Equitable Development Initiative Awards $5.5 Million to Community Organizations

On July 5, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and the City of Seattle announced $5.5 million in awards through the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), part of the City’s effort to support Seattle’s existing community members and businesses in high displacement risk neighborhoods.

“Seattle is facing an affordability crisis, which has displaced far too many and left behind many of our neighborhoods and businesses,” said Mayor Durkan, who visited the Ethiopian Community in Seattle earlier today. “To tackle these challenges, our City is investing in community organizations who are leading the way in creating true economic vitality and opportunity within Seattle’s most underserved communities.”

The EDI fund, administered by the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD), was created to respond to the needs of marginalized populations, reduce disparities, and support access to opportunity in healthy, vibrant communities. The initiative is championed by community organizations concerned about displacement pressures and historical lack of investment that has occurred in communities of color in Seattle.

“Our values call for a Seattle that all communities can call home, and where all residents have access to a positive future,” said Sam Assefa, Director of OPCD. “The community-based organizations EDI invests in supports resiliency in vulnerable areas. Our aim is to improve racial equity and knock down institutional barriers to create a city in which everyone thrives.”

EDI fosters community leadership and supports organizations to promote equitable access to jobs, education and child care, outdoor space and recreation, cultural expression, healthy food, and other community needs and amenities. These new partnerships are designed to support leadership and build capacity building among the most historically marginalized groups in Seattle, sharing in decision-making and power, and working towards racial equity outcomes that allows all communities to thrive.

The following community-based organizations working in Seattle on anti-displacement strategies and economic development opportunities have been selected:

  • African Women Business Alliance — $75,000 for capacity building to explore a permanent home for the Alliance and to support economic development of women-owned businesses.
  • Africatown — $1,075,000 for capacity-building and development expenses to include affordable commercial space to the Midtown affordable housing project.
  • Chief Seattle Club — $925,000 for capacity-building, project development, and construction of affordable housing, healthcare, and art gallery space serving the American Indian/Alaska Native community.
  • Filipino Community of Seattle — $1,000,000 for capacity building, pre-development, and construction of senior housing, technical learning center, and community gathering space.
  • Duwamish Valley Affordable Housing Coalition — $75,000 for capacity building to support a multi-use project that includes affordable housing, childcare, and community space.
  • United Indians of All Tribes — $1,075,000 for capacity building and development of the Northwest Native Canoe Center on Lake Union and rehabilitation of Daybreak Star Center.

Three additional applicants – Ethiopian Community in Seattle, West African Community Center, and Black and Tan Hall – have also been selected to support capacity building and project development needs. The three projects will receive funding from the remaining $460,000, with specific contract amounts for each project to be determined later.

One additional project will receive funding for acquisition of an existing childcare and community center. Details will be available after the conclusion of an ongoing real estate transaction.

Several projects are likely to receive additional EDI awards in the future.

Since November 2016, OPCD and partner departments, including Office of Economic Development (OED), Office of Housing (OH), Department of Neighborhoods (DON), Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), and Office for Civil Rights (OCR), have been coordinating the administration of the EDI Fund.

The EDI Fund was established with $16 million from the sale of the Civic Square property adjacent to Seattle City Hall. The fund also receives $430,000 in annual funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant.

EDI awards are intended to complement existing funding sources and address gaps identified by communities in the existing resources available to them. Engagement with partner organizations will involve a multi-year process of building capacity, developing a project, and overseeing implementation and reporting.

OPCD and partner departments established an Interim Advisory Board (IAB) to help guide the EDI and to provide feedback and approval of the criteria and decision-making processes for the fund. The IAB provided recommendations to the city on the funding decisions announced today.

Projects were evaluated on their ability to positively impact several equity drivers, that lead to racial equity outcomes including:

  • Promoting economic opportunity through education, job training, and enhancing community cultural anchors.
  • Helping marginalized populations, businesses, and community organizations stay in their neighborhoods.
  • Enhancing health outcomes, access to healthy, culturally relevant food, and supporting safe environments.


Successful applicants demonstrated a deep relationship with the community they are seeking to serve and feature an inclusive community process, with community members serving in their organizational leadership.

Information about the next round of EDI funding will be released in early 2019.

The Equitable Development Initiative

Earlier in 2016, OPCD created the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI), a set of strategies that emerged from our Growth and Equity Report, part of the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan update. The EDI involves many different City departments coordinating to address equity in our underserved communities and displacement as Seattle grows. Various EDI strategies will:

  • Advance economic mobility and opportunity
  • Prevent residential, commercial, and cultural displacement
  • Build on local cultural assets
  • Promote transportation mobility and connectivity
  • Develop healthy and safe neighborhoods

City department directors are working together to make decisions around the EDI. Here are some updates.

The EDI Fund: Mayor Murray announced in October that the City has signed an agreement on the pending transfer of the Civic Square project next to City Hall, with $16 million in proceeds to establish the new EDI Fund. The Mayor’s EDI budget also includes an additional $200,000 in General Fund in 2017 and thereafter, and $430,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in 2018 and thereafter, to support organizational capacity building, feasibility studies, etc.

The City has created a committee of the Capital Cabinet composed of the directors of the Office of Planning and Community Development, Office of Economic Development, Office of Civil Rights, Office of Housing and Department of Neighborhoods to help manage the overall initiative and fund, including developing funding criteria and community engagement process. The directors are reviewing how to best leverage City dollars to support EDI communities and projects. Expect to hear more about the EDI Fund and decision-making processes in early 2017.

OPCD EDI Staffing: OPCD is pleased to announce that Ubax Gardheere will join us as manager of the OPCD EDI staff team in late November. Ubax comes to us from Puget Sound Sage, and she brings experience in both policy development and community organizing around a diversity of issues. Our current EDI team is already engaged with communities throughout the City including the Central Area, Rainier Beach, Chinatown/ID, Delridge and Duwamish, to name a few.

Click on these links for more information about the Growth and Equity Report and related documents.