Local Treasures with Pia: Teaching purposeful direction to young people

Spokane, Washington – Founded by Tyler Lafferty, an entrepreneur who has built five successful companies over the last 20 years, Slingshot is a program that works with students to help them find the right career path. The path that’s right for them.

“We really try to push that into the kids,” said executive director Lisa White. “The students know exactly what to say to get applause, but it may not be what they are really dreaming of doing.”

Slingshot recently got some funding from the Avista Foundation to do more outreach to local schools and youth organizations.

White said that Slingshot has met with many college students who went away for two years, but then the pandemic happened and they returned home.

“They are feeling fearful, and they are feeling lost,” White said. “Many of them say that they are paralyzed by fear when they have to tell their family and friends that college did not work out for them.”

Slingshot offers different courses – like a six week intensive coach program – and the goal is that any youth will have access to a program, either by paying a fee or by getting a scholarship.

“There is a lot of introspection in our program. We want the youth to get to know themselves and find out what it is they really want to do,” White said. “And then we encourage them to do as many job shadows and informational interviews as they can in the area where they want to work.”

She added that some dreams change, once the students have seen what their dream job really is like.

“They get to taste it, smell it, touch it, and at the same time they build their professional network,” White said.

Slingshot works with youth between 15 and 25 years of age.

White has a 28-year background with Spokane Public Schools and she was part of the launch of Slingshot.

“The pandemic changed everything. They are many jobs where you can work anywhere in the world,” White said. “That’s huge. Now how do you engage young people to get into those careers?”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $13 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.

Visit www.helloslingshot.org to learn more about the program or make a donation to help a young person get into Slingshot.

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