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Seattle Awards Over $500,000 For Community-Led Projects that Advance Environmental Justice

2020 Grants Are Largest-Ever Amount Awarded through the City’s Environmental Justice Fund

Contact: Lylianna Allala, Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment, 206-276-4102

The Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, in partnership with Seattle’s Environmental Justice Committee, is pleased to announce $515,000 in funding will be awarded to 10 community organizations for projects that will advance environmental justice in Seattle. Funding of up to $60,000 will be awarded to projects led by and benefiting those most impacted by environmental and climate issues, including communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and Indigenous people.

“Here in Seattle, we must confront the intersecting crises of climate change, COVID-19, and systemic racism by making real investments in Black, Indigenous and people of color communities,” said Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “The Environmental Justice Fund is investing in community-led projects that honor the lived experience of our residents and get us closer to achieving environmental justice.”

“The Environmental Justice Grant Fund has been essential in supporting our community members during the pandemic, as it has highlighted the struggles that residents and business owners have gone through over the past year,” said Tom Im, Deputy Director of InterIM CDA, and an Environmental Justice Fund grantee. “The City has been supportive in providing our project with additional time and flexibility, especially in light of the crisis we are facing.”

The Environmental Justice Fund was created as part of the implementation of Seattle’s Equity & Environment Agenda. It is overseen by Seattle’s Environmental Justice Committee, a group of dedicated community leaders whose goal is to deepen the influence of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and to help shape Seattle’s environmental policies and work.  

“I was deeply inspired and honored to participate in the community review process, which was both a very gratifying and very difficult process,” said Karia Wong, Environmental Justice Committee member and grant-reviewer. “I was thrilled to read each proposal which showed the dedication and commitment of each community group to advancing environmental justice.

Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative, managed by the Office of Planning and Community Development, matched $250,000 to bring the total Environmental Justice Fund to $515,000 in 2020, the most-ever awarded to grantees. This funding supports shared goals of both initiatives to close racial disparities in food sovereignty, environmental, and community health, while promoting culturally appropriate healing and methods of community leadership, engagement, programming, and policy development.

“Seattle’s Black, Indigenous, and communities of color are vibrant, creative, and resourceful, and must be centered in developing solutions,” said Lylianna Allala, Climate Justice Director with the Office of Sustainability & Environment. “I am thrilled we were able to double the amount of funds awarded to grantees this year, but the need far outpaces the available funds. We will continue working to identify and allocate resources to support community-led environmental justice projects.”

Overall, 46 proposals totaling nearly $2.5M were received. Proposed projects represented a wide spectrum of ideas and activities, including arts, community education, food access, green jobs, mitigation, climate multi-generational activities, youth leadership and more.

The organizations receiving funding and their projects are:

Black Farmers Collective – $60,000
This proposal will expand organizational capacity and provide watering infrastructure at Yes Farm – a community garden, farmer co-op, and community gathering space – that will expand their capacity to grow food and sustain crops that feed their community.

Chief Seattle Club – $60,000
Sovereignty Farm connects homeless American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Apprentices to green jobs and is linked to the Good Medicine Café – a Traditional Foods Café in Pioneer Square. This proposal supports farming activities as part of their workforce development program. Good Medicine Café will open in October 2021 featuring a Traditional Foods menu, with produce harvested from Sovereignty Farm and ingredients sourced from local tribes and Native Farmers. The Café, a social enterprise staffed by homeless AI/AN apprentices, will educate patrons about indigenous foods, and host a monthly Indigenous Farmer’s Market.

East African Senior Meal Program – $60,000
The Environmental Justice Urban Farming project will resume and expand the East African Senior Meal Program at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands which has been on hold due to COVID-19. This program serves East African seniors through weekly opportunities to: grow food using regenerative practices, care for the wetlands adjacent to Lake Washington, share a healthy community meal, access to culturally appropriate foods, and access educational and civic engagement opportunities.

FEEST will provide living wage stipends for youth leading critical school food work in Seattle Public Schools. Youth will lead solutions at the intersection of health and well-being to address emergency school food response, housing, policing, and coordination with school food partners. FEEST will convene community forums to bring together youth leaders, direct service organizations, community partners, and school food decision-makers to directly address the gaps in food access for low income youth of color and bring forward youth-driven solutions. This funding supports capacity building support to build infrastructure to develop effective digital organizing strategy because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Got Green – $60,000
This project supports engagement efforts that contribute to community led climate resilience planning and educational workshops at the intersection of climate justice, health, displacement, and emergency.  This work will inform their goal of establishing a resilience network that Black, Indigenous and communities of color can connect with in a climate emergency.

Hmong Association of Washington – $40,000
The proposal will directly address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hmong farmers through their “Hmong Vegetable Farmers Visibility” Project. This intergenerational project will connect Hmong farmers with Hmong youth to share traditional farming knowledge through storytelling and virtual programming.

Lake City Collective – $60,000
This community empowerment project in the Little Brook neighborhood will focus on various environmental justice and sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) factors in the area, making this information easily accessible to the community, and creating an Environmental Justice Action Plan through a community-led visioning process to improve social and environmental conditions in Little Brook.

The Doorway Project – $22,300
This proposal will launch Bloom, a new place-based educational internship aimed at developing critical consciousness around food justice and homelessness. An existing youth-led garden at the University District Youth Center will serve as a gathering place for a cohort of young adults experiencing homelessness to learn about food systems, social justice and community organizing through a climate justice framework.

Unkitawa – $60,000
Through Unkitawa’s Indigenous Wellness Program, this proposal aligns food and medicine sovereignty goals. In partnership with the Duwamish Tribe, The Duwamish Longhouse Medicine Garden will be a hub of traditional medicines and knowledge that will serve as a space to gather and share resources. This project will also include a home-based garden component to connect community to gardening practices that center an Indigenous lens.

Villa Comunitaria – $60,000
This project will support ongoing food production through the Salsa de la Vida program located at Marra Farm. Activities include soil remediation and growing the Community Supported Agriculture pilot launched in 2020. In response to COVID-19, production and distribution of traditional herbs will be increased to meet the needs of the Latinx communities in South Park and Seattle via Traditional Medicine Home Kits.