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The City of Seattle’s Environmental Justice Fund awards $750,000 in grants for 14 projects led by and benefiting those most affected by climate change
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The City of Seattle’s Environmental Justice Fund awards $750,000 in grants for 14 projects led by and benefiting those most affected by climate change

2021 Grants Have the Largest Amount Ever Awarded and Continue to Trend of Growth Every Year 

The Office of Sustainability & Environment of Seattle (OSE), is pleased to announce that $750,000 will go to 14 community-led initiatives through the Environmental Justice Fund (EJ Fund). These are intended to be of benefit to communities of color as well as refugees, immigrants, refugees, and Indigenous peoples who are most affected.

Mayor Bruce Harrell said that Seattle is facing the interconnected crises of climate change, COVID-19 and systemic racism. He said that he was working with the community to address these issues. The Environmental Justice Fund is an important tool to support community-based organizations that are led by communities of color. It provides funding to help them implement innovative, aggressive and bold local solutions in achieving environmental and racial equality.

The Environmental Justice Fund was established in 2017 as part the Citys Equity & Environment agenda. It provides grants to community-led projects that improve environment conditions, respond to climate change impacts and move us closer to achieving environmental justice. The EJ Fund was launched in September 2008. Since then, it has granted three grants cycles totaling more than $1.1 Million to 26 community-based groups. These projects are led or in close partnership with communities of color affected by environmental injustices.

The Environmental Justice Fund plays a crucial role in supporting community driven projects, especially amid the COVID-19 epidemic, said Edwin Hernandez, Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association grantee. This funding will enable us to engage youth to explore ways to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources within the Duwamish valley. 

OSE received 44 proposals, totaling almost $2.8M. Proposals were focused on a variety of climate and environment justice topics, including food justice and workforce development, renewable energy, youth leadership, and environmental education.

These 14 grantees are representative of the breadth and depth of creative efforts to advance climate and environment justice. They are designed and led first- and second-hand by frontline communities harmed most by climate change, Lisa Chen, Equity & Environment manager, OSE. The Equity & Environment Agenda goals and strategies are being supported by the EJ Fund. It direct invests in community-led efforts that promote environmental equity in Seattle.

To ensure continuity in a community-led process that has been a cornerstone since its inception, select EJ Fund grantees served on the seven-member review panel.

Many seniors feel isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have difficulty accessing critical services and culturally appropriate food. There are also fewer opportunities to connect with seniors and other community members. Senayet Negeusse was a 2021 grant review participant whose organization, East African Senior Meal Program, was granted a grant in 2020. Our organization was able to weather the worst effects of the pandemic thanks to grants programs like the Environmental Justice Fund. This year, I was thrilled to serve as a grant reviewer for the EJ Fund. I hope that the City will continue to grow and manage this program for many years to come.

The EJ Fund has previously funded three of these organizations, namely Doorways Project, Y-WE and Delridge Neighborhood Development Association. The EJ Fund funds these proposals to deepen the partnership and investment in their work, as well as within their communities.

We were delighted to be part the 2019 EJ Fund cohort. We will support community workshops and habitat restorations at the Delridge Wetland Park with neighborhood youth, said David Bestock from the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association. We can expand our work to empower local youth and strengthen their connection with the neighborhood through this years funding.

The 2021 recommendations by the ECJ Fund are responsible for the increase in this year’s EJ Fund. Equitable Communities InitiativeCity Council adopted the (ECI) Task Force. This allocation increased Environmental Justice Fund by $550,000, bringing the total award amount up to $750,000

The following organizations and projects were funded:

  • Delridge Neighborhood Development Association (DNDA) – $56,012

The DNDAs program provides paid opportunities for South Delridge high school students, primarily of color, to connect with and build a connection with their natural environment. They will help youth develop a deeper understanding of the environment and expose them to federally funded efforts in the area. They will help youth develop a project related to the environmental justice issues. This program will examine the history and Indigenous approach to ecosystems in our local landscape.

  • The Doorway Project – $64,450

The Doorway Project will expand their Bloom Urban Gardening Internship. It is a place-based education internship that develops critical consciousness about land and self. This internship is available to young adults and youth who are homeless in the University District. Funding will be used to expand the program to host two cohorts of interns each year.

  • Y-WE (Young Women Empowered) – $75,000

Funding will support Y-WEs Nature Connections (NC), a program that focuses on environmental justice, healthy food systems, and marginalized communities. Y-WE Nature Connections in Seattle will benefit young women primarily from immigrant and low-income communities. Young women will learn about food systems and produce food. They will also gain facilitation skills and help lead community food justice and environmental health activities. Participants will develop practical gardening skills and increase their environmental justice knowledge through Y-WE GROW program activities at Marra Farm, South Park.

Gardening Under the Microscope will increase the Garfield Community Center Garden’s efforts. Basilica Bio will continue to use these spaces as a way to create interactive mobile learning experiences. Each event leaves participants with a better understanding of farming and gardening techniques, and a greater appreciation for the importance of developing local food systems.

  • Beacon Hill Council – $75,000

This funding will help continue efforts to reduce air and noise pollution that affects the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The community is comprised of 32,000 residents, of which 70% identify themselves as BIPOC while 44% identify themselves as immigrants and refugees. Funding will be used to activate, educate, and mobilize Beacon Hill residents to be able speak out and share their stories.

  • Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association (DVSA) – $75,000

The organization is aiming to accelerate the transition towards renewable energy in the Duwamish Vale, starting in South Park. They facilitate a youth-led process to design and engage the community in a project to establish a solar and biofuel decentralized system. The project deliverable will include a roadmap to a zero-waste energy solution for South Park that is scalable to the Duwamish. The roadmap will be used to create a long-term and medium-term strategy plan for DVSA. This project also includes a skill-building component for youth to help them get into the green workforce.

  • International Capoeira Angola Foundation – $30,000

This grant would help launch the Nourishian training pilot program. It will connect Black, Indigenous, Black, and People of Color to the land and cultural traditions, building community leadership to advocate for their rights, and leveraging the basic human need of nourishment and food to resist and heal. The International Capoeira Angola Foundation sees shifting power dynamics in health and education as a key element of advancing environmental justice. The pilot will support 12 Nourishians to gain knowledge about the relationship between food choices and health, community, as well as the health of their land.

  • Khmer Community of Seattle & King County (KCSKC) – $69,826

KCSKC will work with Department of Neighborhoods in order to bring Khmer youths from Cambodia to the High Point P-Patch, where they can learn how to grow food from the Khmer elders that currently manage the Market Garden plots of this P-Patch. This project will promote intergenerational activities outdoors, while teaching youth about local food systems.

  • Muslimahs Against Abuse Center – $30,000

This group aims to create a weekly series that educates and raises awareness about food insecurity and poverty with the East African community. They will host workshops and teach cooking classes that offer healthy food alternatives. The organization will also set up a local food pantry to provide culturally appropriate halal food, water, and filters for those in need.

Races Verdes is an online platform for and by BIPOC storytellers and artists. It aims to highlight the stories of BIPOC citizens in relation to the environment in a multidisciplinary, living archive. Their mission is to help Black, Indigenous, or other racialized persons to reconnect to their ancestral green roots. The funding will be used to create an Environmental Justice art series, a photo essay about the Seattle-area Purhpecha Diaspora, and video storytelling about food justice and Black liberation. The funding will also fund a paid social media fellow as well as a small summit to promote BIPOC environmental justice storytelling.

  • Serve Ethiopians Washington – $30,000

Serve Ethiopians Washington is launching community outreach activities as part of this project to raise awareness about environmental justice issues affecting East African communities. The organization will host educational seminars on a variety of topics, including indoor/outdoor air quality, to increase community awareness and identify priority areas in environmental justice.

  • The Backpack Academy – $43,300

The Backpack Academy aims to ensure Rainier Valley BIPOC youth have easy access to current information about job readiness, and opportunities in the workforce market. The Backpack Academy will host a 6-month workshop series that will teach youth between 16 and 24 about transportation mobility, carbon emissions reduction, and clean energy alternatives. Youth will be able to learn engineering concepts and green energy concepts through the hands-on component of converting manual bikes to electric bikes and will also develop new skills.

  • Sawhorse Revolution – $35,362

Sawhorse Revolution is developing and piloting a Y/our Green Impact Handbook. It will educate high-school-aged students farthest away from educational justice about the basics of green building and design, introduce them and discuss the interplay of environmental, social and racial injustices built into our landscape. They will collaborate with A&R Solar, Northwest Eco-Builders Guild and, most importantly, a board made up of Black and Brown architects, urban planners, and designers who have lived this work. The Sawhorse design/build programme will pilot the curriculum and it will be published/widely implemented by the end 2022.

Wa Na Wari will be able to use the funding to fund a comprehensive garden redesign. It will include a learning laboratory space and a spring-to fall co-design workshop, where local BIPOC community members can have access to green spaces and community building opportunities in the midst of the ongoing COVID pandemic. They will design intergenerational and young adult soil remediation labs that are culturally sensitive and deeply scientific to help seed deeper cross-cultural understandings.

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