Discover untapped potential to boost student success and close equity gaps

The Student-Centered Design (SCD) team at Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) partners with higher education and training institutions to make systems and practices more responsive to the needs and interests of students. We dive into challenges, research, and develop solutions to support students to post-secondary and employment success. We center student voices and experiences in solution design.

Backed by SJI’s experience as a leading workforce intermediary, our versatile team brings domain knowledge, research, facilitation, and project management expertise to each of our collaborations.

To learn more, read about our approach, explore our service offerings, or look at a recent case study.

An advisor helping a student in a community or technical college student services office


The Student-Centered Design team was a critical thought partner that helped PCC assess and identify innovative solutions that would improve the student experience and make benefit access simpler and less stigmatized.

Kate Kinder, Former Dean, Portland Community College

The [Student-Centered Design] workshops offered amazing insight into student centered/person centered outreach and communication. The tools and skills gained from these workshops will no doubt enhance our communication/information delivery methods and increase engagement. Thank you!

Summer Gray, Career Coach and Resource Navigator, Southwestern Oregon Community College

[The Student-Centered Design team] helped all of us evaluate our processes and steps and determine a variety of ways to maximize the impact we can have on our students. Throughout our guided discussion times, we realized that we continually need to evaluate what we do and how we do it through the eyes of the students. Our basic desire is that we will effectively help our students, but sometimes our methods create barriers that we didn’t intend. [The Student-Centered Design team] helped us recognize those barrier areas and how to limit them.

Charla Wheeler, STEP Student Success Coach, Treasure Valley Community College

Our Approach

We use a blend of tools and techniques to get you from point A to point B

Two community or technical college staff members doing solution design activity using sticky notes

Improvement Science

Using small, rapid tests to make sustainable improvements

Human-Centered Design

Putting the needs of students, staff, and faculty at the center of program and system design

Applied Behavioral Science

Understanding how students behave and make decisions in real-life contexts

What We Offer

Practical tools, support, and insights to better understand and meet student needs

Improve your programs, identify hidden potential, and effectively utilize resources–below are ways in which we can partner to further your student success work and goals.

Student-Centered Program Assessment

Assess effectiveness and impact through an equity lens

Research Support

Learn about and understand students’ experiences to center their voices and interests

Collaborative Design

Co-design solutions to remove critical roadblocks for students

Process Improvement

Eliminate friction and “sludge” in your processes and systems

Career and technical education (CTE) college students raising their hands in a community or technical college classroom

Work In Action: A Case Study

Turning No-Shows Into Full Classrooms

A large education and training provider believed the intake process at one of its training centers was contributing to a large number of “no-shows” on the first day of class. The SCD team worked with the provider to develop a problem statement and hypothesis for the high number of no-shows, then vetted the hypothesis by surveying students, observing the intake process and classes, and reviewing recruitment, enrollment, and persistence data.

This process enabled us to pinpoint previously unidentified factors driving the no-show numbers, prompting a revision of the initial hypothesis. SCD and the provider then designed and tested a package of targeted interventions to address the key contributing factors. The results showed a statistically significant decline in no-shows when compared with the previous quarter.

About Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI)

SJI is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals from underinvested communities in building sustainable careers. We offer education and training opportunities, and also provide research, evaluation, and technical assistance to government agencies, higher education institutions, and community-based organizations. For over 25 years, we have been committed to improving systems and practices both regionally and nationally.

Seattle Jobs Initiative staff and partners collaborating together at an event.

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