Even before the pandemic, small BIPOC-owned businesses and restaurants in the South End faced systemic barriers to success, including lack of access or resources as well as the ever-looming threat of gentrification and displacement. The pandemic only magnified these barriers. The processes of applying for vital loans and grants and pivoting to a greater online presence, all while somehow trying to maintain business as usual, were overwhelming without help. That’s where the Essential Southeast Seattle collective (ESES) comes in.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
DEEL’s New Youth-Led Social Justice Mini-Grant Applications Open!
From the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL): “This week, DEEL opened applications for a new Youth-Led Social Justice Mini-Grant that will invest up to $100,000 toward youth-led social justice projects to address hate and bias toward Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI); Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC); and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities. Grants of $500–$8,000 per applicant will be awarded through a non-competitive process.
“The Youth-Led Social Justice Mini-Grant was first announced in March 2021 by Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council in response to increased hate crimes and bias that continue to harm Seattle’s AAPI community. This grant will invest in and amplify the voices of passionate youth leaders in Seattle advocating for anti-racism, anti-discrimination, and positive change.
“DEEL worked closely with the Seattle Youth Commission and other Seattle youth to advise on the application’s design and outreach strategy to ensure the grant is accessible, transparent, and inclusive.
“All Seattle youth ages 12–24 are eligible to apply. Applications are open to individuals, youth-led groups such as school clubs or community-based groups, as well as community-based organizations who can demonstrate that projects will be led by youth. Applicants can choose to submit their application in either a written or video format.”
Deadline to apply is Oct. 25 at 5 p.m.
For more information, including eligibility requirements and the application timeline, and to apply for this mini-grant, visit DEEL’s Youth-Led Social Justice Mini-Grant webpage.
The Multicultural Community Coalition (MCC) and numerous partners have worked tirelessly to steward community priorities at the Opportunity Center at Othello Square, once slated for completion in 2023. The Opportunity Center aimed to anchor several community-based organizations serving thousands of immigrants and refugees, co-located STEM education, entrepreneurial business resources, affordable retail space, and mixed-income and affordable housing. We garnered support from all levels of government and the philanthropic community and devoted substantial human and social capital to the project for over a decade because our communities face grave displacement and underinvestment from neighborhoods that they helped build and shape.
Yet, despite over 10 years of community visioning, commitments from multiple City of Seattle departments, and millions of dollars in public and private investment, we are no closer to the Opportunity Center breaking ground.
While the Opportunity Center was identified as one of the City’s Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) demonstration projects and its community priorities were codified in the City’s Equitable Development Implementation Plan and the Othello Neighborhood Plan Update, it is hardly closer to becoming a reality than when our state and local elected officials rallied around it in 2015.
When talking about his run for Renton City Council, Joseph Todd’s voice breaks slightly and wavers. “I’m sorry, I get a little emotional here.”
He recalls George Floyd’s death a year ago, which sparked a worldwide racial reckoning.
“When we saw a man get murdered in daylight, it begins to bring home, for real, for real, that these systems are trying to kill you,” Todd said. “So that’s why when we created the Renton Residents for Change, it was really all about, ‘We have to get ahead of this.’”
An affordable housing developer got a reprieve as the minutes ticked down toward its deadline to move forward with plans for a mixed-use building as part of an ambitious four-building complex near the Othello Link light rail station in South Seattle.
HomeSight leaders are expected to send a new proposal for Building A of the Othello Square campus project — which includes the Opportunity Center with more than 200 units of affordable housing above it — for a vote at its board meeting this week. If approved, the developer will receive a 90-day extension to purchase the Building A property for the development from the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA). The original deadline to buy the parcel was Jan. 15, but SHA granted an extension, and HomeSight’s board is expected to consider the proposal on Thursday, Feb. 11.
The Rainier Valley Community Development Fund will no longer be a partial owner in HomeSight’s Othello Square Project.
Though the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (RVCDF) originally signed a letter of interest with HomeSight to become a partial owner of Building A in the mixed-use development, when it came to the capital call, RVCDF Board President Doug Cargill said that they “couldn’t square the circle,” and had to prioritize the nonprofit lending firm’s capacity to continue serving clients.