The year 2013 marks the 90th anniversary of Seattle Goodwill.
Seattle Goodwill was founded in 1923 by a group of local business people who recognized a need for training and employment for those without job skills. These founders established Seattle Goodwill at its original location at the corner of Boren Avenue and Virginia Street. Two years later, Seattle Goodwill moved to the corner of First Avenue and Cedar Street.
By 1930, the building at First Avenue and Cedar Street had become too small, and Seattle citizens raised the funds needed to purchase an old hotel at 1400 South Lane Street—the site of Goodwill’s current facilities.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Seattle Goodwill traded work for goods such as clothing, furniture and housewares. In the Depression years of the 1930s, it is believed that in addition to those working for wages, each month as many as 1,500 people would work at Seattle Goodwill in trade for anything from a pair of socks to a complete outfit or a houseful of furniture.
As the social programs of the 1930s developed into a government system to care for the basic needs of the financially disadvantaged, Seattle Goodwill began serving those with physical and mental disabilities. For the next 40 years, Seattle Goodwill provided these services to the community.
With an increase in the number of organizations in our area helping those with physical and mental disabilities, in the 1970s Seattle Goodwill shifted its program focus to serve those with less visible challenges such as economic, educational, social and vocational barriers to employment.
In 1979, in response to its client needs, Seattle Goodwill began offering vocational training classes to prepare trainees to enter jobs within the community. These classes evolved into the Employment and Training Program. In 1985, a small literacy program was added to address the educational needs of program participants. This program developed into our current Adult Basic Education Program. In the 1980s, as computer proficiency became increasingly important, Seattle Goodwill began offering this training.
Seattle Goodwill spent much of the 1990s expanding our programs and retail operations. During this decade we revamped our job training program to more closely reflect the needs of the modern day employer and employee. Computer skills, customer service skills and business communications were popular and relevant courses. Our education program also expanded to assist students immigrating to the United States who needed English language instruction.
Retail operations were also the focus of expansion in the 1990s. Between 1995 and 1999, Seattle Goodwill opened five “New Generation” stores in the northern Puget Sound. These new stores featured their own donation drop off and processing facilities, a modern storefront, and a stylish retail environment; many also offered on-site programs.
Recognizing the importance of “soft skills training” in helping students maintain employment, Goodwill added a related program to its curriculum in February 2002. Called GoodwillWorks, it is an employment readiness program that focuses on helping participants develop the workplace behaviors and attitudes that are necessary to get and keep a good job.
In 2007, to meet the demand for job applicants with good customer service skills and basic banking and financial skills, Goodwill introduced two new sector training programs in Retail and Customer Service and Banking and Financial Services. Students receive training in those areas for several months while filling in educational gaps through adult basic education classes.
Today, Goodwill operates ten job training centers and twenty-two retail thrift stores throughout the Central and North Puget Sound region. Net proceeds from retail sales provide funds that support our job training and education programs which are still offered at no cost to low income individuals with barriers to employment.
We are proud of all that we have accomplished over the past 90 years, and our success would not have been possible without the incredible ongoing support of the community. Thank you for helping us help others. We look forward to what the next 90 years will bring and to continuing to change lives through employment.
In 2012 Seattle Goodwill provided almost 6,300 students with free adult basic education and job training at our 10 community job training centers.
Our job training and education students:
- Represented 102 native languages and 113 countries of origin
- 61% were below the Federal Poverty Line
- 16% were homeless
- 29% did not have a high school diploma or GED
- 40% were not reading English at a fourth grade level upon intake.
Goodwill helped nearly 700 people find a job after taking our classes. For the newly employed graduates, the average income increase was $11,600.