Group of Got Your Back members standing outside on a sunny day. Got Your Back engages youth through sports and arts to build a community that can foster wellness.

They’ve Got Your Back: N2N Spotlight Spring 2023

For the first time, Seattle Foundation is awarding grants to organizations in SeaTac/Tukwila. In honor of the occasion, we’re highlighting Got Your Back (GYB) for their work with Somali and African American youth.

Group of Got Your Back members standing outside on a sunny day. Got Your Back engages youth through sports and arts to build a community that can foster wellness.
GYB supports younger generations through sports, aiming to reduce mental health stigmas, and promote healthy nutrition and wellness. Photo courtesy of Got Your Back (GYB)

By Aileen Balahadia, N2N Program Consultant

N2N is halfway through our first year serving the SeaTac/Tukwila neighborhood! As we introduce ourselves to the community and make new connections, we’d like to spotlight a new grassroots organization called Got Your Back (GYB). N2N is proud to support this community’s young adult leaders by awarding the organization its first nonprofit grant.

GYB’s mission is to impact underserved communities and support younger generations through sports, aiming to reduce mental health stigmas, and promote healthy nutrition and wellness. The organization focuses primarily on Somali and African American youth who reside in the SeaTac/Tukwila neighborhoods. As many people have experienced, the challenges of maintaining mental and physical health have taken their toll in the post-COVID era. But it also isn’t a new issue—many youth also carry the generational trauma of their parents and elders.

Najib Hassan, vice president of the board, shared that he and his group could tell immediately that the kids were suffering and feeling isolated.

“We are not that much older than the kids we’re talking about. We’re all in our mid-20s; we know because we were feeling the same thing. We didn’t necessarily need to hear it from their words — you could see it even in their body language.”

GYB’s engages youth through sports and arts to build a community that can foster wellness. Omar Ali, a volunteer, shared that Tukwila is a tight-knit community.

“We have only three elementary schools that feed into one middle school and then into one Foster High School—so we all grow up together and know each other.”

As a new organization, N2N will support GYB to formally kick off their work with an event at Foster High School that will be co-designed with community. Attendees can expect to have lots of fun, share resources, and receive mental health support.

The event’s emcee Mohamed Abdi shared, “We want to communicate that physical health goes hand-in-hand with mental health. And we also will focus on mentorship, goal setting, and leadership.” In 2022, Mohamed won the election to the Tukwila City Council. At 25 years old, Mohamed is the youngest ever serving person on city council. GYB members volunteered for his campaign.

“We believed in his vision to bring innovation and a new perspective from the next generations. Through door-knocking, placing signs all over the city of Tukwila, and assisting with his public speeches, we have contributed and seen an increase of engagement from younger generations,” shared Executive Director Abdikani Ali.

We want to communicate that physical health goes hand-in-hand with mental health. We also will focus on mentorship, goal setting, and leadership.

— Mohamed Abdi

Inspired by having a real-life example of political representation, GYB also plans to establish a youth advisory council. This council will help plan and provide feedback on programs and services and act as ambassadors for the organization in their community. As a result, they will develop leadership from within.

The complete list of 15 N2N Spring 2023 grantees is as follows:

  1. ADEFUA Cultural Education Workshop: To support the Rites of Passage program for South Seattle area Black girls to engage in activities that emphasize the study of West African culture, music, song and dance; learn key socio-emotional skills; and receive mentorship from the community.
  2. Bridging Wisdom: To support a student-led intergenerational program of immigrant and students of color from Franklin High School and low-income Elders from Esperanza House Apartments in South Seattle to reduce isolation and increase connection, community, and joy.
  3. Church of Justice**: To develop a “Community of Justice Black Collective” focused on community-led advocacy addressing gentrification, education, police violence, and other issues with an initial focus on reclaiming a faith-based center in South Seattle as a center of activity.
  4. Concord International Elementary Native Indigenous Students Club*: To support the leadership and develop a strong community for the Native/Indigenous Students Club (and their families) at Concord International Elementary School in South Park.
  5. Deconstructing the Mental Health System Inc*: To address systemic challenges for BIPOC communities accessing mental health services by developing a pipeline of BIPOC students and associated therapists in King County trained to support the community’s diverse needs and partnering with local nonprofits and providing education to the broader South Seattle community.
  6. Djibouti Community of America: To support the Djibouti and African community’s youth leadership project, engaging their families and the larger communities in South Seattle and SeaTac/Tukwila through intergenerational dialogue and activities focused on improving relationships and educational outcomes.
  7. Got Your Back**: To support East African/Somali youth in the SeaTac/Tukwila area through community events focused on the connection between physical and mental health, attacking the stigmas placed on seeking help, and forming a youth advisory council.
  8. Integration Family Services: To support the Somali Mothers Community Advocacy Group, primarily from Kent and SeaTac/Tukwila, as well as to gather, share stories, experiences, and co-create strategies and solutions for social and economic issues identified by the group.
  9. KVRU 105.7FM: To pilot a relaunch of the KVRU News Circle and community “beat reporters” to create a fuller broadcast schedule of community-created content amplifying BIPOC voices from Southeast Seattle and the organizations that serve them.
  10. Nepantla Cultural Arts Center: To support free, culturally relevant arts programming and educational workshops to BIPOC communities in the greater White Center area to build community and promote sustainable art skills or forms of healing thru art.
  11. People of the Confluence: To support indigenous ecology, cultural, and medicinal curriculum in South Seattle and the surrounding area utilizing the knowledge and wisdom of Ancestors to rebuild the connection between youth and elders.
  12. Perihelion Community Solutions*: To support a senior advocacy project providing training and support to aging Black seniors in Kent, SeaTac/Tukwila, and South King County to develop advocacy skills and improve health outcomes.
  13. Team Redeemed Life Center: To develop relationships with at-risk BIPOC youth in Kent using trained Peer Mentors and credible messengers who have lived through adversity and gang violence and hope to prevent the same with youth.
  14. Washington Family Advocacy Board (WAFAB)*: To organize families and create a family engagement and advocacy monthly meeting planner to be used by SeaTac/Tukwila and South Seattle charter school parent leaders to build community, knowledge, and power.
  15. West Hill Community Association*: To develop BIPOC leaders and increase access to information and event engagement in unincorporated Skyway-West Hill through a dedicated staff organizer with expertise in outreach, program delivery, nonprofit organizations, and community leadership.

*Indicates a first-time applicant to N2N
**Indicates the first time an organization has written a grant application

For more information about Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N), please contact Program Consultant Aileen Balahadia at 206-250-4299 or [email protected]. The quarterly deadlines for N2N are January 30, April 30, July 30, and October 30.