In 2006, several board members of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, including the Superintendent of Mount Vernon School District, visited the Greater Yakima Chamber of Commerce. Since 1996, the Greater Yakima Chamber Foundation has been running a Business Education Partnership with 14 local school districts in and around Yakima County. The chamber offers these school districts a wide selection of opportunities, from speakers and job shadows to teacher field trips and lunch buddies, designed to give students K – 12 a “real world” work experience. These opportunities help students determine their interests and career goals and encourage them to stay in school to meet those goals.

The Mount Vernon Chamber board returned home armed with ambition and great ideas, and began the process of building a similar entity in Skagit County.

The goal was to improve the connection between businesses in Skagit County and the kids in Skagit County schools. We believe that a stronger connection will help students to see the amazing opportunities available to them and motivate them to work hard to succeed. Our goals were to improve graduation rates and grades, help students see that career opportunities exist for them here in Skagit County, and support business in getting more involved with the schools and their future workforce.

In 2009 we we partnered with the Northwest Workforce Development Council to obtain a Bridges Grant focuses on helping at risk Mount Vernon High School students through mentorships.

In February 2010 we again partnered with the Northwest Workforce Development Council on the Opportunity Partnership Grant which is designed to help specific groups of Skagit Valley College students obtain paid internships and job shadows in the health care field to enhance their education. Funds from this grant are supporting the development of the logo and our processes so that we can continue to find ways to support education in our local community.

The Speaker’s Bureau is a listing of employers or business professionals who have expressed interest in providing commentary or presentation in the classroom for the benefit of educators. The Speaker’s Bureau aims to connect educators, students, and local business with informative partnerships. To get involved or request a speaker, contact one of our EWP Coordinators!