Seattle Foundation Blog

Communities of Opportunity Systems & Policy Change Grantees

Seattle Foundation and King County invest $2.5 million in grants to community nonprofits to increase health, social, racial and economic equity

February 01, 2018

Communities of Opportunity is investing more than $2.5 million in 27 new grants to 50 organizations in the community to advocate for systems changes that will improve health, social, racial and economic outcomes in the region. Communities of Opportunity (COO) was catalyzed by a collaboration between King County and Seattle Foundation and is governed by a collaborative partnership of leaders from community organizations, government and philanthropy.

COO received 87 proposals for these grants from a broad array of organizations for community-led efforts to transform systems and policies that create stronger community connections, economic opportunity, better health, and housing for low-income communities and communities of color in King County. The one-time grants, totaling $2,576,460, will support these efforts as well as work to increase the capacity of organizations to engage in systems change work.

The COO governing group made the funding decisions, guided by recommendations from a grant review committee. The grant money comes from the 10 percent of levy funds that are dedicated to COO under the Best Starts for Kids initiative, passed by King County voters in 2014, as well as contributions from philanthropic partners.

Some of the grant recipients include:

Chief Seattle Club plans to build an organized effort and coalition to prevent and address homelessness for urban Native Americans. In King County, American Indians/Alaskan Natives are seven times more likely to be homeless and have the lowest rate of exits to permanent housing of any racial or ethnic groups. Chief Seattle Club will educate government and the broader community about specific issues on homelessness in the urban Native American community and will develop a plan to address the problem.

Casa Latina will focus on advancing a coalition initiative to establish a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in Seattle that better protects domestic workers and removes loopholes in employment laws that exclude them. It would also create more opportunities for training and workforce development.  

Got Green will use its grant to address disparities that keep people of color out of green internships and careers, and to diversity the workforce in the environmental sector, including through a fellowship program to develop young leaders.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families will work to increase community-based advocacy for families of developmentally or intellectually disabled individuals from diverse cultural or linguistic backgrounds, many of whom do not speak English. The project will focus on increasing their ability to influence decisions on their children’s education, access to recreation, affordable housing and reliable transportation.

The full list of COO systems and policy change grantees follows. 

Communities of Opportunity Systems & Policy Change Grantees

Project Level Grant Recipients:

All In For Washington | $215,000

All in For Washington, in partnership with Coalition of Immigrants and Refugees and Communities of Color (CIRCC), will engage communities of color through in-language education to develop comprehensive tax policy options that bring multiple perspectives to the table. 

Casa Latina | $112,958

Casa Latina aims to develop, advocate for and ensure effective implementation of a Bill of Rights that better protects domestic workers and removes loopholes in employment laws that often exclude domestic workers. 

Chief Seattle Club | $114,507

Chief Seattle Club will strengthen and coordinate a coalition of organizations to address urban Native homelessness. The coalition will ensure the voices and perspectives of American Indian/Alaskan Native communities are central to homelessness prevention efforts and policies. 

Church Council of Greater Seattle | $90,000

The Church Council will be working to further mobilize grassroots, faith-based leaders to influence local affordable housing policy in South King County. Multi-faith Leadership Circles will come together to promote local priorities.

EmPower | $40,000

EmPower will sustain a coalition in South King County to protect immigrant rights and offer legal support when needed, including exploring the role of Department of Justice (DOJ) Accredited Representatives. 

Federal Way Youth Action Team | $72,400

Federal Way Youth Action Team will expand its work to engage youth of color in policy making. Building youth leadership and youth voice includes engaging city leaders to discuss vital issues with young people, including violence prevention approaches. 

FEEST | $115,000

FEEST is dedicated to developing youth leadership for health and food justice. Youth leaders will extend their impact in South King County schools by working on policies to increase access and affordability of healthy and culturally-relevant foods. 

Got Green | $65,000

Got Green will work to address disparities that often keep people of color out of "green economy" internships and careers. This includes investing in fellowship programs to develop young leaders in the environmental justice movement and to advocate for measures to diversify the workforce in the environmental sector. 

Open Doors for Multicultural Families | $115,000

Open Doors for Multicultural Families will increase opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families--many from diverse cultural or linguistic backgrounds--to engage in policy and advocacy. Identified focus areas include education, access to recreational opportunities, stable and affordable housing and reliable para-transit.

Puget Sound Sage | $215,000

Puget Sound Sage and Transportation Choices Coalition aim to ensure communities of color, immigrants and refugees share in and prosper from the benefits of transit, specifically Sound Transit 3. This includes representation of marginalized communities in decisions such as station location and accessibility, equitable development and affordable housing along transit lines.

Seattle Indian Health Board | $115,000

Seattle Indian Health Board aims to bring about concrete improvements in health care access and quality for Native people. SIHB will provide necessary data, policy analysis and input on proposed state legislation to reduce health disparities and ensure implementation of existing treaties.

Somali Health Board | $215,000

Nine racial/ethnic health boards will come together to establish the Community Health Board Coalition (CHBC) to strengthen social cohesion across groups by creating a joint policy agenda and ultimately positioning the CHBC as a powerful voice for health. 

Statewide Poverty Action Network | $115,000

Statewide Poverty Action Network will work with affected populations to document and explore alternatives to debt collection practices that can have harmful effects on people, particularly those with criminal histories or who have been frequent targets of predatory lending. 

Tenants Union of Washington State | $90,000

The Tenants Union will host community meetings to educate low-income renters about ways to address barriers to housing and work together to increase their leadership skills, including through the power of narratives.

Washington Bus Education Fund | $65,000

The Washington Bus Education Fund aims to engage young people in generating creative policy solutions and increasing voting rates. Keys issues for young people include access to post-secondary education and voting access. 

Washington Dream Coalition | $115,000

Washington Dreams Coalition will collaborate with youth, college students and educators to address key barriers to the success of undocumented youth working and studying in our region. This includes developing a task force aimed at building systemic support for students.

Yesler Community Collaborative | $165,000

This collaborative of five organizations and connected partners will advance multiple anti-displacement strategies. This includes development of policy issue briefs and pilot projects to increased affordable housing, support small businesses and increase authentic community engagement and leadership.

Capacity Level Grant Recipients:


API Chaya | $184,720

A collaborative project to increase the influence of two-spirit, gender diverse, queer and transgender people of color to lead grassroots movements and demands for change by becoming meaningfully involved in the political process. Participants will work to address issues that are specific to these communities on a local and regional level and in the neighborhoods where they live and work.

Civil Survival | $40,000

Civil Survival provides civic education and mobilizes formerly incarcerated individuals and their network of family and friends to advocate for greater participation and advocacy that results in better quality of life and outcomes, including in housing and employment. 

Communities in Action | $37,000

This project will strengthen cross-sector collaborations between neighborhood organizations and the school district to promote healthy youth development in Southeast and Central Seattle and more effectively address mental health and violence issues in the community that hamper the future of students. 

Community Justice Project | $40,000

This effort aims to transform the criminal legal system and promote policies that support the people and communities of color most impacted by violence, including increased rehabilitation rather than incarceration. It seeks to amplify the voices of crime survivors whose experiences have reinforced that punitive measures often worsen the conditions that lead to crime in the first place.

Friends of Little Saigon | $40,000

This organization will engage small family businesses to mitigate changes in the neighborhood and to strengthen Little Saigon in Seattle's International District as a cultural hub for the larger Vietnamese population.

Ingersoll Gender Center | $40,000

This project will create a gender affirming health care policy agenda after engaging stakeholders in discussions and surveys on challenges that transgender community members have in accessing gender affirming care and that medical providers have in connecting them to it. 

Para Los Ninos de Highline | $40,000

This group will work to develop the skills of low income Latino residents in South King County to become emerging leaders who are advocating for the needs of the community. They will conduct a survey of existing leaders and host a convening on community priorities to help develop a change campaign in 2019.

Somali Family Safety Task Force | $39,875

This project would increase advocacy capacity among Somali parents through practical skill building. The Task Force will advocate for policy changes to make public schools more accessible to and effective for Somali families and to use those newly developed skills to address other community needs. 

South King County Discipline Coalition | $40,000

This coalition harnesses the voice of parents and young people to build community power and advance policy goals and strategies that end the use of discipline practices that disproportionately affect students of color in public schools.

Washington Indian Civil Rights Commission | $40,000

The WICRC will build relationships with public officials and develop leadership within the Native community through a series of advocacy and listening events with the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families. 



Nonprofit Partners


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