New Fund Seeks New Ideas for Achieving Results and Racial Equity

The City of Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) is piloting an Innovation Fund to test new ideas or programs that focus on achieving results and racial equity. This fund will make available $225,000 for new ideas related to one of the department’s six impact areas: (1) Preparing Youth for Success, (2) Addressing Homelessness, (3) Supporting Affordability and Livability, (4) Responding to Gender-Based Violence, (5) Promoting Public Health, and (6) Promoting Healthy Aging.

As part of the City’s Age-Friendly Seattle initiative, HSD is designating $125,000 of the total Innovation Fund to support up to six projects at approximately $21,000 each. These projects will need to advance the “Promoting Healthy Aging” impact area, and discuss how they align with one or more of the Age-Friendly Seattle goals to: 1) increase social participation, 2) decrease displacement, 3) increase racial equity, and 4) increase awareness of the positive contributions of older adults.  In July 2016, Seattle joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. The balance of the Innovation Fund will be awarded to five projects at $20,000 each to advance one of HSD’s other five impact areas.


“Our department continues to be committed to results and racial equity,” said HSD Director Catherine L. Lester. “We see this Innovation Fund pilot as a way to encourage creativity and risk taking, both of which are important in responding to the human service issues our community faces. I am excited to see how this Innovation Fund pilot helps us to test new ideas and support our learning with our partners as we carry out our commitment to results and racial equity. This pilot is an important part of HSD’s work to strengthen the capacity of the human service sector,” Lester continued.


The traditional view of capacity-building can range from hiring extra staff, to providing special training, to sharing resources across different organizations. The goal of the Innovation Fund pilot is to move beyond traditional methods by supporting organizations, people, or programs that can look at the areas HSD wants to affect and try something new.

Eligible applicants may include, but are not limited to, non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, government agencies, researchers and individuals. The application process will be through a Request for Proposal (RFP) and consist of a one-page document with less than 500 words describing the proposals.

The Innovation Fund RFP will be released on June 1, 2017 at  Awards will be made in August 2017, with projects beginning in September 2017.  For more information on HSD’s work and six impact areas, visit