Office of Economic Development and Urban League Expands Web Design Program for Small Businesses and Minority Students

Small businesses in Seattle can now apply for the summer and fall cohorts of the Youth Web Design Program, a partnership between the Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS), which supports the local workforce and small business development. .

Through the Youth Web Design program, Seattle small businesses without a corporate website or limited online presence work with local youth to design modern websites that improve and expand their online presence and business operations. The program also covers all website expenses for the first year, and business owners learn the technical skills needed to maintain and update their websites for the long term.

“The Youth Web Design Program aligns with two of my administration’s top priorities: supporting local small businesses and providing hands-on opportunities for young people to learn and grow with technology,” the Seattle Mayor said. , Bruce Harrell. “Facilitating these youth and small business partnerships through public-private collaboration is a great example of our One Seattle mission – bringing people together to make shared progress.”

During cohorts, young participants will work directly with business owners to design professional websites that meet the unique needs of the individual business and can be used as part of their professional portfolio for future employment opportunities. During the program, young people learn industry-standard skills, including HTML, CSS, and JAVA, and earn technical certification for the coding skills they learn. Additionally, each youth will receive paid stipends and soon earn Career and Technical Education (CTE) credits in Seattle Public Schools.

“Strong partnerships, innovative thinking and creative investment resources will help us turn the corner on the pandemic and build a stronger, more equitable local economy filled with opportunities for wealth creation, especially for Black people, Browns and other communities of color who have been systematically excluded. our region’s prosperity,” said Markham McIntyre, Acting Director of the OED. “This program is a win-win – businesses get better websites and a better digital presence and young people of color gain in-demand skills that will prepare them for the jobs of the future in our region. This program is another example of how partnership leads to progress, and it wouldn’t be possible without our incredible partner, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

The Youth Web Design Program will support 50 small businesses and 50 youth across two cohorts in 2022. The summer cohort will run from July 6, 2022 to August 12, 2022 at Garfield High School, serving 25 small businesses and 25 kids from any high school in Seattle. School. The fall cohort will service an additional 25 small businesses and support an additional 25 youth from September 7, 2022 through January 31, 2023. Youth interested in participating in the Youth Web Design Program should log in directly to ULMS and can find out more at

“I was inspired to do this program because I want to pursue a career in design, and I thought this program would help me. The kind of skills I have learned so far is how building a website and how to make it appealing to visitors and different age groups as well – things that I hadn’t thought of,” said Ma’jori Jones, a former high school attendee.

To be eligible for the program, small businesses must meet the following criteria:

• Business and Occupancy (B&O) fees must be paid in full

• Have a business license from the City of Seattle

• Business has a physical location (including food trucks and home-based businesses)

• Cannot be a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization

• Located in Seattle, Washington

• You do not currently have a corporate website or the website is significantly outdated and the company is unable to make necessary updates

Applications from small businesses for the 2022 Summer Cohort will be accepted until May 31, 2022. All applications received after May 31, 2022 will be considered for the 2022 Fall Cohort. Businesses can apply online at https ://

The Youth Web Design Program Pilot was launched in 2020 to address two emerging needs. First, due to COVID-19 and immediate public health protocols that required social distancing and stay-at-home orders, companies refocused their operations and relied on online tools, including websites and apps. social media, to stay open and connect with customers. Businesses that didn’t have websites or digital tools before the pandemic were hit harder economically and faced greater barriers to getting online. Second, paid employment and internship opportunities for young people were instantly reduced or eliminated, creating an economic crisis for young people who relied on these opportunities to generate income. In response to these economic and social challenges, OED and ULMS have developed this pilot program to educate, train and employ young people, and to support small businesses – especially Black and immigrant-owned businesses – their ability to stay open, to function in our virtual environment and to grow. durable digital tools for immediate and long-term stability.

“Our community is still recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses. Many of them have taken up the challenge of moving from in-person to online operations to survive without the resources or skills to do so,” said Michelle Merriweather, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. “This program has given us the opportunity to provide the digital support services needed by technologically disadvantaged businesses, while simultaneously teaching our young people a set of highly transferable and in-demand skills that can provide gainful employment opportunities. without the need for high school. education once they have graduated.

To date, the program has supported bringing 28 businesses online and connecting them to digital tools for long-term stability and trained more than 20 young people. With new funding, an additional 50 young people and 50 businesses will be supported throughout 2022. Based on the initial success of this program, OED and ULMS plan to launch a future paid training program that will equip young people with social media and marketing skills that will be complementary to the coding and web design skills taught in the Youth Web Design program.