Kathleen was born in 1946 and raised in West Seattle. She has lived around the city but has always loved the West Seattle area where she grew up. Kathleen worked for Boeing, then transitioned to an independent contractor role. After the 2008 recession hit her income dropped by at least 45%. Then she was injured on the job and was unable to continue working. She makes a small income selling items on E-Bay and living off her pension. However, she began to struggle to keep up with her expenses on a fixed income and went into debt.

Kathleen found her way to Centerstone after a referral from a Seattle City Light (SCL) representative. She receives a monthly senior discount from SCL and was looking for help with her PSE gas bill. After doing some research on the web for help she made an appointment at Centerstone, but was told she didn’t qualify for our program due to her income level. Fortunately, Centerstone was still able to help her through a Bridge the Gap grant. Kathleen was beyond thankful!

She mentioned she has always been the one to help others. She has donated to those who were in need in the past and never expected to be in this type of position but it happened so fast. Fearful of getting her heat turned off in freezing conditions she says she was “rejuvenated” and “full of hope” after receiving our help. Kathleen is working on a budget and plans on selling her home to pay back her debt to friends and family, then hopes to transition into senior living or an apartment in the area.

Katherine came to Centerstone during a desperate time in her life. Born and raised in Seattle, she bought her first home in West Seattle. She has worked in healthcare for over 15 years, then opened up her own social work practice. In recent years, she became a full time caregiver for her mother. After she passed away, Katherine then took over care for her disabled brother and his wife. Kathleen struggles with taking care of two family members while working at her practice. Over time, the emotional and financial responsibilities have taken their toll.

Katherine found Centerstone after running low on oil without an extra dollar to her name. She initially didn’t quality for our Energy Assistance program as her income exceeded the federal program guidelines, however being self-employed her income fluctuates greatly from month to month and she couldn’t keep up with her bills. That’s where anonymous Bridge the Gap donors were able to help with a $400 grant. Once she found she would receive assistance, she was incredibly grateful.

Katherine said she hadn’t wanted to use oil to heat her home because of her fear of not being able to pay so her home was extremely cold. She remembers her pets cuddling up to her with their cold paws and it really made her depressed. “This grant made a world of difference for everyone in my home, family and pets included.”

Have a flair for drama? Centerstone is partnering with the Seattle Rep Theater to launch Public Works Seattle, a unique program that offers free acting classes to the public! We’ll be offering workshops, classes, and performances to join together people in our community through the arts. All people are welcome. This is your chance to shine! We hope you can join us every Monday starting November 7th from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. Drop-ins are welcome or contact simone.hamilton@seattlerep.org to register. Visit the Public Works Seattle website for more information.

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.

Disproportionally high rates of unemployment. A low-wage job market with racial discrimination. High cost of living. These barriers to economic security have long existed for Black Washingtonians, but in recent years have taken on new forms. A staggering 21% unemployment rate peaked in 2010 and remains high today, while studies show that Black job applicants are less likely to get hired even with a college degree. The release of a new study, “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”, uncovers this startling research and much more. The study also identifies multiple solutions for improving opportunities for Blacks in our state. Download the Economic Security excerpt from the study, attend an upcoming webinar, 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.

We are thrilled to announce the release of a new study: “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”. About a year ago Centerstone formed a coalition which commissioned this report to research the major ways our social, economic, and political systems in Washington State intertwine to create barriers that impede progress within the Black community. The report identifies multiple solutions for improving opportunities for Blacks in our state. These solutions would not only help to improve the well-being of Blacks as individuals and as communities, but they would also serve to strengthen our state’s economic and civic future. Visit http://www.BlacksWA.org to learn more about the research findings, how this report can help our community, and how you can get involved.