What determines the health of a community? Seattle Foundation believes the policies and institutions that govern our lives are powerful determinants of a community’s overall health.
By Diana Paredes, Senior Learning Manager
What determines the health of a community? Seattle Foundation believes the policies and institutions that govern our lives are powerful determinants of a community’s overall health. A timely case in point is the COVID-19 crisis and the expedient recourse action demonstrated by officials at all government levels. Our COVID-19 response is a sobering reminder that when it comes to caring for our community as a whole, targeting resources to those who are most vulnerable first, is of utmost importance.
Last year, Seattle Foundation granted $60,000 to Byrd Barr Place – a Black-led community-based organization with deep roots in Seattle’s Central District – to complete a descriptive study about the state of the African American community’s health in King County and Washington State. The purpose of the study was to expand knowledge about the daily manifestation of inequitable health systems on the local African American community.
In February, Byrd Barr released its report summarizing the results from this study entitled “And So We Press On.” Using survey data from more than 500 African Americans living in Washington State and who are descendants of formerly enslaved African Americans, the report provides information about the status of the community’s health and wellbeing, including topics such as access to healthcare, quality of living environments, and social and mental health challenges.
In addition to offering social services, conducting research, and driving policy change efforts, Byrd Barr Place is part of a Community of Practice comprised of various Black-led community organizations that are focused on addressing barriers to success for Black residents in King County. A key goal of the Community of Practice is to develop an African American Community Agenda to serve as a roadmap to systemic solutions to the most pressing disparities experienced by the community. The research funded by this grant is one of three research studies completed by Byrd Barr Place to identify key issues and policy solutions to be incorporated into the African American Community Agenda.
Funding for the African American Community Health study is part of a larger Seattle Foundation strategy to fulfill our commitment to advancing racial and economic equity in the Greater Seattle Region. Our interest in funding this study was to advance knowledge about systemic solutions to socioeconomic issues that disproportionately impact the African American community in Washington State.
What You Can Do
Please read and share the full report with community and civic leaders, as well as government officials, colleagues, advocates, and friends to increase our shared understanding of the issues that matter to African American community members in our region.