New Unemployment Insurance Navigator Program aims to remove barriers to benefits in local communities

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The Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) will distribute $2 million in U.S. Department of Labor funds to community organizations to help potential unemployment claimants in underserved communities better understand available benefits.

Nine community-based organizations in Washington will receive grant money from ESD’s new Unemployment Insurance (UI) Navigator program, according to a news release.

Staff from these organizations, called UI Navigators, aim to help ESD lower or remove barriers to unemployment benefits in local communities. They will also work closely with ESD to ensure benefits are available and accessible to all qualified workers.

Organizations will provide outreach, education and support to underrepresented community members, who have been underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.

Grant recipients are:

Chinese Information and Service Center provides comprehensive services to support immigrants and their families by creating opportunities for them to succeed, while honoring their heritage.

Drivers Union is a multiracial and multilingual organization of drivers who work for app-based personal transportation platforms. Its purpose is to promote economic security, fairness, justice and transparency for workers in Washington’s personal transportation industry and beyond.

Korean Community Service Center, established in 1983, enhances the well-being of the Korean American immigrant community in the Puget Sound region. It provides social services and community programs that meet the needs of Korean Americans in Washington.

La Oficina LLC is dedicated to transforming lives by providing information, education, resources and advocacy for the minority community, fostering meaningful engagement with government organizations.

Native Action Network works to enhance the beauty, strength and integrity of the American Indian and Alaska Native community through leadership development, civic engagement, community building and economic restoration.

Neighborhood House, established in 1906, focuses on providing services to entire families, including low-income community members, public housing residents, immigrants and refugees.

People for People, founded in 1965, provides services including transportation, employment and training, senior nutrition and more throughout Washington with offices in Yakima, Moses Lake, Ellensburg, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Goldendale, White Salmon, Union Gap and Stevenson.

TRAC Associates, founded in 1983, is an employment, training and social service organization that provides vocational help to all disadvantaged job seekers. It has offices in Tacoma, Everett, Seattle, Tukwila and Kent.

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, represents and provides services for hundreds of local unions throughout Washington. More than 600 local unions are affiliated with the organization, which represents more than 550,000 union members.

About the UI Navigator program

Community organizations selected for the UI Navigator program will meet regularly with ESD to:

• Discuss barriers customers face and possible solutions.

• Determine ways to measure success.

• Learn about ESD benefits and services.

These organizations will meet in person with ESD staff, including ESD Commissioner Cami Feek, this month for a summit. The private event will help organizations understand unemployment benefits and serve as an unofficial kickoff for the UI Navigator program.

“The UI Navigator program exemplifies our agency’s vision that everyone in Washington should have opportunities, power and resources they need to achieve their full potential,” Feek said. “I can’t wait to meet our new UI Navigators and see what kinds of ideas they have to help improve access to benefits in our state.”

For more information about ESD’s UI Navigator Program, go to esd.wa.gov/community.

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