Seattle Foundation Blog

N2N Annual Grantee Convening

Modeling multi-racial coalition building at yearly Neighbor to Neighbor event


June 13, 2018

By Aileen Balahadia, Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) Program Consultant

Convening panelists

Panelist Sandy Restrepo talks about her work with Colectiva Legal del Pueblo

Grantees discuss at table talks

“Table talks” continue the conversation on collaboration and building power

On May 30, N2N welcomed over 100 grassroots grantees and partners for our annual grantee convening at Bethaday Community Learning Space in White Center.

The Neighbor to Neighbor program supports grassroots efforts that increase engagement, power and influence of community members affected by poverty and racial disparities. With a theme of addressing systemic racism and inequity, the convening is an opportunity to lift up the N2N grantees’ innovative work. It provides a safe forum for grantees and partners to listen, learn, make connections and draw inspiration from one another.

As requested by the grantees, the event began with open time for groups to gather by their neighborhoods of Kent, South Seattle and White Center. The nonprofits worked together and with trusted community facilitators to find common strategies and opportunities to build multi-racial coalitions.

When the main event kicked off, Pat Thompson of the YES Foundation of White Center moderated a panel discussion on building power and multiracial coalitions and how focusing on systemic racism and root causes can develop long-term solutions. Sandy Restrepo from Colectiva Legal del Pueblo shared how they recently helped build the Washington Immigration Solidarity Network, an unprecedented collaboration between 100 immigration-focused organizations statewide. Susan Balbas of Na’ah Illahee Fund said her group joined Front and Centered’s climate justice coalition after learning how important climate and environment is to their community. And, Pulemau Savusa from Our Future Matters said the group is building power through a cross-racial youth movement to improve educational outcomes for youth of color.

After the panel, participants broke into small groups for “table talks” to continue the conversation on collaboration and building power. Experienced community facilitators led participants through challenging conversations about their experiences with coalitions, internalized oppression and continuing and pervasive anti-black prejudice. They also discussed the role of youth as leaders, the strength (and limitations) of the nonprofit structure and many other topics.

By infusing the convening with networking time, N2N recognizes the value and patience required to build relationships so that these meaningful conversations can take place. Our hope is to create a sense of belonging where communities feel strong ownership and accountability of N2N’s collective work. We plan to continue these conversations throughout the year and look forward to another full convening in 2019.

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