Find Posts By Topic

City of Seattle’s Environmental Justice Fund Awards $1 Million in Grants for 17 Community-Led Projects, Largest Amount Ever Granted 

Duwamish River Opportunity Fund Awards Additional $271K to Organizations That Improve the Health and Quality of Life of Duwamish Valley Residents 

Seattle, WA – The City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment (OSE) is excited to announce $1,000,000 will be awarded through the Environmental Justice Fund (EJ Fund) to 17 community-led projects, and an additional $271,557 will be awarded through the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF) to eight projects that benefit the health and quality of life of Duwamish Valley residents.  

Both the EJ Fund and DROF are 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.   

It is essential that we collaborate with community-led organizations to develop solutions to climate change. By funding important community-driven grant programs like the Environmental Justice Fund and Duwamish River Opportunity Fund, we move closer to a future in which Seattle is healthy, accessible, and sustainable for all residents. Through these investments, Seattle continues to be a leader in the fight to combat climate change and advance environmental justice.” 

-Mayor Bruce Harrell

The EJ Fund was developed in 2017 as part of the City’s Equity & Environment Agenda to invest in community-led projects aimed at achieving environmental justice. Since its launch in 2018, the EJ Fund has awarded over $2.6 Million to 43 community-based organizations over five grant cycles. These organizations are led by or are in partnership with communities of color impacted by environmental injustice. 

“Migrant and refugee communities are disproportionally impacted by climate change, yet often are not aware of its impacts on their daily lives. The Environmental Justice Fund plays a pivotal role in the development of a hands-on curriculum that educates Latinx-youth on climate change impacts and empowers youth to become leaders in their communities.” 

-Dr. Ileana Maria Ponce-Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Community Health Worker Coalition for Migrants and Refugees (CHWCMR)

The DROF is a grant program and component of a broad City effort to improve the quality of life and restore the health of Duwamish River communities in alignment with local priorities outlined in the  Duwamish Valley Action Plan (DVAP). The DVAP is a community vision for the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods. Since 2014, the DROF has granted over $1.8 Million to community projects focused on quality-of-life enhancements in South Park and Georgetown such as arts, storytelling, climate education, and climate change preparedness. 

“The Duwamish River Opportunity Fund has been an essential part of empowering stewardship among the youth of the Duwamish Valley. This funding directly supports continued work to encourage youth environmental stewardship by offering training in stormwater pollution monitoring, decision-making skills, and advocacy to ensure the health of the Lower Duwamish Watershed.” 

-Edwin Hernandez, Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association (DVSA)

During the 2023 EJ Fund application cycle, OSE received 40 proposals totaling nearly $3.06 Million. 17 projects, or 42% of proposals, will receive funding. During the 2023 DROF application cycle, OSE received 20 eligible proposals totaling over $768k. Eight projects, or 40% of proposals, will receive full funding.  

“We are thrilled to announce that through the Environmental Justice Fund and Duwamish River Opportunity Fund, we are working to fund more projects than ever before dedicated to growing leaders and increasing community capacity and collaboration. The EJ Fund and DROF are critical investments that benefit communities who face the largest inequities of the climate crisis. Many of our grantees are community-based organizations and groups seeking to launch their environmental justice efforts in response to the climate crisis. These investments allow smaller community-based organizations to leverage City dollars to scale and expand their work using additional funding sources generated from the state Climate Commitment Act, federal Infrastructure Reduction Act, and from philanthropic partners.  

-Lylianna Allala, OSE Climate Justice Director

Five organizations (Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association, Raices Verdes, Restaurant 2 Garden, Serve Ethiopians Washington, and Villa Comunitaria) are past recipients of the EJ Fund. Funding these proposals deepens the relationship and investment in their work and within their communities. 

The full list of EJ Fund and DROF grantees are listed below.   

EJ Fund Grantees: Mid-sized funding level ($10,000-40,000) 

Braided Seeds – $38,380 

Braided Seeds is a Black-led and Black community-centering environmental education and recreation non-profit whose mission is “to provide opportunities for rest, restoration and repair through connection with the land.” Funding will specifically support a strategic visioning retreat for staff and board members, professional development opportunities for staff, development of a curriculum that integrates outdoors experiential learning and the history of Black environmentalists, and community outreach to inform about the organization’s programming. 

Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) – $40,000 

CISC helps immigrants achieve success in King County by providing several information, advocacy, and support services. Funding will support the training of a group of bilingual youth to facilitate community conversations on topics related to environmental justice and climate change. This training supports CISC’s efforts to promote and build community resilience about climate change, uplift community voices, and cultivate growth opportunities for the next generation to advocate for environmental justice. 

Community Health Worker Coalition for Migrants and Refugees – $40,000 

The CHW Coalition serves the needs of refugees, people seeking asylum, and farmworkers. Funding will help develop Latinx-youth’s leadership for environmental justice among migrants and refugees in Seattle through the development and execution of a hands-on curriculum focused on understanding climate change and it’s impacts on daily life.  

Seattle’s LGBTQ+ Center – $34,100 

Seattle’s LGBTQ+ Center serves as the definitive hub for LGBTQ individuals seeking resources, wellness, and community. This project supports teaching artists to lead Queer & Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People (Youth) of Color (QTBIPOC) in art poster design to depict a positive, sustainable vision of Seattle’s future while amplifying the climate and environmental inequities faced by QTBIPOC youth. The end goal is to cultivate self-determination in the youth and empower them to engage in environmental justice or resilience efforts in their communities. 

Serve Ethiopians WA (SEW) – $40,000 

SEW is a non-profit dedicated to serving Ethiopian and other East African refugee and immigrant communities following the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding will support the “Community Outreach and Education Program for Environmental Justice” project, which seeks to bridge the gap between environmental awareness and the cultural context of East African immigrant communities in South Seattle neighborhoods. Culturally relevant workshops and activities will be offered to increase community members’ knowledge, skills and resources to become active participants in environmental conservation and sustainability efforts. 

Transportation Choices Coalition – $27,521 

The Transportation Choices Coalition helps bring people together to advocate for safe, sustainable, and equitable transportation across Washington. Funding will help host youth engagement workshops focused on transportation policy and its connections to both climate and mobility justice, leadership development, and skill-building in partnership with Youth for Equitable Streets (YES). 

Villa Comunitaria – $30,000 

Villa Comunitaria serves Latine communities in South Park and South King County. Funding will help develop a monthly series of Environmental Justice & Action workshops and activities primarily for immigrant Latine families that live in South Park, Georgetown, Highland Park and Delridge. Workshop topics include climate change and its impacts on people’s health and the Duwamish Valley, air quality and health impacts, as well as the health of the Duwamish River. 

EJ Fund Grantees: Large-size funding level ($40,001-90,000) 

Aspire Global Ambition Society – $60,000 

Funding will help develop a job training program for BIPOC individuals ages 16-24 focused on providing skills within electrical construction, renewable energy integration, and sustainable construction practices. The organization will partner with South Seattle College to identify possible training opportunities for future program participants.  

Beacon Food Forest – $75,000 

The Beacon Food Forest is a grassroots project that turned a seven-acre plot into a thriving ecosystem. Funding will help implement a remediation strategy to address soil pollution at the Beacon Food Forest and conduct a community visioning process to inform the expansion of the BIPOC Community Garden that will serves as a space for community gatherings, education, and healing. 

Casa Latina – $50,958 

Casa Latina is dedicated to advancing the power and well-being of Latino immigrants through employment, education, and community organizing. Funding will help lead “Green Cleaning” workshops for members who are domestic workers to support them in using and disposing of green cleaning products appropriately. In addition, workshops will help workers better understand both local and environmental issues caused by toxic household chemicals. 

Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association (DVSA) – $70,000 

DVSA empowers communities in issues related to quality of life, social justice, health, and education. Funding will focus on organic waste reduction and recycling. DVSA seeks to convert 25 tons of local food waste annually into 28,000 gallons of “probiotic plant food” through anaerobic digestion. This funding will primarily support staff time and stipends for four youth who will play a leadership role in this project that aims to identify the most effective uses of probiotic plant food while promoting curriculum learning on circular economy and resource recovery. 

Golden Brick Events in partnership with Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) – $44,042 

Golden Brick Events is an outdoor-focused, BIPOC-centered event production company. Funding would help support “Public Lands UnEarthed,” an oral history project to document and share the experiences, customs, and practices of BIPOC communities on public lands in Seattle. In partnership with Young Women Empowered (Y-WE), the project will provide paid skill-building training for youth to collect stories and learn about outdoor access and intersections with environmental justice. 

Raíces Verdes – $90,000 

Raíces Verdes uses multimedia storytelling to help marginalized people reconnect with the environment through unique ancestral frameworks. Funding will help co-develop a three-part Spanish-language program in partnership with Casa Latina for the immigrant women of Mujeres Sin Fronteras (Women Without Limits) focused on composting and the connection of waste to environmental conditions that impact community health. Participants will learn about composting, identify uses for the compost, become trainers for other individuals, and partake in a storytelling project that highlights their experiences in the program.  

Restaurant 2 Garden – $90,000  

Restaurant 2 Garden is dedicated to reducing restaurant food waste in the Chinatown International District (CID). Building on the success of their community-based composting pilot project, this project would expand efforts to serve the CID and Little Saigon at the neighborhood scale by increasing compost production, restaurant outreach, and educational services related to composting. This is part of the group’s vision to deepen relationships with each other, the earth, and create a green circular economy within frontline communities.   

The Common Acre – $90,000 

The Common Acre aims to restore relationships between people and land through ecology, agriculture, and art. Funding will help run workshops centering cultural preservation and connection for Unangan people will take place at the Green Line, a 2-acre pollinator conservation project along the Creston-Duwamish transmission corridor of Seattle City Light, as part of their monthly work parties. Ongoing maintenance activities will take place at the Green Line to continue enhancing pollinators’ habitat, human health through access to green space, and water quality. 

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) – $90,000 

The ULMS serves to empower communities through advocacy, education, housing, and more. Funding will partially support staff time for the Community Outreach Organizer, who will coordinate year-round programming, including Black Earth Day and Farm Day events in addition to educational cohorts that will equip the community with knowledge and resources around advocating for environmental justice (EJ) and racial equity. 

Windz of Change Alliance – $90,000 

This project seeks to strengthen Indigenous Peoples’ presence through stewardship of urban forests. Activities will focus on fostering relationships in West Seattle to support conservation of old growth Elder trees via educational workshops with a goal to create tribal ecological teaching tools on climate change and to develop solutions for issues of urban environmental injustice and inequality.  Sample workshops include, “Teachings of Our Tree Elders” to be hosted at Camp Long, Coast Salish carver workshops and art installations, and identifying old growth trees in West Seattle and Longfellow Creek. 

DROF Grantees ($10,000-40,000) 

Concord International Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) – $37,870 
This project will fund the PTA at Concord International Elementary School for six months to facilitate community events as well as support teachers and students via field trips for students and extra curriculum opportunities. 

Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition (DVAHC)– $24,000 
DVAHC seeks to prevent the displacement of people and non-profits in the Duwamish Valley. The organization recently formed a Community Land Trust that hopes to identify pathways for affordable homeownership in the Duwamish Valley. This funding will support DVAHC in providing stipends to 10 community members who will join the Board of Directors and participate in a training series.   

Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association (DVSA) – $39,087 
DVSA empowers communities in issues related to quality of life, social justice, health, and education. Funding will expand the efforts of “Juntos Podemos Cuidar Nuestro Rio Duwamish” (Together We Care for Our Duwamish River) in partnership with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and the Port of Seattle to train youth of the Duwamish Valley as watershed managers. Youth will be trained to monitor stormwater pollution in the Lower Duwamish Watershed and educate the Duwamish Valley community on these issues, identify sites of concern and learn how to identify, advocate for, and action possible solutions. 

Georgetown Community Council – $11,800 
The Georgetown Community Council strives to improve the quality of life for all who live in Georgetown. Funding will improve organizational capacity that will support the all-volunteer team to develop content for and distribute the Georgetown Gazette. The Gazette is a monthly newsletter that serves more than 800 households and businesses in the Georgetown Neighborhood. 

Shared Spaces Foundation – $40,000 
The Shared Spaces Foundation works to create community facilities for people to gather, learn, and grow together. Funding will support programing offered through the River Access Paddle Program (RAPP) which works with Duwamish River community organizations including Duwamish River Community Coalition, Puget Soundkeeper and Maritime High School, to increase community access and awareness opportunities on the Duwamish River and Salish Sea. The program seeks to reduce barriers to river access for residents through paid guide training, free/low-cost hand-carry boat access, and hands-on citizen science opportunities on the river. 

South Park Senior Center (SPSC) – $40,000 
SPSC provides seniors access to services and the cultural community needed to lead vibrant, healthy, and independent lives. Funding will provide access to healthy meals, and additional social services, that will ensure the safety, security, health, and well-being of the elders served. SPSC will also provide free fitness classes, cultural celebrations, and will pilot a podcast to capture a historic documentation of the Seniors’ lives while offsetting stereotyping and racism. 

Villa Comunitaria – $40,000 
Villa Comunitaria serves Latine communities in South Park and South King County. Funding will expand their Financial Literacy and Business Support services by directly reaching and recruiting South Park and Duwamish Valley residents, small business owners and independent contractors to participate in a 3-part educational workshop series focused on small business. Funding will also support the organization to continue offering their popular Spanish-language Financial Literacy Workshop series for individuals and families. 

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) – $38,800 
Young Women Empowered (Y-WE) envisions a society rooted in social justice where all young women live their truth, achieve their dreams, and change our world. Funding will support Y-WE Grow’s Paid Summer Internship Program, which focuses on environmental justice and healthy food systems in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities, serving diverse young women (those who identify as women, girls, trans, non-binary, or gender expansive) ages 15-20. This funding will support programming at Marra Farm, where interns connect with the Earth in a reciprocal relationship, gain gardening and professional skills, build relationships with BIPOC farmers/land stewards, and grow culturally relevant produce to share at the local El Mercadito Farmers Market. Alongside seasoned BIPOC mentors, Y-WE interns learn how to disrupt racism and injustice in the food system through investing in food sovereignty locally and gaining skills for interdependence.