Fundraising hasn’t met goals, so Seattle’s Union Gospel mission will cut several activity programs for vulnerable kids.
After falling short of donation goals, the Seattle Union Gospel Mission (UGM) will lay off more than a dozen permanent employees and shutter several local youth programs.
For decades UGM has provided aid and shelter to the homeless. Through its men’s shelter in Seattle’s Pioneer Square and countywide outreach teams, the faith-based nonprofit provides aid to thousands of homeless people every year.
More recently, UGM began providing activity and after-school programs for local children and teens in South Seattle. This week, staffers informed parents of participating kids that several of those programs — the Youth Reach Out Center, an after-school care program and an annual summer camp — will be shuttered.
About 260 kids in the Rainier Valley and other locations throughout King County participate in the programs each year.
Fundraising shortfalls and a growing pressure on its homelessness services forced the nonprofit into the cuts, said UGM President Jeff Lilley. Officials with the nonprofit, which is funded largely by private donors, had hoped to net $25 million in donations in 2017. Instead, UGM will end the fiscal year about $1.5 million short of its goal, Lilley said.
Thirteen of its employees who worked directly with the youth programs will be laid off as a result of the cuts — about 5 percent of staff. Another 15 positions from other departments that were already vacant are being eliminated.
“It was a painful decision,” Lilley said. “But we’re seeing more people living on the street, and there’s more demand for these services than we’ve seen in some time. So, it was either make cuts across the board and weaken every program we have, or move resources and lose programs that are vital but not keeping with the core of our work.”
Lilley said the cuts will allow the organization to reallocate resources on programs that provide aid to the homeless.
He said the organization has no plans to sell its offices on Othello Street, where many of its youth programs were housed. Instead, that part of the facility will be converted into a 100-bed emergency shelter for women and children.
Lilley said the organization is working hard to recruit another local group to take over its suite of youth programs.