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Seattle awards nearly $350,000 for environmental justice projects

Newly created Environmental Justice Fund will support 9 projects in 2019

The City of Seattle, through the newly created Environmental Justice Fund, awarded $347,525 for nine community-based projects to improve environmental conditions and respond to impacts of climate change. Funding was awarded up to $40,000 for projects that will be led by and benefit those most affected by environmental and climate issues: communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and Native people—including people with low incomes, youth, and seniors.

As one of the strategies advancing Seattle’s Equity & Environment Agenda, the Environmental Justice Fund was created with the understanding that the most effective environmental and climate solutions come from the community itself. The fund supports projects that honor the lived experiences of community members and that put them in positions of leadership to meaningfully participate in project design and implementation and to use their knowledge to influence the work.

“We need to honor the fact that not all Seattle residents benefit equally from our environmental achievements,” said Jessica Finn Coven, director of the Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment. “I’m pleased that we are able to support community-developed solutions that address environmental inequities in our city.”

Project proposals were reviewed by a team of five community members, some of whom also serve on the City of Seattle’s Environmental Justice Committee.

“It was exciting and gratifying to be part of the community grantmaking committee with other environmental justice advocates and to have the opportunity to support and amplify community-based solutions”, said Anastasia Ramey, grantmaking committee member, Seattle resident, and a descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. “The number of excellent project proposals we received reinforces the urgent need to invest directly in environmental work led by and for those who are most affected by inequities – native people, communities of color, immigrants and refugees.”

Overall, thirty-one proposals totaling $1,185,771 were received. Funding is provided by the City of Seattle and grants will be administered by The Seattle Foundation. Proposed projects represent a wide spectrum of ideas and activities, including arts, community education, food access, green jobs, mitigation, multi-generational activities, youth leadership and more. The organizations receiving funding and their projects are:

  • Cham Refugees Community
    An intergenerational project that includes a 16-month curriculum engaging elders and youth, including monthly workshops about mindful eating and the therapeutic, positive effects of gardening. The elder component will include mental health and education about nutrition; the youth component will include an educational science program in addition to gardening.
    A youth leadership program that includes a youth-run dinner program that brings together 50-60 youth once a week to cook an improvised dinner using fresh vegetables and inspirations from family traditions, and to lead each other in a series of activities and conversations focused on culture and food justice.
  • Na’ah Illahee Fund
    A program of climate- and environmentally-focused activities emerging out of their Yahowt Just Transition listening sessions. Activities will promote climate resiliency and will focus on permaculture, food sovereignty, just transition, and the arts.
  • Rainier Valley Corps
    A partnership between Rainier Valley Corps and Got Green to address the lack of diversity in the environmental movement by developing a pipeline of emerging leaders of color with a racial equity and intersectional lens. The Green Pathways Fellowship Program will recruit fellows of color who will be placed in pairs to work full-time at environmental organizations.
  • Somali Health Board
    A culturally-responsive, student-directed learning experience for Somali youth that focuses on environmental health. Activities will include educational workshops about environmental health, opportunities to learn to advocate for environmental justice and community volunteerism that exposes children to concepts of environmental preservation.
  • SPIARC (South Park Information and Resource Center)
    SPIARC staff and a cohort of promotoras will be trained on indoor air quality improvement best practices (mold prevention, non-toxic pest management, green cleaning) and work to inform and support residents of tenant rights and resources available to them in the City of Seattle. Activities will include development of effective environmentally-focused engagement tools and provision of healthy home kits to community members.
  • Seattle Globalist
    Seattle Globalist will create an investigative journalism fellowship program to train journalists from communities of color and immigrant communities to uncover environmental justice issues in the community and raise awareness about these issues to promote change. Each fellow will develop and complete an investigative story based on ideas from communities of color and immigrant communities.
  • Sustainable Seattle
    Sustainable Seattle’s RiSE (Resilience, Sustainability and Equity) program is a formal coalition of neighborhood leadership driving change in the frontline Seattle communities most at risk for climate disaster. This program serves neighborhoods historically excluded from environmental initiatives, or for whom solutions are prescriptive and focus more on the natural environment than root causes or correlations between environmental and community health.
  • Young Women Empowered
    The Y-WE Nature Connections program supports young women in engaging in environmental learning and becoming environmental stewards while having empowering experiences of being active in the natural world. Components include a youth-led Environmental Leadership Council; mentoring; youth-led food workshops, presentations and healthy meals generated by Y-WE; and STEM learning in real-world context through urban farming and habitat protection activities.