Our commitment does not waver with the news cycle
We said it a year ago and we still believe it now: A just and liberated future starts with all of us.
At Group Health Foundation, it starts with prioritizing funding for Black-led organizations and cross-racial work for Black liberation. It starts with building trusting relationships with Black leaders and organizations in every corner of Washington. It starts with listening to the perspectives—and understanding the experiences—of Black people and communities across the state.
Over the last year, we heard stories about communities across Washington leading protests and advocacy in response to systemic violence against Black people. In every region of the state, there were coordinated actions and amplified demands that Black organizers have long been making: for the redirection of police funding to community-led solutions to public safety, for police accountability and independent oversight, and for democratized public processes that center the Black community.
We are taking to heart one common piece of feedback we heard from grantee organizations: Philanthropy must continue to support Black-led organizing. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police marked a global shift in the movement to affirm the power and humanity of Black people. In 2020, funding flowed more freely to racial justice groups because the issue was at the center of the public’s consciousness. However, Black leaders were bracing for an end of that trend based on our sector’s past actions. And their predictions were right; we have already learned firsthand of instances where corporate and foundation dollars have dried up or were never fully delivered as promised.
Group Health Foundation’s commitment to Black liberation does not waver with the news cycle. As an organization founded to advance health equity in Washington, we are clear that goal is not possible without centering communities who systematically have been denied justice. Regardless of social or political convenience, organizations led by and for Black people are an essential part of all of our work.
Since we began significant and multiyear funding in late 2019, 20 percent of our $74 million in total funding have gone to Black-led work across several funds, including for Community Learning Grants and Systems, Power, & Action. Still, we have much to learn about how to be better funders. One early lesson was the necessity of adaptability. We set up the Equitable Response and Recovery Fund last March to support community organizations stretching their resources to fill service gaps in response to COVID-19.
When last summer’s uprisings against police brutality began, we expanded this fund to include work in response to violence toward our communities and added additional dollars. Through it, we made grants specifically to support Black-led organizations and cross-racial work to disrupt anti-Black racism, protest white nationalism, and counter disinformation campaigns.
Today, we are sharing the 41 Washington organizations who received more than $1.2 million in rapid response funding to support protests, advocacy, and other actions last year. These were mostly additional dollars to current grant recipients, so they could continue to be powerful advocates, while also responding to immediate actions and needs. In times of urgency, community leaders often take on additional roles—speakers at public meetings, organizers within their neighborhoods, educators of funders and other institutions—that require added capacity and resources. This money was in addition to—not in place of—other funding. We also had the privilege of meeting with and supporting several Black-led organizations for the first time.
This is not an exhaustive list, just one example of how our grantmaking for Black-led work has evolved over the last year. To us, solidarity with Black communities is not something we do through a single fund, it is integrated in every aspect of our grantmaking, in every single portfolio. As we continue to learn, grow, and meet new organizations and leaders, we continue to invite you to hold us accountable by whom we center, whom we hire, and where we make our grants.
List of Equitable Response and Recovery Grantees
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|African American Community Cultural & Educational Society (AACCES)||Culturally specific Black organization in the Tri-Cities and greater Mid-Columbia River region connecting community through advocacy, popular education, and advocacy rooted in the history, communities, and contributions of African American people and families in the region.||Tri-Cities region|
|African Community Housing & Development||Culturally specific organization that serves African immigrant and refugee families in south King County through health, housing, economic development, and legal programs and services.||South King County|
|Africatown Community Land Trust||Black-led community development organization with a mission to acquire, steward, and develop land assets necessary for the African diaspora community to grow and thrive in Seattle’s Central District.||Seattle|
|Black Education Strategy Roundtable||A coalition of community members, educators, and partner organizations advocating for equitable outcomes for Black students in the state of Washington.||Statewide|
|Byrd Barr Place||Longtime, historically Black-led organization engaging the community in civil rights advocacy, while providing essential services—energy assistance, food bank, housing assistance, and personal finance tools in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood.||King County, with statewide partnerships|
|Communities of Color Coalition||Multi-racial collaborative conducting advocacy efforts and convening policymakers focused on eliminating personal and institutional racism.||Snohomish County, with expanding work in Skagit and Whatcom counties|
|Converge Media, LLC||Provided on-the-ground media coverage of summer 2020 uprisings through daily newscasts and grassroots reporting from the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.||Seattle|
|Emmanuel Family Life Center||Resource center that partners with education programs, nonprofit organizations, and social service agencies to meet the needs of families in Spokane’s East Central and South Perry neighborhoods.||Spokane’s East Central and South Perry District neighborhoods|
|Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle||Led by and serving Eritrean and other African refugees and immigrants, the Eritrean Association is a regional hub to maintain cultural heritage, provide linguistically appropriate programs, and encourage civic engagement through voter education, candidate forums, and more.||Puget Sound|
|Falis Community Services||Multi-racial organization working to improve the health of immigrants and refugees, and providing women and youth with self-reliance and leadership training.||South King County|
|Carl Maxey Center||Founded and led by a group of local leaders and located in the East Central neighborhood of Spokane, the Carl Maxey Center serves as a hub for educational, economic, and cultural programs that support and elevate the African American community.||Spokane|
|Geeking Out Kids of Color||Multicultural organization focused on closing the digital learning gap through technology programs centered around racial and gender equity.||King County|
|Global Perinatal Services||Community-based doula services that educate, respect, and empower low-income refugee and immigrant women and their families during pregnancy, birth, and their first year of parenting.||South King County|
|Got Green||Led by people of color and people with lived experience of lower incomes, this grassroots power-building organization is focused on organizing for environmental, racial, and economic justice and systems change work.||South Seattle|
|Hilltop Urban Garden||Black urban garden and queer-welcoming land reclamation organization with a meaningful advocacy agenda and deep community connections in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood and beyond.||Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood|
|King County Equity Now Black research project||The Black community-based research project of King County Equity Now is an assessment of health and public safety in the Seattle region, and supports demands in participatory budgeting. It is the first step of a multiyear vision to build a nationally prominent Black-led research hub.||King County|
|Lavender Rights Project||Provides low-cost civil legal services and programs centered in values of social justice for trans and queer people with low incomes and other marginalized communities.||Statewide|
|Liberation Medicine School||Liberation Medicine School is a healing justice project organized with, for, and by Black trans and queer people. Classes, healing services, and community gatherings are accessed by people in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Renton, and Federal Way.||King and Pierce counties|
|Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center||Family support organization focused on improving the quality of life for children, youth, seniors, and families through an array of culturally responsive education and support programs in Spokane’s East Central community.||Spokane’s East Central Community|
|Mason County HOST Program||Community-based housing program providing education and wraparound case management for homeless youth—many of whom identify as LGBTQ+—in Mason County.||Mason County|
|Mother Africa||An important access point for resources for African immigrant and refugee women. Providing unduplicated services and celebrating resiliency with strong representative leadership.||King County|
|NAACP Snohomish County||Black-led organization with a mission to ensure equitable outcomes and the protection of civil rights for people of African descent. Volunteer-driven programs are focused on education, advocacy, and youth development.||Snohomish County|
|Not This Time||New organization founded to reduce police violence toward people of color in Seattle. Work includes organizing for police accountability, leadership development with young people, and community healing. Rooted in restorative justice approaches.||Seattle|
|Pan African Center For Empowerment (PACE)||Activism inspired hub and co-working space using STEAM education to serve communities who have been under resourced, with a focus on Black and multi-racial people.||Seattle|
|Phenomenal She||Black-led organization that empowers young women of color by building confidence around education, social awareness, and self-esteem through mentorship and community connection.||South King County, with a focus on Federal Way and Des Moines|
|POC Sex Workers Outreach Project||Seattle-area organization working to end stigma and enhance safety for sex workers of color. Provides services, organizes legislative actions, and leads community-building efforts—all based on and informed by street-based sex workers.||North Seattle|
|Progress Pushers||Provides mentorship and skill development opportunities through the Credible Messengers model to Black, Latino, and other youth who are impacted by systemic inequities.||Seattle, Renton, Federal Way, Lacey, and Chehalis|
|Rainier Beach Action Coalition||RBAC is a grassroot, Black-led organization devoted to locally driven development. For more than 10 years, RBAC has promoted quality education, living wage jobs, affordable transportation and housing, and building community capacity in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood.||South Seattle|
|Rainier Valley Corps||RVC strengthens the power of communities of color in order to create a more equitable society through capacity-building, leadership development, and operations support.||Seattle|
|Renton Innovation Zone Partnership||RIZP serves students, parents, and families who reside in the Renton Innovation Zone neighborhood. The more than 5,000 children inthis neighborhood come from diverse cultural backgrounds.||Skyway|
|Smith Law, LLC||Sadé Smith represented dozens of protestors in the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone during the summer uprisings of 2020, pro bono. This award defrays those costs.||Seattle|
|Somali Community Services of Seattle||Somali-led community organization providing a range of services, including case management and referrals, parent education workshops, and social justice/leadership training. Conducts voter registration, census organizing, and direct voter engagement.||South Seattle and South King County|
|Southwest Washington Communities United for Change||Anti-racist grassroots community group created to empower Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in political action. BIPOC communities are centered and lead the work.||Kelso, Longview, and Vancouver|
|Supporting Partnerships in Education and Beyond||Supporting Partnerships in Education and Beyond (formerly Somali Parents Education Board) is working toward an education system that benefits all children through a culturally responsive and equitable lens. SPEB’s mission is to dismantle systemic inequities in education by engaging parents, educators, and community partners in systems change work on a local, state, and national level.||South King County|
|Surge Reproductive Justice||Women of color and queer people of color-led, reproductive justice organization with a multi-pronged approach that includes policy advocacy, community organizing, and leadership development. Elevates voices of communities experiencing maternal health disparities.||Southeast Seattle|
|Tacoma Urban League||Black-led organization devoted to empowering African Americans and other disenfranchised groups. Programs are focused on eliminating poverty gaps fueled by social injustice and historically oppressive institutions.||Tacoma and Pierce County|
|United Better Thinking||United Better Thinking is a Black-led, community specific organization working primarily with youth and young adults who are underserved through traditional service providers and/or not being serviced at all.||Seattle and South King County|
|Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle||Black-led organization serving the Seattle/King County region through advocacy, direct programming, community outreach, and coalition building across five focus areas: housing, education, workforce development, health, and policy.||Seattle and South King County|
|Vibrant Schools Tacoma||Education collaboration focused on eliminating disparities for students and families of color, as well as those impacted by poverty, who are served by Tacoma Public Schools.||Tacoma|
|Wa Na Wari||Organization feeding African American resilience and endurance in the historically Black Central District of Seattle. Focused on arts and culture, neighborhood reclamation, and organizing.||Central District of Seattle|
|White Center Community Development Association||Community driven development association in unincorporated King County serving the broad range of needs the diverse community of White Center experiences.||White Center and unincorporated King county|