The City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) is pleased to announce $750,000 will be awarded through the Environmental Justice Fund (EJ Fund) to 13 community-led projects designed to benefit those most impacted by environmental and climate inequities, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color, immigrants, refugees, people with low incomes, youth, and elders.
“From December flooding to July heatwaves, it’s communities on the frontline that are experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change. Advancing solutions in direct partnership with communities means driving equitable, forward-thinking climate action and real resiliency improvements informed by those most impacted. The City’s support for these 13 organizations is another step toward building a healthy, sustainable future for all residents, and by expanding the Environmental Justice Fund to nearly $2 million for 2023 and 2024, we can further invest in taking on environmental and climate inequities.”Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell
The Environmental Justice Fund was developed in 2017 as part of the City’s Equity & Environment agenda to provide grants to community-led projects that improve environmental conditions, respond to impacts of climate change and get us closer to achieving environmental justice. Since its launch, the EJ Fund has awarded four grant cycles totaling over $1.8 Million to 28 community-based organizations, whose projects are led by or are in partnership with communities of color impacted by environmental injustices.
“The Environmental Justice Fund is a vital tool to support community-focused projects that are focused on alleviating past and future environmental issues that arise in our communities. This funding will allow us to hire a new position, of Land Restoration Coordinator, to support Indigenous youth programming and support land restoration efforts.”Mike Tulee, Executive Director of United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, a newly awarded Environmental Justice Fund grantee
Overall, OSE received 54 proposals totaling nearly $3.8M. Proposals focused on a range of climate and environmental justice topics including climate resilience planning, environmental outreach and education, youth leadership, and organizational capacity building.
“Communities most impacted by the climate crisis play a critical leadership role in designing creative and transformative solutions that are informed by lived experience and rooted in ancestral and cultural practice. Through the Environmental Justice Fund, we are proud to invest in growing the capacity of community groups and organizations to lead, collaborate, educate, and tell stories that can broaden and strengthen strategies for environmental justice.”Lylianna Allala, Climate Justice Director at the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment
The proposal review process is community centered, a cornerstone of the Fund. Select members of the Environmental Justice Committee and the Green New Deal Oversight Board served on the six-member Community Review Team. Over three months, the Review Team collectively dedicated over 240+ hours to reviewing proposals, meeting with eligible grantees to gain a deeper understanding of the proposed projects, and deliberating funding recommendations.
“As a representative of a community directly impacted by racial, economic, and environmental injustices serving on the Green New Deal Oversight Board, I was thrilled to be part of the Environmental Justice Fund Review Team and was amazed by the volume and breadth of these proposals. There is a vast array of community-led environmental justice projects here in Seattle that need support and funding. I am glad that we have an opportunity to continue making investments and commitments to community to meet the challenge of the climate crisis.”Hibo Sahal, one of the reviewers from the Green New Deal Oversight Board
Five organizations (Beacon Hill Council, Black Farmers Collective, El Centro de la Raza, Sound Generations, and Wa Na Wari) are past recipients of the EJ Fund. Funding these proposals deepens the relationship and investment in their work and within their communities.
The organizations receiving funding and their projects are:
Beacon Hill Council – $75,000
The project focuses on engaging BIPOC communities to identify culturally and linguistically competent organizations with facilities in Beacon Hill that can serve as community climate resiliency centers. Beacon Hill Council seeks to educate and engage immigrant and refugee BIPOC communities on climate impacts and to understand where they might seek climate refuge in Beacon Hill. The project will also engage culturally and linguistically competent organizations to explore being a community climate resiliency center and ensure they receive technical assistance for conversion planning and cost estimation.
Black Farmers Collective – $65,000
The grant would support the organization to build organizational structure for the long-term sustainability of their work to support Black farmers and the broader community. Funds would support the farm crew’s time and leadership development opportunities as well as adding a part-time administrative staffer to manage operations. This added staff capacity will provide Black Farmers Collective the ability to create security and stability within their staff to build the groundwork towards self-determination, food sovereignty, and Black liberation.
El Centro de la Raza – $60,000
Beacon Hill residents, many of whom are immigrants, refugees, and identify as BIPOC, experience respiratory health issues due to air pollution from roads, aircraft, and oil-heated homes. For this reason, El Centro de la Raza aims to conduct outreach and education to Beacon Hill residents, primarily BIPOC, immigrants and refugees, about the environmental and health impacts of oil-heating and to connect them to resources that can support future conversions from oil heat to electricity. This effort aligns with one of the City priorities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from residential buildings and to improve community health.
Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS) – $55,000
ECOSS aims to engage the Latinx immigrant/refugee communities, including immigrants form Central America, South America, Mexico, and those identifying as Indigenous, to co-create outdoor experiences that meet their needs and interests. Through this process, ECOSS will develop leadership opportunities and provide storytelling opportunities for participants to amplify their voices and experiences as they feel empowered to reconnect with nature.
FEED Seven Generations – $75,000
The grant would support the organization’s Native youth-led project. The project would include developing educational enrichment courses for school-age youth and conducting a youth needs assessment focusing on the culturally significant and traditional foods to enhance health and wellness of the community, youth, and families and strengthen local native food systems.
Rainier Avenue Radio – $60,000
This project aims to create awareness about environmental justice issues through various media including long form videos, audio vignettes, and community meetings to highlight the disparate ways in which communities are impacted by environmental issues. Rainier Avenue Radio will create a platform for community members to share their experiences and build awareness about environmental justice.
Restaurant 2 Garden – $48,815
The “Restaurant 2 Garden” project is a decentralized, hyperlocal system that transforms local restaurant food waste into high quality and safe compost for elder AAPI gardeners to grow culturally appropriate foods. The project is based out of the Danny Woo Community Garden (DWCG) in the Chinatown-International District (C-ID). The project will serve the diverse residents of the CID who face a myriad of environmental risks such as food insecurity, lack of green space, poor air quality, higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
Somali Community Services of Seattle – $61,870
The grant would support project Diyaari to serve Seattle’s Somali community (immigrants, refugees, and family members) most of whom live in Rainier Beach. The organization will focus on sharing information about how to prevent, manage, and recover from harm caused by climate change-related disasters. Additionally, the organization will provide individual assistance for their community members focused on disaster preparation planning and implementation.
Sound Generations – $66,000
This project will support Sound Generations to expand their programming for East African elders from NE Seattle and Rainier Beach who attend the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. Elders will participate in farm and wetland maintenance, they will share in community meals, and participate in civic and social engagement opportunities focused on various topics including climate change impacts on health and farming activities. The programming aims to build awareness about environmental and climate justice while building community cohesion for a community that often experiences isolation.
South Seattle Emerald – $60,000
South Seattle Emerald (SSE)’s mission is to amplify the authentic voices of South Seattle-for, by, and to the community through restorative journalism that seeks to facilitate community healing and wholeness. Funding will support SSE to grow their capacity by contracting more freelance reporters who will specifically cover community-centered and community-rooted environmental justice stories.
United Indians of All Tribes Foundation – $74,500
The grant will support capacity building by funding a newly developed position at UIATF called the Bernie Whitebear Land Restoration Coordinator. This position will serve two strategic priorities of the Foundation including the expansion of critical partnership between UIATF and Na’ah Illahee Fund, a Native-led organization currently providing land restoration technical assistance to UIATF’s Traditional Medicine Program Manager, and investment in land-based programming and infrastructure to sustain access to traditional plant knowledge for urban Indigenous youth.
Wa Na Wari – $40,000
Wa Na Wari’s BLOOM was created to be a fun, hands-on, outdoor environmental justice, and food sovereignty program. Their work helps future generations of youth and young adults to learn the science and culture of healing arts principles in urban food/environmental systems and their meaningful connection with Indigenous Knowledge systems and their own cultural backgrounds including ancestral knowledge. Funding would add organizational capacity through a paid program manager role who would lead BLOOM efforts including soil remediation and a youth summer fellowship program.
Wing Luke Memorial Foundation – $33,815
The Wing Luke Museum will develop and implement a community-based process to plan and design public space activation and arts integration at the site of the historic Eng Family Homestead (recently purchased from the original owners by the Wing Luke Museum) and adjacent Canton Alley in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID). The public space activation includes an outdoor yard and garden at the historic Eng Family Homestead and extension of Canton Alley south to Lane Street and connecting with the Donnie Chin International Children’s Park. This project will specifically focus on community engagement for the planning and design of the outdoor space for the community.