that if you had a job to do and a full belly, you could find both dignity and purpose. So he began feeding people, and they paid for the meal by working the kitchen. The Millionair Club was born.
Now, several name changes and a century later, Uplift Northwest continues the same mission of empowering people through employment. Located in Belltown since 1941, Uplift Northwest is one of Seattle’s oldest nonprofits and one of its most successful job programs for people experiencing poverty and homelessness.
As a privately-funded nonprofit, none of the work we do could be accomplished without our community’s support. Thanks to you, Uplift Northwest has been able to provide job opportunities and support services to tens of thousands of people over the past century.
What started as a humble service transformed Uplift Northwest into a major workforce provider for some of the regions biggest employers. Folks have found thousands of job opportunities through partnerships with local employers like Centurylink Field, Seattle Public Utilities, and Tom Douglas Restaurants.
While the numbers for the past century are far greater, a quick snapshot of 2020 demonstrates the following achievements:
- 502 workers were actively enrolled in the Uplift Northwest job program
- 435 loads of laundry were processed for workers
- 344 showers were provided at the hygiene center
- 97 prescription eyeglasses were provided to workers at no charge
- 63 workers completed job-training workshops and certification classes presented by Uplift Northwest and Seattle Jobs Initiative in partnership
- 323 local employers hired Uplift Northwest workers for jobs
- 90,215 total hours were worked by Uplift Northwest workers
- $1.67M in total wages were earned by Uplift Northwest workers
- 61 workers earned permanent or long-term job opportunities
- 210 workers received housing assistance from Uplift Northwest (either an affordable apartment at our own Kasota apartment building or income verification for another housing lease)
Over the past century, countless individuals have rewritten their stories by finding job opportunities and support services at Uplift Northwest.
With a century of experience providing jobs and job readiness services to men and women in need, Uplift Northwest is prepared to lead our community forward into a more prosperous future. As a part of our mission, we intend to continue providing crucial training and job placement opportunities for essential jobs. While the immediate future may look different as a result of COVID-19, we will continue to adapt and provide job opportunities and services where the community is most in need.
As a community leader, we intend to be role models for helping disenfranchised peoples. We will continue to build an inclusive model of employment service delivery that brings diverse experiences, perspectives, and voices into the conversation. We will continue working to build alliances with both public and private sector partners in order to best provide a full continuum of life-stabilization services.
Uplift Northwest has been a cornerstone in Seattle’s nonprofit community for the past 100 years, and, with your support, we are prepared to continue serving this city for 100 more.
Without Uplift Northwest, I don’t know where I’d be. Thanks to my job and new home, I’m back to living normal. As normal as you could be.”
Self-esteem can’t be given; it must be found. Uplift Northwest gives people an opportunity to reclaim their self-esteem through work.”
I support Uplift Northwest because they provide a ‘hand-up’ not a ‘hand-out.’ They have a proven record of success in helping the homeless resurrect their lives through their jobs program.”
IPM hires workers to staff parking operations for UW Huskies games. It’s an easy and convenient way for me find good workers. Years ago, Uplift Northwest actually helped me and my family when we came to America as refugees. I am honored to be part of the mission and I look forward to a long term partnership with Uplift Northwest.”
We need to provide opportunities for people to build better lives. We want to help people who have been struggling to have steady employment and the satisfaction of a job well done, and to improve neighborhood quality of life for everyone. [King County’s partnership with Uplift Northwest in White Center clean-up] is a pilot, and I hope that it will provide lessons that can be deployed throughout unincorporated King County, and beyond.”