Seattle Foundation Blog

Neighbor to Neighbor 2017 Convening

Gathering focuses on working together to build a multi-racial movement

December 07, 2017

By Aileen Balahadia, N2N Consultant

The Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) Advisory Committee and Seattle Foundation welcomed over 110 community grantees, partners and funders together for an evening discussion, “Building our Multiracial Movement Together,” on November 28. Each year, N2N brings together the community to listen and learn from our grantees, as well as to build relationships among the broader partner and funder community. Representatives from 40 former/current grantee organizations, 15 partner/funder organizations and several volunteers participated.

Featuring discussions that touched deeply upon the pressing issues of race, movement building and institutional and structural racism, N2N provided a safe space for folks to share honestly and bravely. A multicultural meal of Ethiopian, Eritrean, Mediterranean, Southeast Asian and halal food was servedN2N grantees and community members gather at the 2017 convening. by local businesses Café Kezira, Olympic Express, Bananas Grill and Hood Famous Bakeshop, and included a traditional Ethiopian/Eritrean coffee service.

The evening started with meet ups of community grantees from each of the three N2N neighborhoods, Kent, South Seattle and White Center, to connect and determine their own community agenda and priorities. Many groups decided they’d like to meet regularly in their neighborhood to coordinate efforts.

The entire group then gathered over dinner to hear a panel discuss “Why Race Matters in Our Work.” Thoughtfully moderated by Erin Okuno from the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, three panelists noted the impact of systemic racism and how it intersects in their work. Yasmin Habib, Executive Director of World Mind Creation Academy, shared why it’s important to support immigrant and refugee youth through mentorships, connections and valuing their voices. Reverend Jimmie James, Executive Director of Being Empowered through Supported Transitions (BEST), shared the importance of better reintegrating and welcoming formerly incarcerated people back into neighborhoods as valued community members. Tony Mestres, President and CEO of Seattle Foundation, spoke of the importance of influencing philanthropists to invest in racial equity and long-term solutions to provide opportunity for all communities.

Conversations then continued at 15 tables, where volunteer facilitators created a welcoming environment for people from diverse perspectives to share thoughts on how they are building multiracial movements and what they need to support those efforts N2N looks forward to supporting continued efforts to further these conversations and opportunities for multi-racial dialogue. A final report about the evening will be available in early 2018 for review and will guide our work into the future.

Many thanks to the N2N Advisory Committee, our hosts at the New Holly Gathering Hall and countless volunteers who supported the convening. 

N2N is the collaborative grassroots grantmaking program of the Seattle Foundation. We work to increase the engagement, power and influence of those most impacted by racial and economic disparity. Learn more about Seattle Foundation's Neighbor to Neighbor program or contact N2N Program Consultant Aileen Balahadia at




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