Priority Hire

"Having a purpose beyond oneself not only establishes an intrinsic motivation, it also serves as a source of pride that enables one to "hang in there against the odds.""


We want to measurably increase access to jobs in the booming construction industry for residents of economically distressed ZIP codes as defined by the City of Seattle, women and/or people of color in the construction industry.

Program Description

Our mission is to remove barriers to employment by providing outreach and support that results in individuals receiving placements in the pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs required to enter the construction trade.

This program serves members of economically distressed zip codes with a focus on Black and Latinx (including immigrant and refugee) communities, most of whom are low-income and overrepresented in the criminal justice system.

Youth, young adults, women and families are a particular focus of ours with special emphasis young adult women whose representation, let alone retention in the construction trade are not what they should be, those with criminal legal system involvement and with limited digital access

How You Can Be Involved

We are very excited to have been at the table when this program did not exist and helped bring it into being. We knew when the Rainier Beach Community Center was being demolished and rebuilt and no local people were working on the project that something was wrong with that picture. We organized, got an ordinance created within the city of Seattle in 2015 and since that time the Port of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools and King County picked up a Priority Hire program of their own. We helped do that.

One action we encourage is that we see the construction trades as opportunities for our community. It is not an easy industry to work in and “acceptable workplace” efforts are occurring, but can be very rewarding. Check out this publication for more information.

Program Outcomes

Remove barriers to employment by providing outreach and support


Placing individuals into pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs


Serving members of economically distressed zip codes with a focus on Black and Latinx (including immigrant and refugee) communities



In order to effectively remove barriers, RBAC has learned that it is necessary to:

1) Be where the people we are serving are

Being proximate, which contributes to addressing barriers to re-entry, essentially means to be in the places the people we serve frequent. Not only have literature there but we must be present in person. We have utilized barbershops, beauty salons, neighborhood mini-marts, full service grocery stores, eating establishments, recreation centers, community-based organizations and transit stops (light rail and bus shelters). We have posted flyers and literature at these locations and briefed the proprietors of these establishments about the aspects of priority hire so they can participate in sharing information about this opportunity. We also call upon successfully referred and placed participants to assist with these briefings.

2) Provide civic engagement opportunities

Providing civic engagement opportunities contributes to decreasing recidivism because it gives those who have been approached, assessed, and referred a purpose beyond themselves. In the words of Malcolm X, "when the image of the black man is changed in the black man's mind the problems of recidivism would no longer persist." Having a purpose beyond oneself not only establishes an intrinsic motivation, it also serves as a source of pride that enables one to "hang in there against the odds." RBAC’s programs, particularly our Corner Greeter, Farm Stand, Back2School Bash, FreedomNet and Town Hall initiatives, are the perfect vehicles to support the civic engagement of community participants, particularly those who have criminal legal system involvement.

3) Ensure soft skills are acquired by participants

Building successful careers starts with the development of soft skills that support the participant in valuing the small things that lead to successful careers: being on time, consistent and effective communications and follow through.

Here are the recommendations offered by the Priority Hire Advisory Committee: Increase centralized resources and support for retention of workers including worker education, access to gas cards, transportation by increasing access to information like website forums, etc. collaborate with programs to develop an online support request form for workers to fill out and create online social media for workers to use. Others include an increase in outreach to the most underrepresented groups, increase resources for the apprenticeship guidebook, Continue work with drivers licensing issues and provide advocacy, work with training partners and City departments, support worker access to foreperson/supervisor training (suggestions include providing scholarship/reimbursement to workers attending construction supervisor related leadership.


  • City of Seattle
  • Seattle Central College
  • PACT
  • The Urban League
  • Pacific Northwest Ironworkers and Employers Apprenticeship
  • TERO Vocational Training Center

RBAC is recruiting for our new Executive and Advisory Councils!