The City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) will award twelve community organizations from the Innovation Fund to test new ideas in human service delivery. A total of $225,000 was available to fund program ideas that address the department’s priorities: (1) preparing youth for success, (2) addressing homelessness, (3) promoting public health, (4) supporting affordability and livability, (5) responding to gender-based violence, or (6) promoting healthy aging. More than 100 applications were received, from which twenty-two finalists were chosen to participate in interviews. All proposals focus on reducing disparities for people of color, and nine organizations are of color themselves. Half of the awardees have never been funded by HSD previously.
“The Innovation Fund gives organizations the space to be creative in how they reduce racial disparities and empower our communities to thrive.” Says HSD Director Catherine Lester. “This is an opportunity for our department to partner closely with the awardees, and together learn what works.”
At least one proposal per department priority has been awarded funding. As part of the City’s Age-Friendly Seattle initiative, HSD designated $125,000 of the total Innovation Fund to support up to six projects that addressed the “Promoting Health Aging” impact area. Each awardee will receive between $10,000 and $21,000 to execute their idea.
Preparing Youth for Success
• East African Community Services-Saturday Math Academy
Success in mathematics is an indicator of college readiness. East African students K-5th grade will attend the Saturday Math Academy to learn a love for math.
Supporting Affordability and Livability
• Multicultural Community Center Coalition-Shared Service Model
Immigrants, refugees, and people of color often live in separate communities but have issues that unite them. A new partnership model co-locates 10 organizations that will collaborate daily to create a safe, livable community for immigrants, refugees, and people of color.
• Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project-Resource Guide
Real Change will create and distribute a free comprehensive Resource Guide that lists services for low-income individuals and families and persons experiencing homelessness in Seattle. One section of the guide will highlight service providers that focus on racial equity.
Responding to Gender-Based Violence
• Somali Family Safety Task Force-Breaking the Silence
A Somali community forum will train community leaders – elders and imams – on gender-based violence in a culturally appropriate way to remove the stigma surrounding the topic and ultimately reduce the violence itself.
Promoting Public Health
• Mercy Housing Northwest-Accessible Primary Care for the Somali Community
The Somali population underutilizes primary care, but regular visits could significantly reduce health disparities. An after-hours walk-in clinic will bring services into an affordable housing community to address this issue.
Promoting Healthy Aging
• Women United-Threads of Change
Kinship caregivers experience high physical and emotional stress. A sewing class will connect low-income women and women of color to each other and to resources so that they can mend themselves while learning to mend fabrics.
• Latino Community Fund of Washington State-Bailando Toward Healthy Aging
Imagine a space where Latinx youth and seniors build community, share access to health services, and celebrate Latinx culture through dance. A series of culturally relevant dance classes will be held twice a month at rotating community locations in South Seattle.
• Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle-Eritrean Elder Outreach Program
An intergenerational program will link Eritrean elders to youth in a setting that will support both demographics. Elders will receive a variety of culturally-specific health and social services, and youth will hear and record their elders’ stories, creating a deep community bond.
• Tilth Alliance-The Community Good Food Project
Community-led dinners and weekly deliveries of fresh produce to three congregate meal kitchens will reduce disparities in food access and nutrition for seniors – especially Latinx; Ethiopian and Eritrean; and Laotian, Hmong, and Mien seniors – in Southeast Seattle.
• API Chaya-Innovation in Action: Whose Streets? Our Streets!
A group of queer, trans, people of color, parents, disabled individuals, and seniors will define safety and conduct public safety audits using a mapping app. The findings will be submitted to (1) the city to inform city-planning needs and (2) the SafetiPin app creators for use in Seattle.
• National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA)—Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral (TCARE) Readiness for Korean and Vietnamese Communities
Korean and Vietnamese American communities show grave disparities in accessing TCARE, which helps ease caregivers’ stress and depression. NAPCA will test these communities’ readiness and cultural appropriateness of TCARE.
• University of Washington-Promoting early awareness and support for cognitive health and impairment in underserved communities
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) – likely due to stigma – underreport Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. The University of Washington will partner with and train AAPI-serving organizations in Seattle to identify culturally responsive ways to share the action brief, thereby reducing the associated stigma.