New program aims to help underserved communities navigate unemployment benefits

Community meeting photo via Pexels.

Community organizations that help people in underserved communities file unemployment claims can learn more next week about a new program that aims to help.

The Washington State Employment Security Department will host a virtual applicants’ conference from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The conference is for organizations interested in the Unemployment Insurance Navigator Program.

Community organization “Navigators” who participate in the program will help potential claimants file unemployment claims. They will also help claimants better understand unemployment claim processes and related services. Organizations selected by the Employment Security Department will receive up to $500,000 to help their communities.

What Navigators will do

  • Conduct targeted outreach, education and support in communities that have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.
  • Help the Employment Security Department lower or remove existing barriersto unemployment benefits for people in disadvantaged communities.
  • Improve benefit availability and accessibility to all qualified Washington workers.
  • Receive training to ensure they understand how applying for and receiving unemployment benefits works.
  • Meet regularly with Employment Security staff (virtually or in person) to share best practices and review challenges.
  • Provide feedback and suggestions on how Employment Security can improve its services for everyone.

How to apply

Interested community organizations can apply for the program now through 11:59 p.m. PST on Sept. 29, 2023. Applicants must create a Washington’s Electronic Business Solution (WEBS) account. WEBS is a platform that allows businesses and other organizations to look up public agency solicitations for goods and services.

Community organizations will be selected once the Employment Security Department has reviewed all applications. For questions about the program or bidding process, contact

Other details

The virtual conference will be hosted through Microsoft Teams. Employment Security Department staff will provide an overview of the program and answer questions during the conference.

To join using your computer or device:

Use this link to join at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

To join using an audio-only phone call:

Call 564-999-2000 and enter the phone conference ID: 460219069#

To learn more about how Employment Security Department helps nonprofits and community partners, go to


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