City of Seattle’s Environmental Justice Fund Awards $750,000 in Grants for 14 Projects

City of Seattle’s Environmental Justice Fund Awards $750,000 in Grants for 14 Projects Led by and Benefiting Those Most Impacted by Climate Change

2021 Grants Are Largest-Ever Amount Awarded and Continue Trend of Growth Each Year

SEATTLE, January 13, 2022 -- 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 14 community-led projects designed to benefit those most impacted by environmental and climate issues, including communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and Indigenous people.

“In Seattle, we are confronting the intersecting crises of climate change, COVID-19, and systemic racism by leading alongside the community and working directly with the community,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “The Environmental Justice Fund is a critical tool to directly support community-based organizations led by communities of color that are bringing innovative, aggressive, and bold local solutions to achieving environmental and racial equity.”

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 three grant cycles of over $1.1 Million to 26 community-based organizations, whose projects are led by or are in deep partnership with communities of color impacted by environmental injustices.

“The Environmental Justice Fund plays a critical role in supporting community-driven projects especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Edwin Hernandez of Duwamish Valley Sustainability Association, a newly awarded Environmental Justice Fund grantee. “This funding will allow us to engage youth in exploring ways to accelerate a transition to renewable energy sources in the Duwamish Valley.”

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

“These 14 grantees represent the breadth of creative efforts that advance climate and environmental justice and are designed and led by frontline communities harmed first and worst by climate change,” said Lisa Chen, Equity & Environment Manager, OSE. “The EJ Fund advances the goals and strategies of the Equity & Environment Agenda by directly investing in community-led efforts that advance environmental equity in Seattle.”

Select EJ Fund grantees and select members of the Environmental Justice Committee served on the seven-member review committee to ensure continuity in a community-led process, a cornerstone of the Fund since inception.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many seniors feeling isolated, struggling to access critical services and culturally appropriate foods as well as reduced opportunities to connect with fellow seniors and community members,” said Senayet Negusse, 2021 grant review participant and who’s organization, East African Senior Meal Program, was awarded a grant in 2020. “Funding from grant programs like the Environmental Justice Fund helped our organization weather the most severe impacts of the pandemic, and I’ve been thrilled to help continue the legacy of the EJ Fund by serving as a grant reviewer this year. I hope the City will continue to expand and manage this program for years to come.”

Three of these organizations (Doorways Project, Y-WE, and Delridge Neighborhood Development Association) are past recipients of the EJ Fund. Funding these proposals deepens the relationship and investment in their work and within their communities.

“We were thrilled to be part of the 2019 EJ Fund cohort and support community workshops and habitat restorations with neighborhood youth at the Delridge Wetland Park,” said David Bestock of the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association. “With this year’s funding, we can expand our work to empower and equip local youth with a deep understanding of environmental justice and connection within the neighborhood.“

The increase in this year’s EJ Fund is a result of 2021 recommendations from the Equitable Communities Initiative (ECI) Task Force, adopted by City Council. This allocation increased the Environmental Justice Fund by $550,000, bring the total award amount available to $750,000.

The organizations receiving funding and their projects are:

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

DNDA’s project aims to provide paid opportunities for high school-aged, primarily youth of color from South Delridge to connect and build a relationship with their natural environment. They plan to lead youth in developing a deeper understanding of environmental justice and exposure to community and federally driven efforts within the neighborhood. They plan to empower youth to develop a project of their own choosing that relates to the environmental justice issues discussed in the program and work with youth to develop digital media skills. This program will focus on the historical ecology of our local landscape, traditional Indigenous approach to ecosystems, specifically looking at Roxhill Bog located in South Delridge.

  • The Doorway Project - $64,450

The Doorway Project will expand their Bloom Urban Gardening Internship, a place-based educational internship aimed at developing critical consciousness around the relationship to land and self. This internship serves youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in the University District. Funding will support the growth of the program to host two internship cohorts per year.

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

Funding will support the Y-WE’s Nature Connections (NC) program, with a focus on environmental justice and healthy food systems in marginalized communities of color. In this time, Y-WE Nature Connections will directly benefit young women in Seattle, primarily from communities of color and of immigrant and low-income backgrounds. Young women will engage in food systems learning and food production, gaining facilitation skills and leading community environmental health and food justice activities. In Y-WE Grow program activities at Marra Farm in the South Park neighborhood, participants will connect with the Earth in reciprocal relationship and gain practical gardening skills while increasing environmental justice knowledge, confidence, and commitment.

  • Basilica Bio - $61,050

Gardening Under the Microscope will expand current efforts at the Garfield Community Center Garden. In addition to maintaining the garden and producing food for the community surrounding them, Basilica Bio will continue to use the spaces as an avenue for their interactive mobile classroom. Participants leave each event with knowledge of important farming and gardening techniques and greater context for why developing local food systems is so important.

  • Beacon Hill Council - $75,000

This work advances ongoing efforts to mitigate air and noise pollution that impacts the Beacon Hill community, comprised of 32,000 residents of which 70% identify as BIPOC and 44% identify as immigrants and refugees. Specifically, funding will provide organizational capacity to educate, activate, and mobilize the Beacon Hill community members to be able to claim their voice and stories to testify in writing or in person to the proposed SeaTac Airport expansion of capacity to accommodate the increase from 47-66 M passengers, the doubling of international flights and the tripling of air cargo.

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

The organization seeks to accelerate the transition to renewables in the Duwamish Valley, starting in South Park, by facilitating a youth-led process to design, engage, and implement a community-wide project to establish a decentralized biofuel and solar energy system. The project deliverable will be a roadmap towards a zero-waste energy system for South Park, which is scalable to the Duwamish. While building the roadmap, they will create a medium and long-term strategy plan for DVSA. This project also includes a skill building component for youth to position them to join the green workforce.

  • International Capoeira Angola Foundation - $30,000

This grant would launch the Nourishian Training pilot program to reconnect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color with the land and cultural traditions, building leadership within community to advocate for their needs, and leveraging the basic human need for nourishment and food as a tool for resistance and healing. The International Capoeira Angola Foundation views shifting power dynamics in health, education, and agricultural systems as a key aspect of advancing environmental justice. The goal of the pilot is to support twelve Nourishians in developing knowledge about how food choices are connected to health, community, and the health of the land.

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

KCSKC will partner with Department of Neighborhoods to bring Khmer youth to the High Point P-Patch to learn how to grow food from the Khmer elders who currently steward the Market Garden plots of the P-Patch. This project will support intergenerational activities outdoors while teaching youth about localized food systems.

  • Muslimahs Against Abuse Center - $30,000

This organization seeks to launch a weekly series to educate and build awareness about food insecurity and poverty in with the East African community. They will facilitate workshops, cooking classes that provide healthy food alternatives, and create a guide to local food resources accessible to community. The organization will also establish a local food pantry that will offer culturally-relevant halal food as well as water and air filters for those who need it.

  • Raíces Verdes - $30,000

Raíces Verdes is a platform by and for BIPOC artists and storytellers dedicated to highlighting the stories of BIPOC people in connection with the environment in a multidisciplinary and living archive. Their mission is for Black, Indigenous, and other racialized people to reconnect to their ancestral “green roots.” This funding will create an Environmental Justice art series, a photo essay of the Seattle-area P’urhépecha diaspora, and video storytelling on food justice and Black liberation. Funding will also support a paid social media fellow and a small summit for BIPOC environmental justice storytelling.

  • Serve Ethiopians Washington - $30,000

Through this project, Serve Ethiopians Washington will conduct community outreach activities to raise awareness on environmental justice issues affecting the East African community. The organization will host educational events on different topics, including indoor and outdoor air quality, to build awareness of the health impacts as well as identify community priority areas regarding environmental justice.

  • The Backpack Academy - $43,300

The Backpack Academy strives to ensure Rainier Valley BIPOC youth have access to up-to-date information about job readiness and workforce marketplace opportunities. To this end, they will launch a 6-month workshop series for youth ages 16-24 to learn about transportation mobility, carbon footprint reduction, and clean energy alternatives. Through the hands-on component to convert manual bikes to electric bikes, youth will learn engineering and green energy concepts and develop new skills.

  • Sawhorse Revolution - $35,362

Sawhorse Revolution will develop and pilot a “Y/our Green Impact Handbook” to teach high-school-aged youth furthest from educational justice about fundamentals of green building and design, introduce them to a variety of green jobs, and interrogate the intersections of environmental, social, and racial justice built into our landscape. Working with the Northwest Eco-Builders Guild, A&R Solar, and, crucially, a board of Black and Brown designers, builders, urban planners, and educators who are living this work, they will undertake the necessary research and program revisions needed to incorporate green design and construction practices into our full suite of programs. The curriculum will be piloted in a Sawhorse design/build program in mid-2022 and published/widely implemented by end of 2022.

  • Wa Na Wari - $75,000

Funding will support Wa Na Wari to focus on a comprehensive garden redesign that implements both a learning lab space and a spring to fall co-design workshop where local BIPOC community members have access to green space and community building opportunities amid the ongoing COVID pandemic. They will design young adult and intergenerational learning labs for soil remediation that are both culturally attuned and deeply scientific at the same time to seed deeper cross-cultural understandings.