Advancing Equitable Outreach and Engagement

Message from Kathy Nyland, Director

Mayor Murray recently issued an Executive Order directing the city to approach outreach and engagement in an equitable manner. Putting an equity lens on our approaches is bold and, yes, brave. It shows a commitment to practices that address accessibility and equity.

What does this mean?

  • We often hear that meetings can feel like we are “checking a box.” The Mayor’s action means we can create processes that are more relationship-based and build authentic partnerships.
  • It means that we can create plans that are culturally sensitive, which includes an emphasis on translated materials.
  • It means we broaden access points, identify obstacles and turn them into opportunities.

What else does this mean?

  • It means we have an opportunity to recreate, re-envision and reconcile many lingering issues, including defining the difference between neighborhoods and communities, providing clarity about roles, and creating a system of engagement that builds partnerships with, and between, communities throughout the city of Seattle.
  • It means that we will be working to expand choices and opportunities for community members throughout this city, recognizing a special responsibility to plan for the needs of those who face barriers to participation.
  • It means that we’ll work with city offices and departments on community involvement to ensure that they are effective and efficient through the wise use and management of all resources, including the community’s time.
  • And it means we will expand the toolbox and make some investments in digital engagement.


Seattle is a unique city, and we are fortunate to have so many valuable partners currently at the proverbial table. Those partners play an important role and that role will continue. While we are appreciative of the countless hours our volunteers spend making our city better, we recognize and acknowledge there are barriers to participation. There are communities who cannot be at the table, while there are some communities who don’t even know there is a table. This is where the Department of Neighborhoods comes in.

This is not a power grab. It is a power share. At the heart of this Executive Order is a commitment to advance the effective deployment of equitable and inclusive community engagement strategies across all city departments. This is about making information and opportunities for participation more accessible to communities throughout the city.


“This is not about silencing voices. It’s the exact opposite. It’s about bringing more people into the conversations or at least creating opportunities for people to participate so they can be heard.”

Face-to-face meetings are incredibly important and those are not going away. But not every person can attend a community meeting, and the ability to do so should not determine who gets to participate and who gets to be heard.

We’d love to hear what tools YOU need to be successful and how WE can help you. Share your ideas with us:

  • Send an email to
  • Share your comments below.
  • Contact us at 206-684-0464 or mail us at P.O. Box 94649, Seattle, WA 98124-4649.
  • Join and follow the conversation online using #AdvancingEquitySEA at:

Facebook – @SeattleNeighborhoods
Twitter – @SeaNeighborhood

This is about making things easier and less exhaustive. This is about connecting communities to government and to one another. This is about moving forward.

Kathy Nyland, Director
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

People’s Academy for Community Engagement Now Accepting Applications

People's Academy for Community EngagementSeattle Department of Neighborhoods is accepting applications to the People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE), our civic leadership development program for the next wave of community leaders. The fall session begins September 27 and runs through December 6.

During the 10-week program, 25-30 emerging leaders (18 years and up) will learn hands-on strategies for community building, accessing government, and inclusive engagement from experts in the field. PACE has a strong focus on Seattle’s community and neighborhood organizations and the city’s governmental structure and processes.

Fall sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Miller Community Center. Topics include: Approaches to Leadership, Government 101, Community Organizing, Inclusive Outreach and Public Engagement, Meeting Facilitation, Public Speaking, Conflict Resolution, and Sustaining Involvement.

Tuition for the 10-week program is $100. Tuition assistance is available. To apply, visit The application deadline is Friday, August 12 at 5:00 p.m.

Given the popularity of the program, PACE will be offered three times a year: winter, spring and fall. The winter session will begin in January of 2017. For more information, visit our webpage and for questions, email

City of Seattle Seeks Contractors for Outreach Work to Underrepresented Communities

POEL working with members of the public at a Delridge Projects WorkshopSeattle Department of Neighborhoods is seeking individuals to do part-time outreach work to underrepresented communities in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Known as Public Outreach and Engagement Liaisons (POELs), these contractors must be connected to their respective cultures, fluent in the languages, and bi-cultural and bi-lingual. The main tasks of a POEL are to provide:

  • Quality translations.
  • Fair and equitable facilitation (in native language) to culturally specific community groups.
  • Simultaneous interpretation.
  • Feedback and expertise on cultural concerns and barriers.
  • Planning and execution of community workshops and events that parallel larger City-hosted meetings.

POELs are compensated independent contractors. The positions are generally flexible with any type of schedule and include either daytime or evening hours as well as some weekends. The applicants must have extensive experience organizing and facilitating community meetings, and must be fluent and able to interpret and translate in at least one other language. The languages we are presently seeking include Vietnamese, Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Spanish, Korean, and Somali. The applicants must live or work in the following neighborhoods:

  • North End: Especially Lake City and Northgate
  • University District
  • West Seattle

If interested, please send a resume or a short biography, plus two references to or:

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
POEL Program
P.O. Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124.

For more information about the POEL program, please visit our website.

See below for language translations of the original press release:


Deadline Approaches for Matching Funds to Support your Neighborhood Project

Othello+Intl+music+nwlrSeptember 2 workshop for interested applicants
Application deadline is October 5

If your group needs funds to do a neighborhood project, our Neighborhood Matching Fund may be able to help. However, you’ll need to be quick because the application deadline for the Small and Simple Projects Fund is Monday, October 5 at 5:00 p.m. This fund provides awards of up to $25,000 to for community-building projects that are matched by community contributions.

To learn about the Small and Simple Projects Fund, visit This is the last opportunity in 2015 to apply to this fund.

The final workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at University Heights Community Center (Room 209), 5031 University Way NE. The workshop provides an overview of the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the qualities of a good project, and the application process and requirements. To RSVP, go online at or call  206-233-0093. The workshop is open to all.

Our Neighborhood Matching Fund staff is available to advise groups on ways to develop successful applications and projects. You are strongly encouraged to call 206.233.0093 or email to discuss your project idea with one of our project managers.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) Program awards matching funds for projects initiated, planned, and implemented by community members. Its goal is to build stronger and healthier neighborhoods through community involvement and engagement. Every award is matched by a neighborhood’s contribution of volunteer labor, donated materials, in-kind professional services, or cash.

“Growing Organic Communities” at the Lake City Farmers Market September 13

Growing Organic Communities is hosting an  event during the Lake City Farmer’s Market on Thursday, September 13 to reach out and engage community members and share information on what is happening in the area, as well as find out more about what the community is interested in. The focus is to have a fun atmosphere with food and games, as well as market bucks to hand out to shoppers who stop by to share their ideas. The project was awarded $450 from the Neighborhood Matching Fund Small Sparks program.

Kudos to P-Patch gardeners at the Jackson Park P-Patch Community Garden!

This letter was sent to the Jackson Park P-Patch Community Garden P-Patchers thanking them for embracing and engaging with fellow gardeners with intellectual disabilities. It’s a great example of how community gardens are about neighbors connecting and engaging with each other to build community.

A thank-you to all of the gardeners at the Jackson Park P-Patch from raised bed number1 (nearest the shed). As many of you may know, raised bed #1 is tended by L. Turner Associates staff members and the older adults with intellectual disabilities we serve. We would like to thank all of the gardeners for making us feel at home at the garden. The older adults who have life-long disabilities love our raised bed and the food it produces. With 1-1 help from our staff these older adults enjoy planting, watering, and eating the fruit and veggies we grow. The most fun we have is just enjoying the gardens, watching others garden, and every time a gardener stops to say “hi,” waves hello, or gives us a smile, it makes our day. You see, our goal is to help people with intellectual disabilities participate in the community in which they live. We use gardening as a way to integrate our program participants into the life of their neighborhood. So, your neighbors thank all of the Jackson Park P-Patch gardeners for being such good neighbors.

Lisa Turner
L.Turner Associates, Inc.


Neighborhood Matching Fund supports neighbors preparing for disaster

On July 14, Lake City residents hosted an amazingly successful “Safety Saturday Festival” for the diverse population of residents and businesses on 33rd Avenue NE, 125th to 127th. Several city departments were on hand to help with the preparedness effort, including Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Emergency Management, Seattle Public Library, and Seattle Police Department, along with the Seattle Neighborhood Group and the Lake City Community Council.  Residents learned how to prepare and respond before, during, and after a disaster. This project has been supported by the Small Sparks Fund.  The organizers are already excited about trying to develop an emergency preparedness HUB as a next step, and hope to apply for another Neighborhood Matching Fund. Congratulations to Ellie Rhoads and the Small Sparks steering committee!

Today’s hours for Neighborhood Service Centers

Here is a list of Neighborhood Service Centers that serve as Payment and Information Service sites and today’s hours of operation due to weather conditions:

Lake City: Open – 9:00-5:00
Closed for lunch 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Ballard: Open – 9:00-5:00
Open for lunch

University: Closed

Central: Open – 9:00-5:00
Closed for lunch 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Southeast: Open – 9:00 – 5:00
Closed for lunch 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Delridge: Open until 3:30 p.m.

West Seattle: Closed