Increasing Investment in Black-led Organizations


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Watch a recording of the Increasing Investment in Black-led Organizations webinar here.
Download the report PDF here.

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020
2 – 3 p.m.

Increasing Investment in Black-led Organizations
How funding Black civic leadership supports racial justice.

Cultural displacement. Barriers to economic opportunity. Health disparities. Throughout King County and beyond, Black-led nonprofits play an instrumental role in addressing the many ways systemic racism harms our community, leading the way toward positive policy changes that improve lives and strengthen our democracy. What do these organizations need and how can we help them build power? How can funders help counter disenfranchisement and foster civic engagement?

Seattle Foundation sought out to answer these questions by convening leaders of Black-led organizations for a series of monthly conversations about their strengths, challenges, and needs. In partnership with Byrd Barr Place, we recently completed a research project designed to gain insight into the experiences of Black-led organizations and how philanthropy can better support them. Join us as we discuss what we’ve learned with local nonprofit leaders.


Michael Brown, Civic Architect, Civic Commons, Seattle Foundation
Michael Brown is the Chief Architect of Civic Commons, a new regional civic infrastructure of Seattle Foundation aimed at uniting more community voices in decision-making to advance racial and economic equity. Most recently, Michael served as the Foundation’s Vice President of Community Programs, where he oversaw the Foundation’s community impact efforts, strategic grantmaking initiatives, convening activities, and impact investing program. Since beginning his tenure at the foundation in 2001, Michael has led efforts to elevate community voice and foster public-private partnerships, tackling complex challenges in the areas of affordable housing, economic and racial equity, policy, and advocacy. He led the development of the Seattle Foundation's Center for Community Partnerships, which focuses directly on targeted efforts to achieve greater racial and economic equity.

Gregory Davis, Executive Committee Chair, Rainier Beach Action Coalition
Gregory manages strategy for the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC). RBAC stewards the Rainier Beach neighborhood plan and is focused on neighborhood engagement and empowerment. RBAC operates initiatives focused on food justice, non arrest crime intervention strategies, economic development and the use of the power of social media to change the narrative of how people see and speak of Rainier Beach.  RBAC prides itself on the fact that 50% of its workforce are young adults from the Rainier Beach neighborhood. Mr. Davis as he is affectionately referred to by young and old alike is also the principal for Kismet Strategies LLC, whose tag line is “Helping those we assist reach their destiny”. Services include technical assistance and expert facilitation for community coalitions, community development practitioners and municipal governments.  

Andrea Caupain Sanderson, Chief Executive Officer, Byrd Barr Place
For two decades, Andrea Caupain Sanderson has worked passionately to make a positive impact on issues of racial equity and poverty. As Byrd Barr Place’s chief executive officer since 2008, she has built a strong foundation for future growth by effectively leading the organization through critical change and innovation. Through her work, she supports new approaches to services that benefit low-income people in our region. She also advocates diligently to put disadvantaged people, equity and communities of color at the center of a movement to advance intergenerational well-being in Washington state. Andrea brings a strong sense of leadership and vision to Byrd Barr Place, an agency with a long legacy serving the community and providing lifeline services to the poor. She has an MPA and a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College.

Sharon N. Williams, Executive Director, CD Forum
Sharon Nyree Williams is a storyteller and arts administrator. She is the Executive Director for the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas. They present, produce and develop multidisciplinary work by Black artists and provide access for courageous conversations to diverse audiences. Sharon is the founder of The Mahogany Project a theatre arts collaborative that focuses on allowing Black artists an opportunity to share their voice. She also serves on the Seattle Arts Commission, Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District, Langston Board of Directors, FEED Worldwide Advisory Board, Adult Advisory Committee for Creative Justice and former Board of Trustee for Cornish College of the Arts. Sharon is a proud member of the 2009 Seattle University Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership graduate. Sharon is also proud to be a graduate of the Historical Black College and University, Delaware State University with two degrees Bachelors of Arts in Television Production and a Masters of Business Administration.


Jonathan Cunningham, Senior Program Officer, Seattle Foundation
Jonathan brings a wealth of professional experience in developing, implementing and managing community initiatives for the last 15 years. He is a former Seattle Arts Commissioner with deep knowledge of navigating public, private and municipal partnerships. He’s currently serves on the board of 21 Progress and The Residency, a youth-focused hip-hop and social justice initiative he co-founded in 2015. He’s a graduate of the University of Michigan and was a member of The Funders Network’s PLACES Fellowships in 2019.

Watch a recording of the Increasing Investment in Black-led Organizations webinar hereDownload the report PDF here.

For information about this event, please contact Events Manger, Zandra Grissom at