Doorway Project Year 2 Update

(December 2018)


Now halfway through our second year, the Doorway Project has continued to gather input from community members and service providers on the design and direction of a community cafe. Through our Summer and Autumn pop-up cafe events and direct engagement with youth and young adults via design interviews, we have developed a focused, collective envisioning of what the Doorway Project may look like in the U District going forward.

We’ve included a few key themes that we heard from youth during our interviews, some insightful quotes, and a goal-oriented Doorway Project menu for building empathy and sustainable service improvement and engagement across the University District.

Youth Interview Takeaways

● Direct UW collaboration helpful for developing relationships and projects through the community cafe space. This can help break down barriers that may prevent youth from seeking educational opportunities.

● Need to move away from a charity model that reinforced their ‘otherness’, and toward a peer support, strengths-based model where they could have a chance to offer support within their own community.

● Programming: ‘art nights’, open mic nights and movie nights help create community

● Safety: Consistency and structure within the space would help them feel safer.

● Resource connections: Mental health and job training resources often highlighted

updated Youth-led design of the Doorway Café

Doorway Cafe Design: Main community cafe space with glimpses into adjacent: group meeting, study and library rooms. (L to R)

Key Quotes

On the Doorway Project:

“My real worries are how long would this last. Is this something that would be a fleeting thing? Is this something that, as long as resources are available, but those are dependent on something you can't control. Those things are very worrisome as it seems like a cool project, but I don't know. It might be something that someone gets really used to and has to lose, that would really suck.

On the cafe design and needed resources:

“The spaces that I'm most interested in are spaces that would enhance one's sense of self...I've experienced a lack of identity within being homeless. Sometimes, some people feel free, but I think (including) any resource that gets someone feeling more like a person again. So, places that either has education opportunities in the back or places that offer work as well. That's really cool, places that offer work opportunities”

On hopes for the future:

I really hope for re-evaluation of self and role within our communities. So many people that I talk to...feel this sense of not belonging. Especially within the homeless community. For me, I feel like homelessness begins long before loss of a roof, so what are those issues? Really tackling that, really instilling that education back into institutions. Not to say that life is one big happy smile all the time, but there are ways that we can work on communicating and understanding one another through these types of services, sharing spaces like this (cafe).”

Goals of Doorway Project

To address the social determinants of youth homelessness in the University District through continuous, community-engaged collaboration between the University of Washington, service providers, and youth with lived experience. We aim to foster educational and economic opportunities as well as shift social norms around homelessness via creating:

Community Café:

● Physical space to serve as hub for service-learning as well as building community

● New model for employment opportunities and a pay-it-forward payment scheme


● Establish an RFP process for academic/community partnership funded service- learning projects for innovative solutions to address social determinants of homelessness

● Enhance UW health science and other professional schools’ student clinical placements to expand capacity of existing service providers as well as to transform future providers and practice

● Increase community-wide empathy for people marginalized by poverty and homelessness through development and dissemination of a free, web-based short video series, accompanying experiential activities, and advocacy and discussion guides