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Friday, May 7, 2021

Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County Launches Black-Led Community Investment Fund

Today, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County (BLMSKC) — a grassroots, volunteer-run, social-justice nonprofit organization focused on the empowerment and liberation of Blacks and other people of color through advocacy and direct action – announced the launch of the Black-Led Community Investment Fund with nearly a quarter-million dollars in grants to seven local, community-based organizations. Additionally, it endorsed a slate of demands made by the King County Equity Now Coalition for re-purposing underused public lands.

Both efforts underscore BLMSKC’s imperative to support Black-led organizations that have long worked to serve the local community.

The Black-Led Community Investment Fund was formed to direct recent donations back to the community. Of this first grants round of $245,000, $170,000 was raised in connection with the June 12 March of Silence, which organizers now estimate drew 85,000 people to the streets of Seattle and mobilized thousands of people across Washington state. Additional money was raised by the board.

The Seattle Medium Newspaper and 1420 AM KRIZ radio stations were among the organizations receiving donations. Both organizations were awarded $15,000 grants to their general fund from BLMSKC to support their “efforts to support the Black community of King County, and the larger fight for Black liberation within our nation.”

In their award letter BLMSCK stated, “As our nation faces an unprecedented time of focus on the Black community’s battle against systemic racism, it is more vital than ever that Black led organizations support one another spiritually, vocally, and financially. Now is our chance to ensure radical change for the future of every Black life across Washington state. The Board of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County is honored to work beside you in this effort. We hope this gift enables your organization to sustain and expand the work you have done to transform the lives of Black folx in our communities.”

Rev. Harriett Walden

In addition, the grants announced by BLMSKC include lead gifts to Mothers for Police Accountability and King County Equity Now Coalition.

Led by Rev. Harriet Walden, Mothers for Police Accountability (MPA) has been leading and healing the Seattle community and holding the justice and police systems accountable for three decades. The Investment Fund will grant MPA $25,000 to support Rev. Walden’s leadership in determining the immediate and long-term future of the East Precinct of Seattle Police Department, whose history is rooted in Black-led organizing.

King County Equity Now Coalition, is a cadre of long-standing Black-led community organizations in King County. It will receive a grant of $50,000 to continue to support the basic and emergency needs of Black children and youth in the Central District.

Additionally, grants were also made to legal and political organizations serving the Black trans community, the Lavender Rights Project ($50,000) and Black Trans Task Force ($75,000), and another local media outlet the South Seattle Emerald ($15,000).

King County Equity Now Coalition’s demands focus on maximizing the community impact of currently underused public spaces, as well as reinvesting some of the Seattle Police Department budget for community benefit. Their demands include:

• The decommissioned Fire Station 6 on 23rd & Yesler become William Grose Center for Enterprise, per the City of Seattle Equitable Development Plan.

• The vacant Sound Transit Lot on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. & S. Angeline St. become the Youth Achievement Center.

• The Paramount Nursing Home, formally Black-owned and recently acquired by Washington State, revert to Black-community ownership.

• The Seattle Housing Authority Operations Site on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. & Dearborn become affordable housing.

• A halt to all predatory development in the Central Area and other historic areas of color.

• The establishment of a $500 million anti-gentrification, land acquisition fund to help the Black community acquire property in the Central Area and support Black economic development. The fund shall include:

  1. Technical assistance resources for Black contractors, to ensure equitable participation opportunities in the development of projects in their community.
  2. Access to capital and culturally-responsive business development training for small businesses to grow their businesses by participating on training for small businesses to grow their businesses by participating on public projects.
  3. A displacement mitigation fund for property owners and small businesses that have endured redlining

• Redistribution of $180 million from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) budget. Seattle faces a $300 million budget shortfall due to COVID-19. Instead of defunding education or scaling back on much-needed social services in a recession, Seattle City Council must reduce SPD’s $363 million budget by at least half to help cover the City’s deficit. This permanent, annual cut should lead to increased investment in Black-led, community-based organizations.

The complete list of demands can be found on the King County Equity Now Coalition’s website https://www.kingcountyequitynow.com.

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