Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force unveils recommendations for $30 million in funding for BIPOC communities

Mayor Durkan’s Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force today announced its recommendations for how to invest $30 million into the city’s BIPOC communities.

The task force, convened by the Mayor last fall, was chartered with deciding how “to make unprecedented and sustained investments in Black, Indigenous and people of color communities.” It consists of 25 members, representing a variety of organizations working the the Black, immigrant, indigenous, and Hispanic communities in Seattle. The Mayor originally proposed a budget of $100 million for the task force to make recommendations on investing; however, the Council cut that down to $30 million, put $30 million aside for a participatory budgeting program that has been delayed and likely won’t happen until 2022, and restored funding for a Strategic Investment Fund — originally funded by proceeds from the sale of the Mercer Megablock site but which was proposed to be cut by the Mayor in last fall’s budget belt-tightening.

The task force, which kept its meetings closed to the public to avoid the acrimony that has plagued City Hall in the past year (but published its agendas and minutes after the fact), recommended nine investments across four theme areas: education, health, housing, and business. According to their press release today, they intend for approximately one-quarter of the $30 million, i.e. $7.5 million, to go to each of the four theme areas. Here is how their nine recommendations break out:

Building Opportunity through Small Business Support ($7.5M)

  • Business development and technical assistance: addressing disparities in BIPOC business startups and sustainability, by focusing on systemic discriminatory practices that deny access to capital and business credit and that target BIPOC communities for predatory loans and high-risk financial products.

Developing Diverse and Culturally Competent Educators and Education Opportunities ($7.5M)

  • Cultural education for BIPOC youth: addressing the lack of culturally competent academic support, by focusing on training and education in cultural histories in museums and institutions.
  • Programs for the formerly incarcerated: addressing post-incarceration re-entry into society through training and education opportunities and pathways to living wage employment.
  • Equity Education Innovation Fund: addressing the lack of academic and social enrichment programs that advance student performance and retention, through programs that engage and support families, provide culturally relevant curricula, increase racial diversity of teachers, and provide college readiness.

Accessing Affordable Housing, Land Acquisition and Generational Wealth ($7.5M)

  • Lease to purchase homeowner program: addresses the lack of affordable housing in Seattle through development of lease-to-buy, ownership retention, affordable housing, and generational wealth education programs.
  • Generational wealth and apprenticeship pipeline program: addressing systemic conditions hindering the accumulation of wealth, particularly through real estate ownership, by creating apprenticeship programs, generational wealth education programs, and programs connecting communities to resources and services.

Increasing Positive Health Outcomes ($7.5M)

  • Food access and environmental justice: addressing the systemic conditions that lead to “food deserts” through new strategic models to increase food access and reduce environmental degradation.
  • Culturally responsive and inclusive healthcare: addressing systemic discriminatory practices in the medical community that foster mistrust, by creating culturally relevant and responsive healthcare programs.
  • Workforce development of healthcare providers of color: addressing the lack of representation in the healthcare profession by creating new and/or nontraditional paths into health careers, and providing technical assistance to smaller healthcare providers.

The City Council has previously indicated that it wanted the task force’s recommendations to be aligned with those coming out of the Black Brilliance Research Project that will be used to drive the $30 million participatory budgeting program next year. At a high level, the alignment is pretty good:

According to a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office, the task force is now working with city departments (at least ten of them) on the implementation plan. Once it is designed, legislation will be drafted and transmitted to the Council; that is expected to happen around the end of June or early July.

Click to access RecommendationPresentationECIu.pdf

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