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Youth Merchant Fleet

Youth Merchant Fleet Program

UPWA connects local businesses with enterprising youth to create memorable waterfront attractions. Independently operated concession boats provide a fusion of food and maritime heritage to enrich the lives of dockside patrons and youth merchants alike.

The program is designed to create seasonal work/education opportunities that provide maritime entrepreneurial experiences for teenagers and young adults while engaging the public to build awareness of local foods and cultural heritage.

More than half of all new jobs in the US are created through small businesses. UPWA is working to help fill a gap left by socialistic education curriculums by providing direct business experiences for motivated youth and young adults. Participants learn the value of capitalism by operating real world micro-enterprises that provide elements of risk, reward and production incentives that are commensurate with their efforts.

The Youth Merchant Fleet program provides an opportunity for waterfront communities to embrace maritime culture. Retail market boats are a long standing tradition in many seaports and shoreside villages around the world where dockside patrons experience fresh local foods.

Prior to roads and rails, Puget Sound was a bustling highway of merchant vessels of all kinds. Fishing boats, farm boats, store boats, camp supply boats and native canoes plied the local waterways and transacted along the community piers and beaches of the region.

Merchant boats can provide a worthwhile attraction at public waterfront venues--bringing colorful character and activities for all to enjoy.

The Youth Merchant Fleet program debuted in 2012 with two small historic vessels: the Seattle Taco Boat (in partnership with local restaurateurs) and an "honor box" produce boat stocked by local farmers. The vessels worked in conjunction with the FarmBoat Floating Market program--offering shoreside visitors a glimpse of maritime heritage traditions along with healthy local foods.

A dozen small antique vessels are currently available through the CedarWave heritage restoration program. Our goal is to develop a way for youth to become involved with creating their own work opportunities while learning entrepreneurial skills in a maritime environment.

UPWA supports the development of merchant boat programs for the following reasons:

1.) Providing entrepreneurial experiences and education for youth and adults.

2.) Providing opportunities for small businesses to partner with and mentor entrepreneurial minded youth and young adults.

3.) Exposing youth and young adults to potential future maritime employment careers.

4.) Activation of public waterfront sites.

5.) Adding vibrancy and attraction to shoreline communities.

6.) Building awareness and desire for responsible human use of maritime waterways.

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Funding Revenue Source:

Market vendors fees, corporate sponsors, FarmBoat Foods Co., public and private donations, and grants.