COVID-19 has increased instability and insecurity for communities across King County and exacerbated inequities in health, housing and economic stability. The rates of confirmed cases are highest among Hispanic/Latinx, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Black residents. Public Health – Seattle and King County data and reporting has captured details of structural root causes for the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on communities of color. This data has been extremely valuable, yet it only tells part of the story. The work of grantees will add to this body of information, while being held and driven by the communities themselves.
Communities of Opportunity (COO) announces $497,000 in grants to community groups who will uplift the stories of the pandemic’s intersecting impacts on communities significantly affected by COVID-19 and identify ways to influence changes to policies. These groups will provide meaningful information based on the lived experiences of King County communities most harmed by systems of oppression and racism. Grantees will collect and analyze this data and develop communications materials that share these stories with broader audiences and connect experiences of community resilience to paths for structural change. These stories will illustrate how different policies and systems can work to dismantle the structural barriers and systemic harms that lead to inequities in health and well-being.
Centro Cultural Mexicano is honored to work with COO to amplify the voices of our Latino community. Our Latino youth, in particular, have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharing the stories of our youth allows us to highlight their current and future needs so that we may address those needs through policy, and in our systems and institutions, in an equitable way. We must ensure that our youth have the opportunity to thrive–now, and in the future.Angie Hinojos, Executive Director, Centro Cultural Mexicano
These projects will contribute to a broader understanding of the community conditions, including aspects of community connection and cultural practices, that benefit our region’s public health. By lifting up the voices, concerns, and solutions of communities whose experiences are often homogenized and flattened, these projects will bring the wisdom and strengths of communities to shape the structures and systems that support thriving, resilient and connected communities.
KCEN developed a widespread, community-led and -centered research project that rightfully establishes Black people as the subject matter experts over our own lives. In community, we develop and implement strategies, and deliver resources to build community peace, health and safety. Partnerships like COO support the scaling of these critical, historic efforts that center Black brilliance and create jobs for hundreds of Black people across King County.Isaac Joy, King County Equity Now (KCEN)
The pandemic has highlighted inequities in public health, public infrastructure, and safety, and more inclusive data is necessary to address the roots of these disparities. Data is power and by supporting community-driven data collection and ownership, we’re supporting a model that keeps the power of data with the people who produce it. Investing in community-level data projects is one way that Communities of Opportunity aims to build practices and models that support communities in defining and designing what is central to their health and healing.
Founded by Ethiopian community activists in response to COVID-19, the Tesfa Program is a grassroots program that supports King County Amharic-speaking Ethiopian immigrants and refugees by providing culturally relevant public health and social service resources. Tesfa’s immediate goal is to help people navigate systems not built for them. We want to leverage what we have learned over the course of this year to improve our larger systems beyond the pandemic. This ‘Learning from Community Stories’ opportunity will help us to create future healthy and thriving King County systems that are inclusive of Ethiopian communities.Selam Misgano, Founder, Tesfa Program
COO also aims to support community-building through these grants which strengthen and embed local knowledge and relationships. Because community groups retain ownership of their own data and drive the storytelling process, it is community that identifies and determines their own narratives. It is also community that drives the process of informing and shifting the civic framework to respond to the diversity and depth of community needs and strengths.
Centro Cultural Mexicano se honra en cooperar con COO para promover y para asegurar que las voces de los jóvenes Latinos sean tomadas en cuenta en futuras iniciativas de la ley. Nuestros jóvenes, particularmente Latinos, han sido afectados a gran escala por el Covid-19. Compartiendo las experiencias de nuestros jóvenes y sus necesidades hacia el futuro nos permite visualizar los efectos de iniciativas de ley en una forma más equitativa y cuantitativa para poder cambiar el sistema de nuestras instituciones. Debemos de asegurar que nuestros jóvenes, particularmente latinos, tengan la oportunidad de aspirar hacia un futuro y una vida mejor.Carlos Jimenez, Board Chair, Centro Cultural Mexicano
Communities of Opportunity is proud to support the following five partner organizations in their work to support and elevate community voices and experiences for a healthier and safer King County.
- Centro Cultural Mexicanowill focus on the direct and estimated long-term effects of COVID-19 on low-income Latino children in King County, including housing stability, education, food security, physical health, and social-emotional well-being.
- Coalición de Pueblos Originarios will engage South King County youth and adults who are from indigenous communities of the P’urhepecha, Ñuu Savi and Kichwa Otovalo.
- King County Equity Now (KCEN)will focus on solutions to improve the on-the-ground, lived experiences of Black communities in King County experiencing the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
- Tesfa Programwill uplift experiences of Amharic-speaking Ethiopian community members throughout King County.
- Washington Dream Coalitionwill engage members of undocumented communities throughout King County to explore research questions relevant to community needs and resilience and systemic changes for long-term impacts.
We look forward to the community stories that will be shared out of this work and the ways in which they will inform needed changes, and highlight innovative practices already happening to address the root causes of inequitable outcomes. Updates on this body of work will be featured on the COO website and blog in 2021.
COO believes deeply that our policies and systems must be shaped by those most impacted by inequities. COVID-19 has exacerbated many of the historic and systemic inequalities that burden communities historically excluded from opportunity. The COVID-19 Storytelling opportunity will uplift the voices and resilience of communities to ensure that these same communities will be at the center of the decisions and actions taken for an equitable and just recovery in King County.Andréa Akita, Director, Communities of Opportunity
Communities of Opportunity is funded jointly by the Seattle Foundation and Best Starts for Kids. Best Starts for Kids is a voter-approved initiative led by Executive Constantine to promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities in King County. COO is focused on improving quality of life in communities with the most to gain, by investing in the places and people working together on community-driven, multi-sector solutions to improve health and well-being.