Seattle Foundation Blog

Youth Grantmaking Board Awards $20,000 to Local Nonprofits

Washington Building Leaders of Change and Na'ah Illahee Fund recognized for their work with youth

June 19, 2017

Seattle Foundation’s Youth Grantmaking Board (YGB) provides students with an incredible opportunity to make grants up to $20,000 to the organizations of their choice.


This year, the YGB selected two organizations to receive grants, Washington Building Leaders of Change (WA-BLOC), which supports high school students in developing leadership and mobilization skills, and the Na’ah Illahee Fund, which supports the activism and leadership of Native American women and girls.  

The YGB is an opportunity for youth in our region to create positive changes in their community through philanthropy, as well as make decisions about nonprofits and community needs based on their values.

The student members actively advocate for others in under-served communities through discussions and site visits. Their youth is viewed as an asset instead of the traditional ageist view that often fails to incorporate young people in decision-making circles.

Each student shares thoughts and values as the board discusses and deliberates about what nonprofit(s) it wants to support. With YGB members changing each year, the application guidelines for nonprofits evolves each year based on each board’s values and interests in equity in the community.

WA-BLOC was awarded $5,000 to help buy Orca public transportation cards for students attending the WA-BLOC’s 2017 Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools this summer.

“[WA-BLOC’s] program did an amazing job of showing the board how crucial this summer program is to the students at Rainer Beach High School by letting the students share their own personal stories about how they have benefited from the program,” said Zebiba Denning, YGB member.

She said the youth are so dedicated to arriving at school on time that they have participated in demonstrations to press for increased availability of Orca cards for all students. “I truly believe that investing in Orca cards is also investing in the students’ ability to succeed in and out of school,” Denning said.

Another board member, Grace Chinen, spoke how some students can’t afford a daily fee for transportation. This results in students worrying about how to get to school, making it harder to succeed.

“The daily decision of how to get where they need to go, should not take priority over their education,” Chinen said. “By providing year-round transportation, WA-BLOC is not only eliminating a strenuous commute to education, but is opening up so many more opportunities for students to volunteer, get a job, participate in extracurricular activities and become better members of the community.”

In addition, the Na’ah Illahee Fund is receiving a $15,000 grant from the YGB to support its Native Girls Code Program, a year-round club that combines STEM and cultural education with mentorship.

Na'ah Illahee Fund

Teaching Native American women to code not only helps them succeed in computer science, it gives them resources to expand that field by creating technologies that help their own communities.

“It was clear from the beginning that though [the Na’ah Illahee Fund] was only recently founded in 2015, the work it is doing is fierce, powerful and impactful because of the incredible people within the organization,” said YGB member Zoya Gheisar. “We are excited to support this organization that is encouraging radical and powerful leadership in Native Youth.”

Congratulations to WA-BLOC and the Na’ah Illahee Fund for receiving the 2017 YGB grant!

To learn more about the YGB and how to apply for a grant, please contact



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