On behalf of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS), I would like to thank our donors, friends, volunteers, corporate and institutional partners for your ongoing commitment to equality, passion to serve and dedication to justice. This year we are celebrating the launch of our educational initiatives and recognize we could not have done it without you.
For more than 85 years the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle has championed equality and justice on behalf of the African American community and other historically underrepresented communities. The Urban League has been unmatched in its delivery of housing, health, employment, and education programs to our community.
- The Urban League’s housing program is one of the best in the city. This year we served over 2000 families and individuals in our housing programs. Through our home-ownership classes we are helping families to make sound investments and build wealth for future generations.
- We increased our work to protect the health of our community. This fall, we partnered with organizations to provide direct health, vision, and dental care to more than 4000 members of the community.
- Our positive impact on employment in our community has been extraordinary. Career Bridge was established to train, teach, and place African American and other men of color with multiple barriers to employment into jobs. Since its inception, 70 percent of the program graduates were placed in jobs. We look forward to expanding this work in 2015.
Now, we are re-launching our education initiatives. Many of you may have read the recent Seattle Times article on the income disparity issue in our city. The average wage in King County for an African American is now below $26,000 per year. Meanwhile, the average wage of an individual who completes graduate school is over $60,000 per year, and the average wage of a person who graduates with a computer science degree is over $89,000 per year. In fact, there are close to 30,000 open computer science jobs available in our State right now. But, the sad truth is that those high-paying jobs will not be filled with African American candidates, because in 2012, only 8 African Americans in the entire State of Washington took the AP computer science exam, and in 2013 only 12 took the exam.
At the Urban League, we are dedicated to improving the educational opportunities of our youth from “Cradle to Career” by: (1) being their voice; (2) collaborating with educational and corporate partners; and (3) offering direct programs and services designed to create education opportunities for our youth and young adults.
- The Urban League has teamed with Code.org and other local technology organizations to create opportunities for young African Americans to be introduced to computer science.
- The Urban League is strengthening its Urban League Technology Center to create new and exciting opportunities for youth and young adults to learn about computer science and have access to STEM education programs and technology.
- The Urban League is teaming with The Breakfast Group to expand the Project Mister program, which will provide additional mentors for hundreds of African America youth.
- The Urban League is reinvigorating its Urban League Scholars and Project Ready programs, to prepare our youth for success in college and beyond.
- The Urban League continues to provide college scholarships to African American students in our community.
Our youth are fortunate to live in a period of history in which we have an African-American President. And while we celebrate our gains, the gap in achievement continues to widen. Sixty years after the historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision, we all know that the promise of equal educational opportunity “with all deliberate speed” is for many an illusion, as the education gap continues to widen. Statistics show, our state is ranked in the very bottom five states in closing the racial and ethnic achievement gap for K-12 students. Unless significant strides are made, the Education Trust and Office of Superintendent Public Instruction (OSPI) believes it could take another 45 years to close the gap between students of color and their white counterparts. Children born today in the State of Washington can expect to see the level playing field promised in Brown in 2056 – more than 100 years after the case was decided. That is unacceptable.
However, together, we can fix these systemic issues. We can convert the promise made in Brown into a reality. Each of us has the ability to make positive changes in the life of a young person. I ask that you: (1) engage with the Urban League – there are dozens of ways to do so; (2) continue to celebrate with us as we improve the lives of members in our community from “Cradle to Career;” and most importantly (3) give generously today. If your employer has a matching gift program, make them aware of your charitable gift and let Grace Greenwich, Chief Development Officer, know at firstname.lastname@example.org
. These matching gifts will double your impact!
In the upcoming year, there will be many opportunities for you to Join, Give and Celebrate. For additional information on how you can increase your engagement with the Urban League, please visit our website www.urbanleague.org
Yours in the movement!
Pamela L. Banks
President and CEO