August 16, 2013 by Roseanne
If you live in the Seattle, WA area and are looking for fulfilling yoga and social justice work, you’re in luck: Street Yoga, a nonprofit which provides yoga and mindfulness tools to youth experiencing homelessness, poverty, addiction, abuse and trauma, is hiring an Assistant Director. The part-time position pays $13/hour.
The Assistant Director of Street Yoga’s Seattle office will support the work of the current Director, and then act as Interim Director while the Director is on maternity leave (from December until the spring – four or five months, which is not much time with a new baby). For $13/hour.
According to the job posting, the Assistant/Interim Director will be responsible for a whole long list of administrative, program and development duties, including strategic planning, managing the budget, providing financial reports, supporting volunteer teachers, planning workshops, organizing fundraisers, writing grants, and bolstering relationships with donors, yoga studios and business sponsors. Did I mention the pay is $13/hour?
This really isn’t about taking down Street Yoga – they’re a great organization with an important mission. Times are tough, and they run almost entirely on donations from individuals and businesses, grants, and revenue from workshops/trainings. For many years, it’s likely that founder Mark Lilly (who started the organization in Portland in 2002) didn’t even receive any salary for his hours and hours of work.
This is about starting a conversation about fair compensation for people who work in the service yoga community. There is service, but there is also the reality of urban North American existence. The community of people who provide yoga for underserved populations is at risk of underpaying the people who do the work.
Of course, this is a problem throughout the nonprofit field. As a commentor noted on the IAYB Facebook page, “Donors don’t want their money going to overhead, but people fail to understand that paying a fair wage to the staff is not only ethical, but also the best way to serve the mission with any sort of quality!”
Even by comparisons within the non-profit field, this is extremely low pay for a position with so much responsibility. The median salary for an Assistant Director of a nonprofit in Seattle (with two years experience in the field) is $44,000/year.
$13/hour for 15 hours/week is less than $800/month (before taxes). At full time capacity (40 hours/week), that’s just over $24,000/year. The position appears to offer no health or dental benefits, although it does include 45 hours (not days, hours) of vacation time.
Fortunately, $13/hour is a living wage for a single adult in Seattle (the cutoff is $9.64/hour). The position could draw somebody in their 20s, who loves yoga and has lots of energy, enthusiasm and drive, without a family to support. The problem, however, is that Street Yoga sets itself up to attract people with a certain amount of privilege as well.
The yoga service scene is still young and finding its feet. Organizations are still struggling with the basics of sustaining themselves. Let’s hope that Street Yoga continues doing the essential and groundbreaking work that it’s been doing for the past 10 years – and is able provide fair compensation for the people who carry out the work.