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Thursday, June 8, 2023

Seattle Foundation Awards $12.6 Million To Advance Racial And Economic Equity In The Region

By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium

The Seattle Foundation recently announced the awardees of their Fund for Inclusive Recovery, which is designed to help advance racial and economic equity in the Puget Sound Region.

According to Seattle Foundation’s Chief Impact Officer Kris Hermanns, the organization awarded $12.6 million to organizations, particularly Black and Brown led organization, doing the work of building a safe and vibrant community. Monies from the Fund for Inclusive Recovery can be utilized as organizations see fit for programs, general operating expenses and projects in support of their community base building work.

In a release about the funding the organization stated, “The Seattle Foundation is pleased to announce that the Fund for Inclusive Recovery is awarding a total of $12.6 million to 21 organizations that are led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals – those with intimate knowledge of the obstacles their communities face. Organizations with a deep history of community justice and advocacy work will receive $200,000 a year for three years.”

Some of the Black and Brown organizations receiving funds include: Choose 180, Collective Justice, Families of Color, Open Doors for Multicultural Communities, Rainier Beach Action Coalition. In addition, grants were also given to organizations serving Black Immigrant Communities like the Partnership between Indian American Community Services, Eastside for All, Muslim Community Network Association, OneAmerica and Voices of Tomorrow.

Many of the organizations see this as an opportunity to fortify their services, to help build a sound financial foundation, and to continue to help shape families of color to be a force within the region.

“Funds from the Seattle Foundation will support us in building the capacity to build an engaged base of parents with a voice in policy,” says Christine Caine of Families of Color. “These funds will allow us do this effectively, shaping families of color in Seattle to be a powerful organizing force.”

The Rainier Beach Actions Coalition (RBAC), one of the award recipients, created a Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan, a partnership with the city where residents came together to identify their hopes and dreams for the development and well-being of their neighborhood. In executing the plan, RBAC hires Rainier Beach residents to implement the strategies laid out in the plan.

“We (RBAC) have a plan, we are organized, we have a focus to enhance the well-being of our residents in our neighborhoods,” says Gregory Davis, managing strategist for RBAC. “Through the realization of our plan this investment allows us to begin achieving our goals, we need more resources, this isn’t covering everything, but it is a start and it helps.”

The Seattle Foundation and its community partners view this opportunity as critical investments in the infrastructure and leadership for and of organizations to mobilize their base of support and prepare for future policy work.

“As we work to build back our region, centering [communities of color] ensures solutions go beyond pandemic recovery, address structural racism and inequities, and contribute to a future that is healthy, thriving, and prosperous for all,” said Hermanns. “These resources will further expand and sustain the capacity and infrastructure for groups to take on even more organizing, building community leadership, and engaging policymakers to reinvent our public structures and systems.”

“I have the privilege of working closely with our team to partner with donors and funders to invest in change led solutions,” says Hermanns. “For what are designed to drive impact in trying to address racism and advance racial justice and economic equity in our region.”

Since the beginning of the COVID Pandemic, the Seattle Foundation has been focused on the region’s response to COVID-19 and its recovery. Working with other governmental and private agencies, the Seattle Foundation helped to raise and allocate resources to the most vulnerable in our community, and was one of the first organizations in the nation to put together a COVID-19 Response Fund.

“Government, private business, community, and philanthropy, saw the early and devastating impact of the pandemic and came together and coalesce to move resources to vulnerable workers, families and individuals who were in need of immediate support,” says Hermann. “Food, housing, health care, education, and employment support. The pandemic made clear what we already knew was that our care and support systems are fragmented and, in many ways, broken and it made our ability to recover from the pandemic even harder.”

“While our entire community struggled with the immediate impacts of the pandemic, the Fund for Inclusive Recovery was a strong signal that ‘getting back to the status quo’ isn’t enough,’” said Neal Myrick, Global Head of Tableau Foundation, which was an early contributor to the Fund. “The disruption caused by COVID-19 is an opportunity for us to build a more equitable and prosperous Puget Sound for all who live here, and Tableau Foundation is proud to be a part of that effort.”

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