It’s that time of year again! On May 3, you can GiveBIG to Centerstone and your donation will be generously stretched by The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors. By Giving BIG to Centerstone, you are funding innovative projects we are leading such as:

  • African American Financial Capability Initiative, a coalition of seven African-American-led groups collaborating to strengthen asset-building services, sharpen policy advocacy strategies, and grow leadership capacity to benefit Blacks in Washington.
  • Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan helps to guide commercial development within the Central Area district by retaining the spirit and culture of the Central District by gathering community input on commercial revitalization efforts.
  • Yesler Community Collaborative, which brings together people and resources to support equitable and sustainable community development in Yesler Terrace and in surrounding areas

At Centerstone, we’re not satisfied with just fixing the issues in our community today. We’re focused on driving innovation and change in our community for tomorrow and beyond. Schedule your May 3 GiveBIG donation today.

We would like to welcome our 3 newest Board members, Michael Majeed with Skyway Solutions, Elisa Waidelich with World Vision, and Terry Easter-Hairston with Skyline Properties. Thanks for bringing your incredible experience, knowledge and skills to help enhance our capabilities and advance our mission!

Centerstone, in partnership with the Central Area Collaborative, is helping to guide commercial development within the Central Area district. Our goal is to retain the spirit and culture of the Central District by gathering community input on commercial revitalization efforts. The Central Area Collaborative is a group of 8 organizations working to align neighborhood development with community priorities. The project was recently funded by the City of Seattle and includes strategies to help establish and grow small businesses in the area as well as increase job training and social services for special populations in the Central Area.

Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan – Overview

GOAL I:            Align ongoing commercial development in the Central Area with community input.

Strategy 1:          Increase community awareness of opportunities to engage and influence development and land use projects.

  • Create or highlight online tools that help people understand projects happening in the neighborhood.
  • Identify new ways in which people can participate in the land use and design review process.
  • Create Urban Design Framework focused on the business nodes within the Central Area.

Strategy 2:          Make commercial development accountable to community priorities.

  • Convene community residents and stakeholders to identify shared values on economic development.
  • Coordinate with the City to communicate community priorities to City departments (i.e. DPD, DON, OED, etc.).
  • Facilitate a clear path of for small, large, local and national developers to engage with community organizations.
  • Provide incentives for developers to include community priorities in development plans.

Strategy 3:          Identify collaborative leaders willing to serve as liaisons to commercial developers

  • Support dynamic solutions designed to meet the complex and diverse needs of collaborative members.
  • Engage leaders from across diverse interests and expertise to represent the collaborative.
  • Build strong and transparent relationships with commercial developers invested in the Central Area.

GOAL II:           Establish, retain and grow independent, micro, and small businesses in the Central Area.

Strategy 1:          Develop a coordinated marketing strategy for small businesses in the Central Area.

  • Create a comprehensive Central Area brand/identity.
  • Identify replicable, neighborhood collaborative marketing models.
  • Provide marketing support to 10 arts and culturally focused businesses each month.
  • Implement 2-3 unique marketing initiatives within the next two years.

Strategy 2:          Offer technical and professional development support to Central Area business owners.

  • Develop a micro business development strategy.
  • Develop a technical support series for new small business owners.
  • Develop a technical support series for established, small business owners.
  • Increase professional development support for new and established business owners.

Strategy 3:          Provide the financial and technical support needed to make Black business ownership more affordable and accessible in the Central Area.

  • Create and/or adopt a theory of change or logic model focused on creating an equitable and level economic playing field.
  • Secure funds to support a community-based, grant-making program for entrepreneurs.
  • Facilitate strategic relationships with local banks to increase small business loan options.
  • Work with City to develop incentive plans that support entrepreneurs and micro and small businesses.

GOAL III:          Increase job training and social services for special populations living and working in the Central Area.

Strategy 1:          Partner with schools, education institutions, and city departments to identify job training and program needs for special populations.

  • Identify special populations and the social services needed to support job-training effort (e.g. childcare, transportation, low-income housing).
  • Convene service organizations to review current programming and identify gaps in support services.
  • Gather data from the City of Seattle, King County and Seattle Public Schools on special populations living in the Central Area.
  • Create a community-based foundation focused jobs, education, and financial literacy.

Strategy 2:          Identify and partner with local organizations, businesses and financial institutions to support programs and align job training with available and emerging employment opportunities.

  • Engage institutions with established training programs and internship opportunities.
  • Identify opportunities to build better connections to existing programs.
  • Increase businesses owners’ awareness of the pool of trained community members.

GOAL IV:         Develop a thriving, high quality, and educational food ecosystem reflective of the African diaspora.

Strategy 1:          Create the right food production and retail mix for the community.

  • Establish a Central Area Farmer’s Market.
  • Negotiate with the City to secure long-term use of spaces and properties supportive of the community’s food interests (e.g., planting strips, right-of-ways, schools, firehouses, etc.).

Strategy 2:          Practice group economics and investment for spaces and marketing.

  • Create an entity that allows restaurant owners to work as a community in support of one another.
  • Identify a collective economic model supportive of pooling money, securing resources, sharing ideas, and strategic purchasing power.
  • Develop pipeline for small business creation through a centralized innovation HUB.
  • Secure resources to support business creation programs (e.g. Fare Start, SUI).

GOAL V:          Establish the Central Area as an African American arts and cultural center.

Strategy 1:          Partner with the Office of Arts & Culture to establish the Central Area as a cultural arts district.

  • Establish an accessible and inviting “hub” of art facilities within the Central Area.
  • Promote the participation and financial support of artists, arts venues, and cultural events.

Strategy 2:          Develop an ecosystem to support arts and culture based businesses.

  • Identify and prioritize the desired elements of an arts and culture ecosystem.
  • Review zoning codes related to arts and cultural facility development.
  • Provide affordable spaces to support the creation and presentation all forms of arts and culture.

Tax season is just around the corner! If you need advice on how to file your taxes, please stop by Centerstone to take advantage of our free Tax Preparation services now through April. You can meet with our specialist on Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00 – 5:00 pm or call (206) 812-4940 to make an appointment. We can help you file electronically using our tax preparation software or answer questions you may have. For more complex tax returns, we can help prep your taxes in coordination with a United Way certified tax specialist.

Centerstone’s thought leadership in researching trends and data is a growing area of expertise and a strategic way to be accountable to the community’s needs. Our Research and Insights Program focuses on the core issues facing those struggling in our community to identify solutions that positively impact change. The program develops and commissions studies that leverage our capabilities with grassroots-level data gathering and story-telling to broaden awareness on today’s critical issues and trends.

 

Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians Study

In collaboration with several organizations, Centerstone recently released a new study: “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”. Racism and inequality remain a looming problem in Washington State. It casts a shadow over the lives of many Blacks, leading to a lack of economic security, poor health, and high levels of stress. This new study seeks to encourage citizens and leaders alike to address these issues head-on, engage in conversations focused on solutions, and develop policies and laws to help Blacks gain equal footing with other races and ethnicities.

The comprehensive report outlines some of the major ways our social, economic, and political systems in Washington State intertwine to create barriers to opportunity that impede progress within the Black community. The coalition releasing this report is composed of Centerstone, the Washington Commission on African American Affairs, and the African American Leadership Forum – Seattle.

 

Here are the 10 most important ways that the study can improve life for Blacks:

  • Enable economic policies to ensure that all families in Washington state can meet their basic needs
  • Increase the share of Black people with access to good jobs
  • Provide adequate access to an education that will allow Blacks to compete for the jobs of today and the future
  • Expand high quality early learning opportunities for Black children and families
  • Provide resources do Black students need to stay in school and excel
  • Improve state policies and programs to better meet the needs of Black youth to keep them out of the criminal justice system
  • Create community-driven strategies to create a more just and equitable political system
  • Develop strategies for Black families to use to remain healthy in challenging environments
  • Promote policies so that everyone in the Black community has adequate access to health insurance and care
  • Identify the most significant barriers to economic opportunity for Black Washingtonians today

This report is the first phase of a longer effort to elevate and amplify the voices of Black Washingtonians in the decision-making processes that influence their everyday lives. The analysis focuses on five key areas of well-being – economic security, education, health, criminal justice, and civic engagement – to highlight conditions in the Black community and contribute to a robust conversation about what an equitable future in Washington State looks like.

 

How You Can Help

Start the conversation by downloading the full report, learning about the issues, and raising your voice in the community. Or download the report by topic section:

Make a donation to help us continue our work

Spread the word by promoting this study within your network (see social media sharing links below).

Share the press release with your community

Together, as citizens and leaders, we can start the conversation.

Good health is essential to quality of life. Living in a safe home, having enough food to eat, stable employment, attending good schools, and living in neighborhoods where people trust one another and feel protected are all essential to a healthy life. Lack of economic and educational opportunities have made it harder for Black people to find stable, living-wage employment that allows families to meet basic needs like housing and food, as well as invest in their own future or that of their children. The mental stress of such instability can reach levels so toxic that it can take a toll on every aspect of child and family health. In Washington State, 60% of Black children are living in families with economic hardship – the most common adverse experience children face — compared to the state average of 39%. The release of a new study, “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”, uncovers this troubling research and much more. The study also identifies multiple solutions for improving opportunities for Blacks in our state. Download the Health excerpt from the study, and learn how you can help us start the conversation to strengthen our state’s economic and civic future by visiting http://www.BlacksWA.org.

What comes to mind when you think of criminal justice? For Blacks, two words arise: Disparity and mistrust. The criminal justice system is responsible for protecting neighborhoods and building trust, but there is perhaps no other institution more devastating to Black children, families, and communities today. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 Black men and 1 in 18 Black women in the U.S. will spend some time in prison, removing a critical mass of workers, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and voters from the Black community. In Washington State, the 18% share of Black people in prison is four times higher than their share in the state population. The release of a new study, “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”, uncovers this staggering research and much more. The study also identifies multiple solutions for improving opportunities for Blacks in our state. Download the Criminal Justice excerpt from the study, and learn how you can help us start the conversation to strengthen our state’s economic and civic future by visiting http://www.BlacksWA.org.

A lack of teacher diversity. Inadequate funding for K-12. The rising cost of college tuition. How can education be the great equalizer in the face of these obstacles? Black Washingtonians, specifically Black students, are lagging behind and not reaching their full potential. For example, only 45% of Black children are enrolled in preschool compared to 53% of their peers. The release of a new study, “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”, uncovers this alarming research and much more. The study also identifies multiple solutions for improving opportunities for Blacks in our state. Download the Education excerpt from the study, and learn how you can help us start the conversation to strengthen our state’s economic and civic future by visiting http://www.BlacksWA.org.