Building an Equitable Future—Together.
In King County, poverty, homelessness, and limited educational opportunities impact people differently. Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color bear a disproportionate burden, preventing them from accessing traditional pathways to wealth and economic security. But what if these communities led the way in solving these problems?
To realize United Way of King County’s vision of an equitable and just community where everyone thrives, we must recognize where we may have harmed or have caused harm—either through action or inaction. That’s why we’re doing things differently: Our community partnerships work to combat structural and institutional racism and reduce inequities so we can build that equitable future—together. We empower neighborhood-based organizations, putting the power in their hands, to do just that.
Real People. Real Stories.
What is Participatory Grantmaking?
This is an approach that cedes decision-making power for funding to the communities impacted by the funding decisions. It’s a paradigm shift in how we work and honors the fact that organizations are agents of change in their communities, not just beneficiaries of grants. Therefore, they are best suited to make funding decisions. By increasing the number and diversity of decision-makers, it will strengthen the decisions and allow more funding to those most able to create long-lasting change.
Communities know best what issues they face and how to address them. When we partner with, and cede power, to communities we support, we reduce barriers. The community-based funding approach is both innovative and proven—and creates new approaches by addressing historic inequities. This is how the new model works:
United Way of King County raises funds through individual donors, corporate sponsors, government agencies, grants, and other contributors.
We partner, work with, and cede power to communities to explore new, equitable ways of funding programs and supporting them.
Participatory grantmaking lets the community decide how to allocate and distribute funds to address challenges they’re facing.
Changing Power Dynamics
Changing Power Dynamics
The approach is an intentional way of combating potential colonialist, white supremacy-rooted elements of philanthropy and changing power dynamics between the organizations who distribute funds and those who receive them.
Black leaders know their communities best. We bring a coalition of 14 Black-led organizations together to determine how our funding will be directed to support the equitable recovery and long-term viability of King County’s Black community.
Despite being among the communities with the greatest basic needs, only 0.23% of philanthropic funds are awarded to Native-led nonprofits. This fund launched by United Way in 2020, hands decision-making power back to King County’s Indigenous communities through 12-member Seattle Urban Native nonprofits.
We believe communities of color are best suited to support youth of color in all aspects of life— including education. The 14 organizations in the Racial Equity Coalition (REC) create communities of belonging for youth of color, offering after-school programs that celebrate their cultural identities and equip them with the tools to stay engaged in school.
Thanks to Our Supporters: