YouthCare’s new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) employment program has just graduated its pilot cohort! Over the course of nine weeks, participants were introduced to various career avenues in the Commercial Real Estate world including design, technical trades, facility management, and project management. 

Among many highlights from the program, students commented on how much they enjoyed the teaching volunteers and how fun field trips to various partner sites were. Professionals from around the Commercial Real Estate community generously volunteered their time teaching classes for the program, while program partners such as Microsoft/CBRE and The Eight in Bellevue hosted site visits to their campuses.  

One major accomplishment of the cohort was re-designing the JetLab room, a space dedicated to career development at YouthCare’s Orion Center. The students put their time and energy into the renewal of this space, and we couldn’t be more thankful for their hard work and creativity! 

CRE Graduation Ceremony

We are incredibly grateful to our partner, Porter, for their help in launching the CRE program. Porter, a Seattle-based commercial design firm committed to “inspiring and delighting everyone who enters the spaces we help create”, was hard at work crafting curricula, enlisting industry professionals to volunteer, and securing offsite learning venues like Microsoft. Their collaboration with YouthCare stemmed from Porter’s On the Rise program, which focuses on equipping high school students with valuable skills in the realm of commercial real estate. 

Porter also hosted classes at their site, The Shop by Porter. LaCoda Miller, YouthCare’s CRE Program Coordinator, said: “One of the biggest thank-you’s we could give to Porter is allowing us to come into their space. Nothing made the clients feel more like they were a part of this career field than getting to feel like they were sitting at the table with the volunteers and presenters.” 

CRE graduate ceremony

One of the unique features of this program is its focus on including students in professional spaces where they can feel a sense of belonging and empowerment instead of the marginalization they often experience. When walking through Microsoft’s campus, one student commented on how instead of feeling intrusive, this time they felt like they belonged.  

“Coming from homelessness can be scary… a lot of people struggle with anxiety. A lot of people struggle with being able to speak up for themselves. Once you get out there and start joining this program, [it] can really help you be in that community which grows your skills, your community skills, and being able to talk to people more… it just makes me happy to be able to make that space comfortable for people in my community and myself.”

Chanel, CRE Program graduate 

CRE graduates from this first cohort will be moving on to internships at program partners Open Square and Expedia Group. As part of this collaboration, YouthCare is taking time to intentionally educate internship partners on how to support interns coming from a history of adversity by equipping partners with training on trauma-informed care, stress at the workplace, and more.  

CRE graduation ceremony

The CRE’s pilot program was an immense success, and we couldn’t be more excited for the future of the program. Kimberly Diaz-Smith, Social Impact Manager at Porter, commented that the program’s partnership with YouthCare was such a success because of the wonderful chemistry shared and the ability to cover such diverse ground between the two organizations. At YouthCare, we could not agree more. Tess Sebastian, Partnerships & Workforce Strategy Manager at YouthCare, remarked that it “couldn’t have been better and more collaborative…from the very beginning, it was clear that our intentions were very aligned.” 

The next CRE cohort will run for three months, beginning in November. If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact Tess Sebastian at 

YouthCare would also like to thank the following program partners who have supported the CRE program: 

Helix Design Group, Interior Architects, KW Commercial, Mary Keeney Designs, One Workplace, Port of Seattle, Skanska, Steelcase, Steph Palmer Design, Tenor Eng, Westlake Consulting Group