Road Map Project partners recently threw an appreciation breakfast for local employers who hosted worksite tours during the 2018-19 school year for more than 1,900 students from nine Seattle and South King County high schools.

Worksite tours were created to address a dilemma: While there’s a plethora of jobs available in the Puget Sound’s knowledge-based economy, they are not being filled by homegrown talent. The Community Center for Education Results partnered with Challenge Seattle in 2016 to make worksite tours available to South King County high schoolers. In its first year, these partners worked with 15 employers who served 500 students.

Since then, participation has grown steadily for both employers and schools. Each year, more students were introduced to a variety of careers and participated in creative activities designed to give them a tangible idea of work at a law firm, an engineering site, a natural resources department, a tech company, a marketing agency, and more.

Road Map Project partners work with employers to help them design tours that are engaging, grade-appropriate, and feature employees who are representative of the region‘s K-12 student demographics, which is majority youth of color.

Student feedback is also collected to help employers fine-tune future tours. Students have shared worksite tours help them better understand careers and the education journeys to get there. As one student shared in their feedback, “I liked talking to the speakers because they really helped me get a start on how I’m going to achieve my goal.”

At last week’s appreciation breakfast, 71 employers who hosted 79 worksite tours this school year were celebrated. They come from a range of industries, from healthcare, to nonprofit, to tech. A third of the employers were first-time hosts.

To highlight employer contributions, awards were handed out. Smartsheet, Boeing, Puget Sound Energy, and Zillow received Perfect Attendance awards. These four companies have been involved with worksite tours from the beginning, and hosted a tour every single semester!

In the Innovative Activity category, KUOW, King County Department of Natural Resources, Perkins Coie, and Zulily were honored. At KUOW, students learned about the importance of storytelling and characteristics of strong journalism and practiced recording their own voice. Students on the Department of Natural Resources tour learned about flood emergency responses and developed and presented their own evacuation plan and budget. At Perkins Coie, students immersed themselves in the fictional world of Wakanda from the film “Black Panther,” where they were tasked with negotiating a contract between their clients, the Wakandan government, and scientists. And at Zulily, students learned how to drive traffic to a website and market products, and then developed a 15-second Instagram story in the Zulily studios.

The MVP award went to Sound Transit, who supported employer trainings for hosting the worksite tours, has frequently recruited Road Map Project region alumni to speak during or lead tours, and implemented some student ideas to make their Link Light Rail services more inclusive.

Become a worksite tour partner

A few worksite tour participants shared that this experience isn’t just useful for students—it also connects employees with local community members so they can better understand the aspirations of local students.

Companies can influence, encourage, and shape students’ visions for their future. The impact of connecting what is learned in the classroom to what is created out in the world cannot be underestimated. It’s crucial to show students there’s a demand for their unique perspectives, skills, and ideas. Their contributions matter, and seeing this early on can propel movement to a path formerly never envisioned.

Worksite tours occur twice a year, during the fall and spring. The next round is fall 2019. If you are interested in hosting a worksite tour in the future, please email:

Posted in: College and Career Readiness , College and Career Success

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