Seattle Foundation Blog

Communities of Opportunity commits $1.275 million to King County community organizations for COVID-19 Response

King County and Seattle Foundation awards will address inequities in housing, health, and economic opportunity. Grantees will receive $1.275 million to promote change in policies and systems for communities most impacted by COVID-19 in King County.

August 18, 2020

King County and Seattle Foundation awarded 16 grants to community-based organizations and coalitions that will help improve the health, social, and economic inequities exacerbated by COVID-19. The total of $1.275 million in competitive grants through Communities of Opportunity (COO) will help support community-driven, responsive, and sustainable change focused on racial equity in both short-term response and long-term recovery from impacts of COVID-19.

Prior to the pandemic, inequity existed for low-income residents, residents of color and other communities marginalized in King County. This funding effort by COO is to ensure these communities have a voice in response and recovery and to ensure that we do not go back to how things were, but design new approaches for different, more equitable outcomes for all communities. 

 “For many, the duel pandemics of COVID-19 and Racism have been an awakening to the injustices that exist in Martin Luther King Jr. County. The silence forced upon our busy lives by COVID-19 allowed for the ongoing cries from our communities most marginalized to finally be heard and responded to in a meaningful way. This investment through the COO COVID-19 Resilience & Response Fund will allow us to create a sustainable strategy, led by youth and young adults who have been impacted by the criminal legal system, to ensure their voices will continue to be heard and that their health and well-being will continue to be a priority when the volume of our daily lives begins to rise and we return to our new normal in a post-COVID community.”

- Sean Goode, Executive Director, CHOOSE 180

Decisions that affect the health and well-being of low-income communities and communities of color are happening now, and it is critical that these are informed by the communities most impacted by the health and economic effects of COVID-19. The grants to community groups and coalitions will support community-led decision-making and outcomes that are centered in racial equity and accountability to low-income and communities of color. This includes support to the Seattle Indian Health Board to further efforts to ensure adequate funding for the Indian healthcare system; Africatown Community Land Trust’s work towards effective public and private investments that respond to COVID-19 impacts in equitable ways for the Black King County community; and, to the Gender Justice League and partners to support, activate, and advocate for Trans and non-binary people who are experiencing significant barriers to safe housing. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected the health and economic well-being of King County communities. At a time when protests against anti-Black violence are highlighting racial inequities that have persisted for far too long, we’re proud to make these investments alongside the County. Through efforts like this one, we are working collectively to ensure low-income residents and residents of color have a voice in how our community responds to COVID-19. This work is essential to reimagining what our region can look like – a region with shared prosperity, belonging and equity.”

- Tony Mestres, President & CEO of Seattle Foundation

The Resilience and Response funds were made available through a competitive process, open to eligible grantees were recent applicants to COO systems and policy change funding, including current and previous COO grantees. All awardees are organizations working with and/or within communities experiencing significant social, racial, health, and/or economic inequities, and on problems directly related to COO result areas of health, housing, economic opportunity and community connections, and COVID-19.

This first round of Resilience and Response grants will achieve multiple goals, including support for low-income immigrant and refugee renters in East King County and city policies that protect from eviction, mental health advocacy, and efforts to maintain and strengthen health care coverage and access beyond the pandemic emergency response period.

Through the Communities of Opportunity COVID-19 Resilience and Response Fund, King County and the Seattle Foundation are proud to support the work of:

  • Africatown Community Land Trust & King County Equity Now Coalition to support community priorities for effective public and private investments needed to effectively respond to COVID-19 and for greater equity for the Black King County community.
  • Chief Seattle Club to increase advocacy towards equitable responses related to COVID-19 in regard to health, housing, community and economic protections; including indigenous-designed contact tracing for more accurate data collection.
  • CHOOSE 180 & Community Passageways to support the development of a sustainable advocacy strategy led by those most impacted by mass incarceration, to ensure the health and well-being of all incarcerated or court-involved young people in King County.
  • Community Health Board Coalition to address the disparate impact of COVID-19 among BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities by focusing on addressing causes of mental health issues that are rooted in structural racism and are manifesting more vividly because of the pandemic.
  • Gender Justice League to support, activate, and advocate for Trans and non-binary people who are experiencing significant barriers to safe housing (permanent and non-permanent) due to the intersection of transphobia, misogyny, and the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Got Green to continue to advance the goals of their Emergency Justice platform for health justice, tax justice, cash and housing assistance, and green investments for economic justice in response to COVID-19 via education, narrative development, and community action.
  • Interim CDA to promote equitable development and ensure that the Covid-19 crisis is not used to further displace communities of color.
  • The Maternal Coalition to support birth rights, birth advocacy, and perinatal mental health advocacy for communities of color.
  • Muslim Community & Neighborhood Association to support city policies in East King County that protect low-income immigrant and refugee renters from eviction during the COVID-19 crisis and reverberating impacts.
  • Northwest Health Law Advocates to advocate for the maintenance and strengthening of immigrant health coverage and access beyond the COVID-19 pandemic emergency period.
  • OneAmerica’s advocacy efforts to shape a just, community-led recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Puget Sound Sage to continue to support the organizing of Black and Indigenous communities and communities of color in Seattle and King County towards a just COVID-19 recovery framework that centers policies that prevent further displacement and gentrification and promote resiliency through community stewardship of land.
  • Seattle Indian Health Board to continue COVID-related advocacy efforts to ensure adequate funding for the Indian healthcare system, community health centers, and public health in coordination with tribes and tribal organizations.
  • Statewide Poverty Action Network to work towards the creation of and access to direct cash assistance for low-income communities and communities of color in response to the COVID-19 crisis and in COVID-19 recovery.
  • UTOPIA (United Territories of Pacific Islanders’ Alliance) to support the leadership of QTPI (Queer and Trans Pacific Islanders) in King County to achieve essential safety protections for those whose lives and livelihoods are being severely jeopardized by the COVID-19 crisis, especially those involved in the sex trades.
  • Yes Foundation’s support of Pacific Islander youth and their families to engage in the process of raising awareness, identifying solutions and leading change in addressing health disparities highlighted and exacerbated by COVID-19.

Communities of Opportunity is funded jointly through Seattle Foundation and King Country through Best Starts for Kids (BSK). Best Starts for Kids is a voter-approved initiative led by Executive Constantine to promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities in King County. COO is focused on decreasing disparities in health and well-being and improving quality of life in communities with the most to gain, by investing in the places and peoples that are working for community-driven, multi-sector solutions to the upstream causes of inequities. COO uses a strengths-based approach, which centers community voice and leadership and supports communities in their efforts to build connection, capacity, and resilience.

Systems and policy change for more equitable conditions and outcomes is a core component of Communities of Opportunity. COVID-19 has in many ways exacerbated the historic and systemic inequalities that disadvantage low-income and Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color in King County. The COVID-19 Resilience & Response grantees demonstrate a deep commitment to meeting the needs of community in the context of the continued impacts of COVID-19 on health and well-being.

- Andrea Akita, Director, Communities of Opportunity

For more information on the policy and systems change work of Communities of Opportunity, read on here.

For the latest news and funding opportunities from Communities of Opportunity, sign up to receive updates and follow COO on social media for the latest COO news and resources.

Relevant links


Whitney Johnson, Communities of Opportunity, 206-263-3599

Dionne Foster, Seattle Foundation, 206-516-2106



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