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$5.5 million available from Equitable Development Initiative fund

Community-based organizations working in Seattle on anti-displacement strategies and economic development opportunities are encouraged to apply to the City of Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) fund by March 5. In this round of funding, a total of $5.5 million will be available for capacity building, property acquisition, and capital expenses for community-based projects in high displacement risk neighborhoods.

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 was championed by community organizations concerned about displacement pressures and historical lack of investment that has occurred in communities of color in Seattle.

“We are looking forward to working with projects that decrease the risk of displacement and increase access to opportunity,” said Sam Assefa, OPCD Director. “Our aim is to improve racial equity and create a city in which everyone can thrive regardless of race or means. We will support community projects that are doing valuable work to address systemic racism and the institutional barriers that exist for communities of color.”

OPCD will evaluate applications based on their ability to positively impact several equity drivers, including:

  • Promoting economic opportunity through education and 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 will demonstrate 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.

OPCD, Office of Economic Development, Office of Housing , Department of Neighborhoods, and other City departments coordinate the administration of the EDI fund. An interim advisory board helps guide the EDI and provides feedback on funding decisions.

EDI funds, which may be grants or loans, 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.

The current funding round is making available $5.5 million for up to seven qualifying organizations.  Approximately $1 million will be awarded to support capacity-building efforts over a two-year period and $4.5 million will be available to projects for predevelopment, property acquisition, and capital expenses.

OPCD strongly encourages pre-application meetings and will accept requests for meetings until Feb. 14, 2018. Applications are due March 5, 2018. Final contracts with successful applicants are expected to be completed by June 2018.

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. Seattle’s new program to tax short-term rentals will provide another $5 million in ongoing annual revenues beginning in 2019.