About Us

| Who we are and what we do.

Formed by Jon McGrath and Rachel Silves, Advancement Northwest helps businesses create a more diverse and complementary workforce. We are industry leaders in job placement of well qualified and highly motivated individuals with disabilities all over Northwest Washington. We provide companies with consultation in regard to workplace accommodations as well as information about any tax and other incentives that may apply to a particular hiring situation, and we support our clients (the employees) with individualized job coaching and behind the scenes support as needed. We care about our clients and the companies who hire them, and aim for “win-win” working relationships. Our success comes when we have matched client talents to your business needs.

You simply won’t receive more friendly, competent or prompt service than when you choose Advancement Northwest.


| Advancement Northwest offers several services

Who we serve:

Advancement Northwest serves motivated and qualified job seekers. We currently hold contracts with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Whatcom County Health Department to help individuals with all types of disabilities overcome unique challenges to obtaining employment. We provide assessment, job placement, and job retention services which are described in more detail below. We serve clients in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island County.

Our specialty is in helping our clients identify the unique skills and strengths that set them apart from other job seekers. We then help them become connected with the right employer. If your company is interested in creating a more diverse workforce and learning about the tax and other incentives to do so, please drop us a line using our “contact us” page.

Specific Services:

Advancement Northwest offers customized training for a variety of job seekers. Our training focuses on client empowerment and self-discovery process.

Assessment Services for Job Seekers
We offer Community Based Assessments and Trial Work Experiences through a contract with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for qualified individuals. Assessments are designed to help job seekers determine what jobs or careers are suitable for their skills and interests. Using this information can be helpful when beginning the job search process.

Job Placement Services For Job Seekers
Our job placement services help job seekers in a variety of ways. We begin with an extensive intake interview to learn more about the individual’s work experiences and challenges they have faced in finding appropriate work. We then use a strength based approach to help job seekers put their best foot forward. We can provide intense job development, and/or provide support behind the scenes. All services are individualized to suit the needs of the client.

Job Retention Services For Employed Individuals
Job retention contracts are designed to help both employer and employee. We provide support to businesses by helping them learn the most effective ways of supporting their new employee to assure they reach their maximum potential. We can also provide consultation around workplace accommodations. We also support our clients (the employee) to perform their best through individualized job coaching or behind the scenes support.


| What people are saying about us.

Quotes from Employers who have hired our clients:

“In early summer of 2013, Jon McGrath introduced his job placement program for people with disabilities to me with clear information, goals, support and potential candidates to hire. After several discussions we hired a young man, who has both physical and cognitive disabilities, for part time work in and around our retail shop. The road was not always smooth for our new hire, this being his first regular, paying job, but Jon was there every step of the way coaching and supporting him, his family and our staff to build up our new employee’s confidence in his abilities and help to improve his work ethic. I personally dedicated a lot of time to Jon and our new staff member in the beginning, but he quickly became a self-starter and required less and less direction from our staff or Jon. It’s been wonderful helping our new employee get a foot in the ‘real world’ and, overall, my management team has been able to focus on larger, more complex projects with he and Jon’s continued support. I would highly recommend Jon and Advancement Northwest’s services! We will continue his part time employment and will surely consider other candidates with disabilities in the near and far future.”

Jeremy Wilson
Equipment Shop Manager and Guide
American Alpine Institute
Bellingham, WA

“itek Energy was approached by Jon McGrath of Advancement Northwest about placing one of his clients in our facility. I was a little hesitant about utilizing his services placing long term unemployed workers. However Jon was very thorough in explaining the process as well as the advantages not only to our business but also to his client. After I decided to place one of his clients, Jon was very helpful in the process of transitioning his client into our production floor. He was instrumental in the evaluation and documentation needed to ensure his client’s success in the tasks assigned. Jon was here on a regular basis to follow-up not only with his client, but to make certain that we at itek were still happy with his clients performance.

Six months later and I feel it was a great decision to place one of his clients. Michael, his client, has turned into one of our most dedicated employees making a contribution every day he is on the job. I would highly recommend the services of Advancement Northwest and will gladly use them again when the opportunity exists.”

Eric Schueler
Director of Operations
itek Energy, Inc.
Bellingham, WA

“I really enjoyed working with both Jon and Rachel and their Advancement Northwest clients. I found that Jon and Rachel prepared their clients well for interview, offering enough support as needed but able to step back and let their clients shine on their own. They followed up ensuring that everything was going well when a hire was made and consistently offered support to both the employer and the client to ensure a successful placement. It is very obvious that they care for each and every relationship they cultivate and I am proud to have had them as a partner”

Lijanne Stevens
Human Resources Assistant
Alpha Technologies

Quotes from Human Service Professionals:

“You are both always in touch about what is going on and keep us in the loop consistently.”

“I’m thrilled about how quickly you have been able to arrange assessment sites, and there is only two of you!”

“In spite of a tough economy you’ve been able to help our customers.”

“I wish we could clone you. I don’t recommend CRPs (Community Rehabilitation Providers) to my clients, I have them choose, but when I have another counselor or other members of the community, I always recommend your services first.”

“I’m impressed with the services you’ve provided this year, particularly in your first year of operations. I appreciate your on-line communication with your plans for service/billing/etc. it makes doing business much easier for us. The only thing better would be to have more of you! Thanks!”

“Good job! The two of you hit the road running. Your professionalism has been exemplary. Thanks!”

Quotes from our Clients (job seekers):

“Totally satisfied with the service I received from both Rachel and Jon and very glad I got to know them as friends. I would just like to add that the service was outstanding, totally professional but also as important personally suited to me. I felt very happy and comfortable with the service. ” Jim L.

“I just want to say a huge thanks for helping me to believe in myself and get and maintain gainful employment.” Dan M.

“Rachel did a very thorough and professional job and still kept it fun.” David C.

“I really am happy with the outcome and enjoyed working with Jon.” Louis D.

A letter from one of our favorite clients!

My name is James Ley and I am a recent client of Advancement N. W. owned by Rachel Silves and Jon McGrath. I am writing to express my deepest gratitude to them both for their professional assistance with my job search and ultimate landing of a great job with Saturna Capital Corp. located in Bellingham, WA.

They are both extremely professional and dynamic people who know how to get results and open the right doors for job seekers. They helped me upgrade my resume and cover letters and helped me to focus my job search and polish my interview skills. It wasn’t very long before I started getting interviews with the right kind of companies and actually starting to see positive results.

It was a great pleasure working with them and getting to know them and seeing for myself that they were determined to get me back to work in a good situation. I now work full time with Saturna Capital Corp. a great company with a great future and hopefully long term employment and growth for myself. I highly recommend them to any job seeker who is eager for success in their job search. I can not say enough good things about them and I will always be very grateful for all their help with my job search. In closing I would just like to say that I know they will be hugely successful, they are already building a very impressive record of success with all their clients. My very best wishes and gratitude to them both and continued success.


James P. Ley

The Team

| Who we are
Jon McGrath

Jon McGrath

Jon McGrath has lived and worked in Whatcom County since 1995. A graduate from Western Washington University’s Woodring College of Education, Jon has worked in the human service field for over a dozen years. He got the opportunity to manage a vocational rehabilitation program based in Bellingham, and found his niche in helping job seekers with disabilities become connected with employers. Specializing in job placement, job retention and workplace assessments, Jon especially enjoys the satisfaction of making a good job match and helping others attain their employment goals. In late 2009, Jon began Advancement Northwest with the mission of providing professional service to job seekers and local employers.

Rachel Silves

Rachel Silves

Rachel Silves graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in Community Health in 2006, and since then has been working in the vocational rehabilitation field. Rachel specializes in working with clients to develop individualized employment plans to achieve competitive and gainful employment. Throughout development of these plans, she emphasizes client empowerment and self determination. Rachel also has a background in Adult Education and Training. She is certified to teach Dependable Strengths and Workstrides, trainings designed to assist participants in identifying their greatest core strengths and how to market those strengths to employers; CPR/First Aid, and various trainings on topics such as case management, vocational planning, vocational assessment, job development, and job coaching. Lastly, in 2009, Rachel completed her Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling through Texas Tech University where she developed an educational foundation to supplement her practical experience. She partnered with Jon in early 2010 as he was starting Advancement NW.

Johanna Stulting

Johanna Stulting

After graduation from the University of Southern California with a BA in Psychology in 2009, Johanna worked in the community mental health field for three years before moving to Bellingham and joining Advancement Northwest. Johanna has a strong interest in mental health and well-being and believes that suitable and fulfilling employment is an important piece in the overall picture of wellness. She especially enjoys assisting client in achieving their full potential at work.

Olivia VanNatta

Olivia VanNatta


Olivia VanNatta attended Western Washington University and graduated with a BA in Human Services. Olivia has experience and knowledge of working with individuals with disabilities in the Bellingham community since 2014. She enjoys supporting individuals with disabilities to accomplish goals and to live independent lives. Olivia believes individuals with disabilities can find independence through employment in the community.


| Links and other resources

Links for job seekers:

WorkSource (A publicly funded job search site)

Indeed (Job search engine)

Links for employers:

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (Tax credit available to employers)

On the Job Training (Financial support to employers during training period)

Hiring People with Disabilities (Compilation of resources and information from the Small Business Administration)

Advancement NW documents:

Mission and Values

Client’s rights and responsibilities

Business Code of Conduct

Advancement 2013 Annual Report:

2013 Annual Report


Contact us by phone:
(360) 685-4241

Mailing address:
Advancement Northwest
1313 E. Maple St., Suite 201, PMB 564
Bellingham, WA 98225

Fax #
(888) 475-7160

We can also be reached via email using the contact form below:

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