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$30 Million Equitable Communities Initiative Recommendations Signed into Law

Task Force led the city’s largest self-determined, community-led effort to fund strategies to improve outcomes for BIPOC community

SEATTLE (August 11, 2021) – Following Seattle City Council’s unanimous vote to lift their proviso, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signed into law the recommendations of the Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force (ECITF), providing $30 million in investments to the address long-standing inequities and disparities impacting communities of color. The ECITF directed the City’s largest-ever, self-determined effort to fund strategies that will help improve outcomes for the Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities.

“Seattle has reached another milestone, furthering our commitment to address generational wrongs that continue to harm our communities of color. Coming out of the painful time after the murder of George Floyd, these community leaders went to work, harnessing the collective power of community voice to deliver strategies that will improve lives,” said Mayor Durkan. “These Task Force members represent the best of Seattle and I am grateful for each of them and for their commitment to this work and the Seattle community. These investments are a first step and we must continue on this path to ensure an equitable Seattle for all of our communities.”

“I’m so proud of the task force’s willingness to collaborate, focused always on the end goals: justice, progress, and equity. Through their work, wisdom, expertise, and lived experience they got the job done,” says Councilmember Debora Juarez, who served as ex-officio to the Task Force. “Thanks to their efforts Seattle remains on the cutting edge of delivering community investments. We now have a pragmatic plan to address the inequities present in our city. This plan, built by community, brings us one step closer to the equitable city we aspire to be.”

“I am thrilled about the work that the Small Business Pillar of the ECITF has done because it confronts the lack of access to funding that Communities of Color have faced for generations. We wanted to provide access to funding in the form of forgivable loans, grants, and low-interest loans. We wanted to use a portion of the funding to supply Technical Assistance from colleagues who resemble those whom they serve, or who are allies and will treat the applicants with dignity and respect. While Technical Assistance is commonly perceived as support for technology or assistance in boosting marketing or HR, we wanted to address getting people to the table to apply for funding,” said Task Force member Donna Moodie, owner of Marjorie restaurant and EVP of Community Development, Community Roots Housing. “With this investment, we will create jobs, wealth, and ownership while also maintaining a fabric in our communities that is woven together by the members of our city who are often overlooked.”  

“Housing prices across Seattle and King County continue to disproportionately displace Black, Indigenous and other people of color from their longstanding communities, and from homes to homeless. I am honored to have worked together with Task Force members to put forward recommendations that can begin to address both issues and also the economic factors that can cause housing instability. From our lease to purchase program that will help people think differently about the possibility of owning a home in Seattle to our innovative plan to address housing for our community members in the construction trades, we worked deliberately on disrupting problem from both ends,” said Task Force member Sharon Nyree Williams, Executive Director of the Central District Forum.

As part of her 2021 budget proposal, Mayor Durkan committed $100 million to address the deep disparities endured by BIPOC communities and caused by systemic racism and institutionalized oppression. Mayor Durkan launched the Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force – a diverse group of people of color, community leaders representing a cross-section of industries including arts, business, health care, education, food, and environmental justice, and more – to spearhead the process of developing recommendations for $30 million of the BIPOC community investment.

While supported by City departments to navigate legal and policy issues, the Task Force had full autonomy to determine focus areas and upon deliberation outlined four pillars of investment that included nine recommendations with 18 strategies to support the critical needs of the community, including:

$7.5 Million – Building Opportunity through Small Business Support  

  • Provide Equitable Small and Micro Business Capital  
  • Offer Small Business Technical Assistance on Financial Health, Digital Tools, and Construction Support  

$7.5 Million – Developing Diverse and Culturally Competent Educators and Education Opportunities  

  • Fund Culturally Supportive Re-entry Programs for Formerly Incarcerated BIPOC  
  • Support Equity in Education with Students  
  • Provide Cultural Education for BIPOC youth  

$8.8 Million – Accessing Affordable Housing, Land Acquisition and Generational Wealth  

  • Establish a Generational Wealth Education Program and Resource Portal  
  • Identify Housing Strategies for Low- and Middle-Income Apprentices and Pre-Apprentices  
  • Broaden Priority Hire and WMBE Support  
  • Create Homeownership Supports and Development Opportunities  
  • Study the Feasibility of a Lease to Own Program  
  • Provide Ownership Retention Resources for BIPOC Families to Remain in Their Homes  

$6.2 Million – Improving Positive Health Outcomes  

  • Provide Holistic Culturally Responsive & Inclusive Healthcare  
  • Improve Access to Culturally Responsive & Inclusive Healthcare  
  • Sustain a Healthy Food Fund for Community-Led Projects Focused on Food Security  
  • Increase Farm to Table Access with a BIPOC Emphasis  
  • Support an Environmental Justice Fund for Community-Led Projects  
  • Address Barriers to BIPOC Professionals Entering the Healthcare Workforce  
  • Enhance Youth Career Exploration in the Healthcare Industry

Task Force investments will have an immediate impact. This week, the Office of Sustainability and Environment announced the Environmental Justice Fund application period is open with $750,000 available for projects supporting efforts that are led by and for the people most affected by environmental and climate inequities, including Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The Task Force allocated $500,000 towards this investment.

The Task Force investments are separate from, and in addition to, the recently announced Seattle Rescue Plan pandemic relief funding which will provide $52 million in investments provided by the federal government.

More on $100 million BIPOC Investment

Throughout the remainder of 2021 and 2022 processes continue forward to release funding into the community. In July, $10.4 million was awarded to 33 organizations focused on BIPOC community safety with investments ranging from $123,000 to $545,000. This fall, $30 million will be awarded for land and property acquisition to respond to disproportionate displacement pressures impacting BIPOC communities, with a maximum of $5 million per award. In 2022, the City anticipates embarking on the city’s largest participatory budgeting process, to allocate the final $30 million of the $100 million investment.