Grays Harbor Youth Works

Grays Harbor Youth Works was founded in 2010 with the help of community residents concerned with the well-being of the youth in Grays Harbor County.

Dr. Doreen Cato, Co-Founder with Cheryl R. Brown, Interim Executive Director

The mission of Grays Harbor Youth Works is to engage and transform 15-19-year-old high school youth through internship programs with the business and nonprofit communities to encourage them to pursue college, vocational training, or military for higher education.

Grays Harbor Youth Works (GHYW) is a nonprofit corporation governed by 12 board of directors; organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. It is operating specifically for the purpose of providing 15-19 year-old high school students with a small $300 scholarship, and if they so choose, a half or full school credit. These internships offer the student with 20% job shadowing and 80% hands-on experience in the business and nonprofit sectors. The student is also advised and evaluated by a mentor at the business hosts’ site.

GHYW hired a part-time Program Coordinator in November 2019 who recruits, orientates, places, monitors and evaluates the success of the students and the program.

From 2013 to 2018, 144 youth from Taholah, Lake Quinault, North Beach, Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Harbor High, Montesano, and Elma have participated in the program. Of the 144 Student Interns, 96 were seniors, 46 juniors, and two sophomores.  Out of the 46 juniors, 26% re-enrolled to go through the experience again. Thirty-five percent of the students in the program were offered permanent part-time jobs. Other successes include 30% of the students being offered summer jobs, and 20% of the juniors were asked to repeat the program in their senior year.

As of 2018, the program has grown from 13 to 144 students from nine school districts, and has seen a 45% increase in the number of participating businesses, nonprofits, and public-sector organizations. A new summer program was included that focused on Special Education students. There are two new high schools joining GHYW: Ocosta in Westport and Gravity in Hoquiam.

There are 13 school districts in Grays Harbor County. The goal is to serve all with high schools by 2020. The objectives are to (1) increase the number of students’ entry into higher learning; (2) teach soft skills critical for gaining and maintaining employment; and (3) maintain the grade point average of 2.0 – 4.0.

The program is using both qualitative and quantitative methodology to measure the success of the program. A rubric tool is used to ascertain the growth in soft skills. Exit interviews with student and guidance counselors identifies higher learning pursuits, and G.P.A. obtained from school records measures the student’s ability to maintain at least a 2.0 or better.