Photo credit: Our Future Matters/YES Foundation and Mel Ponder

Taking “Many Roads” to Stronger Communities

A New Booklet Celebrates 30 Years of Neighbor to Neighbor.

By Aileen Balahadia

I have had the honor of partnering with countless community organizations through my work with Seattle Foundation’s grantmaking program Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N). For 30 years, N2N has advanced racial equity by investing in the power of community in Seattle-area neighborhoods. Today, we serve all South Seattle, White Center, and Kent.

To mark N2N’s 30th Anniversary, we uplifted our grantees and their critical community work. We collaborated with past and current grantees to generate 35 social media posts, produce 30 videos, commission eight articles written by South Seattle Emerald staff, hold a virtual celebration, and create a booklet celebrating our three decades of advancing racial equity. As we close out N2N’s 30th Anniversary celebrations, we want to call special attention to this final piece.

The phrase on the front of the booklet, “Many Roads,” pays tribute to the more than 400 grassroot organizations N2N has had the privilege of working with over the years. Since its inception in 1991, N2N has granted close to $3.4 million to community partners who typically operate on annual budgets of less than $200,000. As the booklet describes, funding from N2N better positions community organizations to thrive. Special thanks to the South Seattle Emerald for co-producing the piece with us.

We invite you to learn more about N2N’s history and progress by reading the booklet. You’ll discover how this key program of Seattle Foundation began and how N2N has influenced policymakers, civic leaders, and other philanthropic entities. You’ll understand why we invest in strengthening relationships among leaders of grassroots organizations. As former Seattle Foundation President and CEO Tony Mestres shared, N2N partners are at the heart of our efforts to address systemic inequities.

“These partners are working every day to address the inequities in our community and they do it with incredible passion, great dedication, and real partnership with each other,” Mestres states in the booklet.

One critical feature of the booklet is an exploration of how several organizations have used N2N support to increase their impact. The final pages list every grassroots organization that has received a grant. The text of the booklet specifically highlightsDuwamish River Clean Up Coalition, Got Green, Iraqi Community Center of Washington, Nurturing Roots, OneAmerica, Open Doors for Multicultural Families, Somali Community Services of Seattle, White Center Community Development Association, and Colectiva Legal del Pueblo.

Colectiva Legal’s Founder and Executive Director credits N2N as the very first grant for the bilingual immigrant legal services agency. “We didn’t even know how to write a grant application, but Judy (de Barros, then N2N’s program consultant) helped us fill out the forms,” stated Sandy Restrepo in the booklet. Today, Colectiva has a team of immigrant specialists from attorneys to translators, community workers, and paralegals.

Investing in communities most impacted by inequities means maintaining long-term relationships and proactively building trust. We’re so thankful that our community members have trusted Seattle Foundation and N2N to support creative community-led solutions. We are committed to this effort for the long-haul and dedicated to constant learning and evolving.

As N2N continues to reimagine philanthropy, we are excited to look ahead to 2022 and announce the expansion of our geographic footprint. Right now, the N2N Advisory Committee and Seattle Foundation are still in the process of determining which neighborhood to invest in next. This involves a six-month data analysis effort, during which we will interview community leaders, philanthropic partners and other stakeholders, evaluate census and other demographic data, and utilize other important data identified by community. Our hope is that by mid-2022, we will launch our efforts in a new location, alongside our 3 existing communities. We invite you to share your ideas or get involved by contacting me.

As our grantee partners have demonstrated, it truly takes many roads for our communities to become stronger and more vibrant. N2N is thrilled to be on this road together.

Learn more about N2N and to read the digital version of the N2N 30th Anniversary booklet.