A $75,000 grant from Seattle Foundation, through their Communities of Opportunity grant program, will make it possible for a group of community organizations surrounding the Yesler Terrace neighborhood to work collaboratively to address issues of economic equity, social justice and displacement in their communities.

Aaron Robertson, community programs officer with Seattle Foundation, noted that these community organizations made a strong case about their ability to effect collective impact.

The Communities of Opportunity award will go to Yesler Community Collaborative, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, InterIm Community Development Association, Centerstone and Capitol Hill Housing. They will work together to address important questions of equity and social justice in the International District, Central Area and Capitol Hill:

  • How do citizens and their government come together to sustain truly equitable and inclusive communities?
  • What kinds of community involvement, decision-making, policies, systems and relationships does it take to redress historic under-investment and institutional racism?
  • How does a community walk the fine line between community development and gentrification, and ensure that people of color, refugees, and other marginalized groups can succeed?
  • How can Seattle foster and sustain a safe, healthy, affordable place for low-income people in the center of the city with its access to opportunity?

Some of the projects and issues they are working on include:

  1. Policy and systems changes to speed up development and preservation of affordable housing
  2. Targeted investments to mitigate displacement of low-income residents.
  3. System changes to more effectively address the needs of small businesses owned by people of color, including preservation of affordable commercial space, as well as programmatic and resource needs.
  4. Policy and systems changes to improve health outcomes by addressing the upstream social determinants of health in the physical environment.

The grant will help these organizations build collaborative relationships with one another and with local government agencies to test a community-driven and integrated approach to shift the way local government factors equity into programs, policies and spending and move community-supported ideas forward.

The Seattle Foundation made a total of $1,226,000 in grant awards to 18 local efforts leading systems and policy change work in King County in this round of funding.