Our Commitment to Black-led Organizations and Businesses in King County

Marking the One-year Anniversary of REPAIR (Racially Equitable Philanthropy Aimed at Initiating Reparations)

By Jonathan Cunningham

This month, Seattle Foundation marks the one-year anniversary of the Racially Equitable Philanthropy Aimed at Initiating Reparations (REPAIR) framework. Launched the week of Juneteenth in 2021, this framework is a large-scale, long-term effort to invest or direct necessary resources to Black-led Organizations (BLOs) and Black-owned businesses in the Greater Seattle Region.

To truly correct historic underinvestment in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led and -serving organizations from the philanthropic sector, we must be intentional about our funding and vendor relationships. This type of focused investment and repayment is the only way that we can uphold our guiding framework, the Blueprint for Impact, and ensure that everyone in our community has a chance to thrive. REPAIR calls on Seattle Foundation to drive at least $25 million to the Black community over a period of five years, from 2021 – 2025.

As referenced during Black History Month earlier this year, Seattle Foundation proudly invested over $12 million to BLOs in 2021 alone, with half of that input from one-time efforts in response to the pandemic, such as All in WA and the COVID-19 Response Fund. While we celebrate and encourage the ability – and willingness – of our community to come together in times of crisis, we also want to highlight the continuous need to direct funds to Black-led and -serving organizations, as well as Black-owned businesses in King County.

With the launch of the Fund for Inclusive Recovery, Seattle Foundation’s newest effort to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations, the Foundation has committed a minimum of $4.8 million to eight BLOs over the next three years. We’ll continue to drive resources to the Black community through our ongoing grantmaking efforts, sponsorships, vendor relationships, and donor directed giving as well.

Jackie Vaughn is the co-director of Surge Reproductive Justice, which centers Black women, women of color, and Queer and Trans people of color in advocating for reproductive justice. Recently, Seattle Foundation named the nonprofit as one of 21 organizations that would receive a combined total of $12.6 million through the Fund for Inclusive Recovery. This three-year grant will support Surge’s efforts to engage communities most impacted by racism in advocacy work.

Vaughn says REPAIR is about centering and providing resources to those who are the closest to social and racial inequities so that they can determine the best solutions.

“Investing in REPAIR, investing in Black-led organizations, is not just for Black folks,” she said. “This is for everyone, because when we lift the bottom and pull from the margins, we’re lifting everybody up.”

As Seattle Foundation continues the long work of repairing harm to this region’s Black community, we understand that this can only effectively happen with community input. Those at the center of inequities must be able to contribute to the solution. The one-year anniversary of REPAIR is our chance to stand firm in our commitment. We look forward to doing more to provide much-needed resources to Black leaders, organizations, and the people they serve. We encourage our philanthropic partners and donors to reflect deeply and join us on this journey.

To learn more about REPAIR, contact Senior Program Officer Jonathan Cunningham.

The video in this post was shot and produced by Michael B. Maine.