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. The WBA has begun focusing on the education component of the campaign in earnest for 2017.

Youth Engagement Initiative

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.

The Youth Engagement Initiative will begin with a kick off event held at Bellingham Technical College September 28, 2017, featuring a program of successful local business leaders and video introductions to employment opportunities in the County with local, national and international companies. Our program speakers are Mike Andes (Augusta Lawn Care/Business Boot Camp), Erin Baker (Erin Baker’s), Tyler Byrd (Red Rokk), and Anne-Marie Faiola (Bramble Berry).

Following the kick off event, the WBA will work with JA to provide volunteers for the in classroom content delivery as well as the on site tours.  The WBA is working with human resources professionals to offer mock interviews and resume feedback to participating students.  Our goal is to involve 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 ongoing activities of the Youth Engagement Initiative will build on member involvement. The WBA is forming an Education/Workforce Development Council made up of business people, educators and community leaders to guide the vision and activities. Ultimately, the K-12 education initiative will connect with 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.