Seattle Foundation Blog

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Reflections

Martin Luther King Jr. Day allows us all, as individuals and organizations, to reflect on how we live out the values that our nation honors today.

January 16, 2017

By Tony Mestres, President & CEO

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” – Martin Luther King  Jr.

Today and every day, these powerful words inspire Seattle Foundation in our mission to create a stronger, more vibrant community for all.  They motivate our team to innovate and invest in creating greater equity and opportunity in our region.  They drive partnerships with our principled philanthropists and impactful nonprofit leaders who share Dr. King’s vision to make justice a reality for all of our residents, especially the most marginalized. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day allows us all, as individuals and organizations, to reflect on how we live out the values that our nation honors today.  For Seattle Foundation, we feel humble authenticity to that reflection for here in our region, where you live, how much you make, and the color of your skin are major predictors of your life experience and your chances of living well and thriving. And while average measures of quality of life, social, and health factors are among the highest in the country, Greater Seattle experiences some of the greatest inequities among all large U.S. metropolitan areas. The values of equity and opportunity are central principles guiding Seattle Foundation’s mission. We founded the Center for Community Partnerships to focus on increasing racial and economic equity. Amongst the Center’s efforts are: 

  • Communities of Opportunity, a partnership with King County, aims to improve health, social, racial, and economic outcomes by investing in community, policy and systems change. 

  • Neighbor To Neighbor supports grassroots efforts that increase engagement, power and influence of community members affected by poverty and racial disparities. 

  • The Vibrant Democracy Initiative works to strengthen the voice and participation of underrepresented communities to allow for more equitable systems change.

Now, more than ever, we recommit ourselves to this critical work.  These efforts are strongly aligned with the values we celebrate today in Dr. King’s honor, but we also acknowledge their reach is small in scope relative to the growing opportunity gap that exists in every facet of American life.  Most profound is the achievement gap in education, which cuts short the pathway to the American Dream for millions of children. In Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” survey of each state’s public-education system, Washington ranked second to last when it came to narrowing the gap in performance between low-income students and their wealthier classmates. We also know that of the top 200 schools districts nationally, Seattle has the fifth-biggest gap in achievement between black and white students. Reflecting on Dr. King’s legacy and principles today is a reminder of why working to address such inequities in our community is so vital and urgent. 

There is so much more we can do together, as a community, to end human suffering and create the hope and opportunity rooted in Dr. King’s dream.  Today, Seattle Foundation honors the philanthropists and community partners investing their time, intellect and wealth in making justice a reality for all.  We call on all to reflect on and recommit ourselves to the inarguable principles that Dr. King gave his life for.

“The time is always right to do what’s right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr.



For Philanthropists


philanthropistseducationsocial equalityhealthy community frameworkBasic Needscollective giving

Related Post

no guns

Organizations Working to Decrease Gun Violence

June 01, 2022

Following the horrific tragedies in Uvalde and Buffalo, we turn to local and national organizations working to reduce gun violence.

moving forward 300

Highlighting the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) pool for Seattle Foundation philanthropists

May 23, 2022

The Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Pool, managed by Aperio, aligns with the three pillars of Seattle Foundation’s Blueprint for Impact: A Just Democracy, Equitable Economy, Resilient Environment.

Blue & Green ombre background with white text that reads: Donna Moodie Joins Seattle Foundation's Board of Trustees

Seattle Foundation welcomes Donna Moodie to its Board of Trustees

March 15, 2022

Moodie brings a wealth of community building, neighborhood activism and small business acumen.