Intentional and meaningful community engagement is central to King County’s pro-equity and antiracist agenda. Several programs are intended to be largely community-directed, and many programs will rely on partnerships with community-based organizations for implementation.
Through feedback, community engagement enables government and public decision-making organizations to listen and, in turn, demonstrate the impact of community contribution. Community engagement, then, builds deeper, stronger, and more trusting relationships between public organizations and communities. Specifically, with BIPOC organizations and citizens, this is especially important as the trust between government agencies and our communities has continually eroded over time. With the events transpiring during the pandemic and post-pandemic, relations are still very strained.
King County recognized the need and urgency for more direct investments for BIPOC communities to improve economic opportunity and well-being. King County’s Office of Equity and Social Justice established the Racism as a Public Health Crisis Gathering Collaborative, which equitably directs the use of the Resiliency Fund, a $25 million fund for the pandemic-related economic recovery of communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The Gathering Collaborative is responsible for establishing and leading the decision-making processes for the fund, focusing on community priorities, and advancing economic justice for residents of King County. In the coming months, the committee will engage with community partners to develop the governance structure and will listen and adapt to community feedback. That feedback will be used to inform the approaches to be used by the committee.
The first phase of funding and contracting opportunities will likely be available to the community in September/October 2022. Funding will be equitably allocated through a community-led process and will invest in economic opportunities for BIPOC residents. This will work towards undoing the harms of racism compounded by the pandemic, influencing the County's next budget cycle, and establishing a longer-term vision for King County to become an anti-racist government. The General Fund will finance these CLFR-enabled grants, allowing for more flexibility to engage with the community effectively. The goal of the grant program is to align grantmaking with communities’ priorities for an equitable recovery and strategically position these resources to meet the urgent needs of the communities now.
How is this important or relevant to our community? If you follow BUILD or our partners, you may have recently witnessed this process in real-time. Our partner, Acts on Stage, recently participated in this CLFR funding in an effort to support their programmatic efforts, capital projects, and capacity building. King County residents (age 12 and up) were asked to provide their input on how funds could and would be spent. As a result of this participatory budgeting opportunity, Acts on Stage was awarded funds. But they are one of many and we know more is needed.
What's left for those still needing help?
Funding opportunities are scheduled to reopen this Fall. Interested persons or organizations are encouraged to visit King County COVID-19 Grants and Relief to learn more about the grantmaking categories and opening dates for opportunities.