The Doorway Project is an initiative co-led by the University of Washington and YouthCare, an agency offering individualized services to young people experiencing homelessness in Seattle/King County. The Doorway Project works to address youth and young adult homelessness in the University District through centering youth well-being and agency in the development of emancipatory and creative programming. Although there exists a former iteration of the project, it has changed significantly under the guidance of Dr. Seema Clifasefi. In her first two years managing the project, the Doorway Project has engaged in community mapping, focus groups, and individual interviews with stakeholders to develop a Community Advisory Board (CAB) and a Youth Action Board (YAB). This CAB is composed of direct service providers, young adults with lived experience of homelessness, and UW staff and faculty, while the YAB is fully composed of young people currently experiencing housing instability.

The Doorway Project operates from a perspective of healing-centered engagement, amplifying the voices and experiences of YYAs with lived experiences of homelessness. Their approach is purposefully open-ended, designed to intentionally drive young adults towards long-term outcomes through a model of healing-focused support and creative programmatic engagement. Through these processes, they identified three main pillars of Healing Centered Engagement: Campus Engagement, Community Engagement, and Creative Engagement. 

Campus Engagement: 

Positioning the University of Washington as a part of the larger community and mutually responsible for the wellbeing and success of young people experiencing homelessness. 


  • Student Engagement: Creating, streamlining, and facilitating UW student engagement with hunger and homelessness. The Doorway Project hosts critical service-learning opportunities using education and action to address housing and food insecurity in Seattle. 
  • Educational Equity: Establishing and supporting a transfer and low-income receptive culture at the University of Washington
  • Equitable Research: Facilitating academic collaboration to provide high-impact research, evaluation, and community assessments.

Community Engagement 

Supporting and strengthening the connections that already exist in the community, to better unite them in a mission that serves the YYA experiencing homelessness.


  • Coordinated Engagement: Locating their creative engagement opportunities in pre-existing spaces that offer resources to youth experiencing homelessness. In this way, their programming serves as an entry point into therapeutic relationships with staff members who can assist with system navigation and case management. 
  • Facilitating Group Networks: Creating and sustaining formal and informal group networks with an emphasis on information sharing within the University District Neighborhood
  • Closing Gaps: Ending the revolving door of homelessness by addressing the transition period of young people to adult services

Creative Engagement 

Providing a holistic approach through art that empowers young people and helps build communities. The healing-centered engagement is to focus on the person’s well-being, being supportive, and be culturally grounded in talks of healing to build one’s identity. We believe that taking this approach changes the status quo and it empowers young adults to understand their own consciousness of their powers and reflecting on their experiences to heal. We have the Art Hive, The hair shop, Bloom, Real Talk Thursday, UDYC’s podcast, “bloom” youth-led community garden, and POC street art where students can pick which projects speak to them more so they can contribute to.

Doorway Project programs harness the power of creative engagement to bring dignity, awareness, and healing to the complex issues surrounding homelessness. Studies conducted in other social service and clinical settings have shown an association between engagement in healing-centered activities (e.g. artistic pursuits, community events, gardening, playing music) and increased well-being for adults. Ending youth homelessness will require both prevention efforts and rapidly responsive trauma-informed care. Healing-centered engagement builds on this two-pronged approach by moving beyond a focus on trauma, to strengthen the roots of well-being through the creation of programming that encourages both critical reflection and civic participation. 


  • Bloom: A youth-led community garden initiative aiming to reduce food insecurity through the building of an urban garden in tandem with education in social justice, ecology, and holistic wellness.  

  • Healing Pages Book Club: A book club developed by and for young people to come together in community and discuss literature that encourages critical thinking and deeper engagement with stories relevant to their identities. 

We have a resource fair on Friday, June 4th from 2 pm to 6 pm. We are partnering with U-District Community to offer personal protective equipment (PPE), Medical care, behavioral healthcare, menstrual supplies, medical care, veterinary care, and providing confidential HIV testing. We are also hosting a clothing drive and distributing clothes at this resource fair and we have a Covid-19 vaccination pop up with J&J. 

Like the community resources fair, there are many ways to be more involved with Doorway. We have more events coming up this year for the community and there are many ways to be apart of this. 

How to get involved:

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The Resolution To End Homelessness