Equity, Racial and Social Justice
OESJ COVID7 Supplemental Budget
King County continues to hear from Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color communities (BIPOC) on the need for the county to engage more in meaningful power-sharing, accountability, and co-creation of systemic changes that result in equitable outcomes for BIPOC communities, and holding institutions, including the county, accountable to those changes.
We recognize the need and urgency for more direct investments for BIPOC communities to improve economic opportunity and wellbeing. The King County Council passed Executive Constantine’s COVID-7 emergency supplemental budget in May 2021, which included many community funding opportunities. The processes described below are reflective of community feedback for us to be more bold, creative, and to respond with greater urgency and clarity to address the intersecting crises of racism and COVID-19.
Racism Is A Public Health Crisis - $25 Million Economic Justice Fund
In 2022, the Racism Is A Public Health Crisis Initiative will embark on a community-led process, called the Gathering Collaborative, to equitably allocate $25 million to start to undo the harms of racism compounded by the pandemic, influence the county's 2023-24 budget cycle to prioritize and reflect anti-racism and pro-equity investments, and form a multi-generational vision for King County to become an anti-racist government. Visit the Racism Is A Public Health Crisis Initiative website for more information.
Information on the additional OESJ COVID-7 Funding for Direct Investments in Communities
The Office of Equity and Social Justice (OESJ) is working closely with the Budget Office to launch multiple funding and contracting opportunities available to community. These direct investments are funded through federal dollars, or the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CLFR), a part of the American Rescue Plan.
Our goal to align grantmaking with communities’ priorities for an equitable recovery and strategically position these resources to meet the urgent needs of our communities resulted in the following grants/contracts:
Digital Equity Grants: King County is providing $2 million in grants to organizations that promote digital equity and provide services to communities that face barriers to accessing digital services such as tech devices, internet connection and digital literacy, and have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the 29 local groups, agencies and organizations that received grant funding.
Coalition Against Hate and Bias: King County is providing $1.5 million in grants to current and new members of the Coalition Against Hate and Bias. In response to the dramatic rise in anti-Asian bias and hate incidents, exacerbated by COVID-19, King County convened the Coalition Against Hate and Bias as a community-led initiative. The Coalition’s goal is to collect reliable data and promote community-based safety outside of law enforcement agencies, thereby strengthening and connecting communities who experience racist and bigoted treatment and all forms of oppression. The intent of this funding is to increase the Coalition’s opportunity to expand the idea that targeted outreach based on community relationships is much more effective than traditional law enforcement or anonymous reporting. To learn more about the Coalition’s work, visit their website.
Strategic Communications Campaign: King County allocated $1.75 million to equitably increase awareness of and access to its Revive and Thrive programs, grants, contracts, and support services available. The program will contract with community-based media outlets and organizations to conceptualize, plan and implement a mix-media campaign intended to reach communities most impacted by COVID-19 and racism. The program will also create a feedback loop between King County and residents so the county can better understand how its COVID-19 Relief spending efforts are impacting the lives of communities, families and individuals. Grant awardees will be published on the Strategic Communications Campaign website once contracts are finalized.
Technical Assistance and Capacity Building: Since our grantmaking dollars are from CLFR, they come with numerous federal compliance requirements. We want to minimize the potential impacts of those requirements on applicants and be able to effectively support them through the grantmaking process. Technical assistance and capacity-building resources are available to nonprofits and community-based organizations awarded federal COVID-19 grants and contracts or that will be applying for federal COVID-19 funding. Learn more about our Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Program.
King County makes historic investment to tackle Racism as a Public Health Crisis with $25 million in grants to more than 120 small businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations
King County Executive Dow Constantine and fellow co-chairs of the Gathering Collaborative, Dr. Ben Danielson and Abigail Echo-Hawk, announced $25 million in grants awarded to 123 nonprofits, community organizations, and small businesses to advance the work of addressing racism as a public health crisis in the region.
Since March 2022, King County and the co-chairs have met weekly with the Gathering Collaborative, a group of diverse and trusted community members, to co-create the grant program. The Collaborative is the result of reimagining a different grants process in partnership with Black and Indigenous communities, and to equitably distribute grant funding to advance economic and racial justice in communities.
The Gathering Collaborative and King County received overwhelming interest in the grant opportunity, with nearly 800 applications requesting over $230 million – more than nine times the total funding available. Community reviewers dedicated their time over the past several months to thoroughly evaluate, discuss, and score each applicant. After an extensive review process, the Gathering Collaborative recommended funding a total of 123 organizations.
“King County is honored to partner with organizations and businesses that are and have been developing solutions to repair the harms of racism, bringing healing and well-being to Black and Indigenous communities,” said Executive Constantine, co-chair of the Racism is a Public Health Crisis effort. “King County is actively confronting the reality of racism and acknowledging its historic and present-day impacts on marginalized communities. This $25 million investment will help to combat the public health crisis that racism truly presents in our communities while forging a path toward a more equitable and just future for all people."
Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Services Available for Nonprofits
King County and our partners can provide technical assistance and capacity building to community-based organizations and nonprofits receiving federal COVID-19 funding. King County has allocated millions of dollars in grants and contracts through its federal COVID funding and continues to do so. Not every community-based organization that is eligible for these grants has the infrastructure to successfully apply for funding, or the experience and capacity to manage these funds and comply with reporting requirements. King County and the Office of Equity and Social Justice are committed to investing in capacity building and infrastructure for community-based organizations awarded these federal COVID-19 grants and contracts.
Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan Highlights
King County is updating and expanding the 2016-2022 Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan to refresh our equity, racial, and social justice vision and focus.
Initially published in 2016, the current ESJ Strategic Plan has positively impacted the direction of the County's decision-making, policies, operations, services, community outreach, and workplace culture. The update will incorporate approaches needed to expedite progress in King County's pro-equity/anti-racist priority. We will bring together and meaningfully engage community-based organizations, community members, county departments, leaders, employees, and other partners.
The Highlights from the 2016-2022 Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan provide glimpses into some of the work within King County that advances the vision and focus developed in the current plan. The Highlights is an online, interactive approach to highlighting some of the County’s significant ESJ initiatives, efforts and investments. Watch the video to learn more:
King County is investing in community engagement and co-creation
King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice is investing in enhancing the County's approach to partnerships with communities. We value improving trust, and want to ensure fair and accessible community-led engagement. Learn more about the County's strategies in co-creation, including compensation for community members who serve on advisory groups, cultural liaisons, and our new Community Engagers Team.