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Urban League Of Metropolitan Seattle Reactivates Young Professionals Program

By RayJaun StellyThe Seattle Medium

The Seattle Urban League’s Young Professionals (ULMS-YPs), an auxiliary group of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS), is re-establishing its roots in the Pacific Northwest. The organization, which took a brief hiatus during COVID is currently hosting join week, Feb. 5 – 12, where they are looking for young professionals to join them in support of the Urban League Movement through volunteering, philanthropy, and membership development.

Originally established in 2005 by Jeanette James, Gina Moore-Saunders, and Angela Brooks, SULYP provides opportunities for personal and professional development, networking, volunteering, and leadership. Membership is open to young professionals between the ages of 21 – 40 years old, who live in the Seattle King County area.

SULYP defines a ‘Young Professional’ as anyone between the ages of 21-40 who is committed to their career and personal development, regardless of the chosen occupation.

As part of the National Urban League’s Young Professional program, SULYP members actively support the Urban League by educating other young professionals, recruiting new members, furnishing young volunteers, sponsoring educational initiatives, and coordinating fundraising for scholarships and other community service projects in their communities.

Becoming a member of the program comes with a wide range of benefits, including invitations to exclusive member-only events, access to the private Facebook group, networking with community and business leaders, input on future young professionals’ activities, events, and committees, free tickets to the Urban League annual breakfast, and the membership dues are tax deductible.

Ashley Pugh, Director of Communication and External Affairs for ULMS, says that re-establishing SULYP will help fill a void for young professionals that want to positively impact their community.

“There aren’t too many opportunities for Black professionals in our age range (21-40) to meet, connect, and network amongst each other outside of the major employee networks like BAM, BAX, and BEN, which all require you to be working at those companies to be a part of,” says Pugh.

“We [re-launched SULYP because we] wanted to be a support system for local emerging leaders by providing them with opportunities for personal and professional development,” added Pugh. “We wanted to create another avenue of support for the affiliate within our community that aligns with key areas of empowerment, including education, youth, workforce development, public health, civic engagement, and housing.”

Dating back to the 1990’s, multiple Urban League affiliates recognized the need to prepare a new generation of young leaders to take the reigns of leadership of the Civil Rights movement, as they called on young African American men and women to participate and take an active leadership role in their local affiliate Urban League programs and activities.

When asked why she helped start SULYP, founding member Angela Brooks said it was to give emerging young professionals in Seattle and opportunity to network and to be involved in the community in an impactful way.

“Seattle Urban League Young Professionals was started to give young Black professionals in Seattle not only the opportunity to connect socially but to connect through service and support of the Urban League,” says Brooks. “It is truly a great organization to develop leadership skills and a powerful movement.

Now that the program has started back up, February 5 – 12 is ‘Young Professionals’ join week. During join week, SULYP is hosting two events, ‘Wind Down Wednesday’ on Feb 8 where people can learn more about what the organization does and who they do it for; and they’ll host a ‘Super Bowl Watch Party’ on Feb. 12, where non-members who sign up to become young professionals during the event will receive 50% off their membership dues.

According to Pugh, being a member is just one part of the program, but the real value is networking with like-minded individuals who share a commitment to improving our community.

“The end goal for our members is similar to the reasons why we decided to revamp the chapter to begin with,” says Pugh. “For them to feel a part of a dedicated community of like-minded Black professionals whom they can connect, network, and engage with; to access career and personal development opportunities to help them find success in their own personal endeavors; and for them to develop stronger ties in the community by supporting and uplifting the mission of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.”