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Executive Constantine announces $4.6 million to promote equitable access to youth sports and outdoor recreation, investments guided by Black and Brown communities

Summary

King County Parks partnered with the King County Play Equity Coalition and 50 independent community reviewers to evaluate proposals applying the principles of racial equity to guide $4.6 million in funding for youth sports and recreation that was announced today by Executive Constantine.

Story

King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced $4.6 million in Youth Sports and Outdoor Recreation Relief funding – including a substantial boost from federal COVID-19 recovery aid – to improve access to sports and recreation for youth of color following extensive community-based review that helped focus investments on racial equity.

A total of 45 organization will receive funding based on a comprehensive community review process designed to promote equitable access to sports and recreation. King County Parks partnered with the King County Play Equity Coalition and 50 independent community reviewers to evaluate proposals, applying the principles of racial equity.

"Investing in these 45 community-led projects will create more opportunities for young people - and particularly young people of color - to play, exercise, and connect, and will contribute to the long-term health of our entire region,” said Executive Constantine. “Success requires significant investments guided by community expertise. Thanks to our strong partnership with the King County Play Equity Coalition, that is exactly what we are delivering.”

Here are a few examples of the 45 community-led projects that will receive funding:

  • Braided Seeds, a Black woman-led nonprofit working to remove barriers so Black, Indigenous peoples, and young people of color can get outside to enjoy the outdoors and reconnect to the land
  • AGE UP, a people of color-led, neighborhood-based organization leveraging the power of sports for a more just society by providing sports-based youth leadership programs in partnership with six Seattle public schools
  • Game of Life Sports Mentoring, a sports-based youth leadership development and mentoring program addressing the disproportionality of Black and Brown youth in the County’s juvenile justice system and to give young people an alternative to violence via basketball and mentorship

The King County Council added $2.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to the $2.1 million youth sport grants funding for a total of $4.6 million. The full list of grant awardees can be found on the King County Youth and Amateur Sports Grants website.

Restrictions on group gatherings, school and park closures, and increased costs during the pandemic amplified racial, economic, and geographic disparities of youth access to sports and recreation.

"For everyone, but especially for youth, outdoor recreation is incredibly important, and fun," said King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. "All of these organizations do an exceptional job making outdoor activities and sports accessible, inclusive, and a regular part of the lives of young people. I am very pleased that this funding will make sure that more youth have more enhanced opportunities to play!"

"South King County kids have never had the same access to sports fields, open spaces or recreation opportunities as kids in other parts of the county," said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. "Working with the Play Equity Coalition, we put money into fixing this disparity. Now all kids will be able to enjoy the benefits of participating on a sports team, kicking a soccer ball in their local park or attending a summer adventure camp."

"Our youth have been hit hard by the pandemic, with a lack of social interaction and a decrease in physical activity that has increased issues of mental health," said King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn. "Organized sports and recreational programs can help our children re-engage socially, increase connections, and boost physical and mental health. We need to get our kids moving again."

More than 100 organizations united, representing schools, parks, public health, and professional sports teams

The King County Play Equity Coalition, representing more than 100 organizations across education, sports and recreation, public health, parks, and the region’s professional sports teams advocated for additional funding to address the growing inequities of youth access to sports and outdoor recreation because of the pandemic.

Physical activity is one of the most important predictors and protectors of overall health and well-being. According to the State of Play: Seattle-King County, pre-pandemic only 19% of kids in King County met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention daily physical activity recommendation of an hour a day meaning many youth do not have the opportunity to experience the mental, emotional, academic, and health benefits of physical activity.   

Building on an existing partnership and shared values, King County Parks and the Coalition co-designed funding priorities and the application and evaluation processes to shift power and resources toward communities of color through a participatory grantmaking process.

“I appreciate the thought and intention that went into all aspects of this process," said Ka’ohe Wong, Program Quality Division Director, Schools Out Washington & King County Play Equity Coalition Leadership Team Member and Fiscal Advisor. "It was awesome to be a part of a process that was supported by King County and developed by a coalition of providers to distribute funds. I was honored to be able to participate and play a role in ensuring young people have access to high-quality physical activities,” 

The goal of a safe re-activation of youth sports and outdoor recreation was established with a priority on centering youth of color and organizations led by people of color with deep partnerships in communities across South King County.

More than 50 community members across South King County representing communities most impacted by racism and systemic inequities, unincorporated areas, experience in youth development, public health, and juvenile justice systems, and small to medium community-based nonprofits served as reviewers, 84% of whom were people of color.

Following community review, a coalition committee that included youth representatives provided another review to make recommendations on investments based on alignment with priorities and the public’s input.


Photos

Relevant links


Quotes

Investing in these 45 community-led projects will create more opportunities for young people - and particularly young people of color - to play, exercise, and connect, and will contribute to the long-term health of our entire region. Success requires significant investments guided by community expertise. Thanks to our strong partnership with the King County Play Equity Coalition, that is exactly what we are delivering.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

For everyone, but especially for youth, outdoor recreation is incredibly important, and fun. All of these organizations do an exceptional job making outdoor activities and sports accessible, inclusive, and a regular part of the lives of young people. I am very pleased that this funding will make sure that more youth have more enhanced opportunities to play!

Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Councilmember

South King County kids have never had the same access to sports fields, open spaces or recreation opportunities as kids in other parts of the county. Working with the Play Equity Coalition, we put money into fixing this disparity. Now all kids will be able to enjoy the benefits of participating on a sports team, kicking a soccer ball in their local park or attending a summer adventure camp.

Dave Upthegrove, King County Councilmember

Our youth have been hit hard by the pandemic, with a lack of social interaction and a decrease in physical activity that has increased issues of mental health. Organized sports and recreational programs can help our children re-engage socially, increase connections, and boost physical and mental health. We need to get our kids moving again.

Reagan Dunn, King County Councilmember

I appreciate the thought and intention that went into all aspects of this process. It was awesome to be a part of a process that was supported by King County and developed by a coalition of providers to distribute funds. I was honored to be able to participate and play a role in ensuring young people have access to high-quality physical activities.

Ka’ohe Wong, Program Quality Division Director, Schools Out Washington & King County Play Equity Coalition Leadership Team Member & Fiscal Advisor

For more information, contact:

Doug Williams, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 206-477-4543