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.

Lots of Joy and Creativity at the 13th Annual U District Swag Party

DON banner at Swag EventMore than 200 people participated in one of the University District’s favorite traditions, the U District Swag Event. Held at the U District Farmers Market, neighbors gathered greens, pine cones, ribbon and wire and let their creativity run wild!  Plus, for the first time, neighbors made enough swags for the Food Bank to deliver a swag with every bag they take to home-bound seniors (61 swags!!!).  Seattle Public Utilities crews hauled greens from the Cedar River watershed and the U District Farmers Market, the U District Partnership, the U District BIA, University Heights, Display and Costume Design, local merchants, and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods contributed to the event.  University Swag Event

Treats from Rockridge Orchards, Mighty O and Starbucks helped to fuel the creativity.  Guests from ROOTS (young adult shelter) again worked the event and welcomed the opportunity to be part of this community tradition (plus, make a little money). Be sure to put this event on your calendar for next December and be a part of the fun, joy, and spirit of the season.  To view more photos from the event click here.

North Ave Mural Project now on Video

The Sanctuary Art Center was awarded $13,360 from the Small and Simple Projects Fund for creation of the North Ave Mural on the wall of J’s Market on the SW corner of University Way and 50th Street NE.   One of the primary goals of the mural was to beautify and activate an area that has been a U-District crime hotspot.  The group did a call to artists and based on community input, hired Heidi Barnett to design and paint the mural, with the help of volunteers and youth from Sanctuary Art Center.  The City contribution was matched by a community contribution of $13,480 consisting of volunteer labor, cash, and donated services.  The mural represents a partnership between the City, Urban Artworks, the U-District Livability Partnership, local business owners, and Sanctuary Art Center.

Check out the video.


Unveiling of the North Avenue Mural this Saturday

mural cropJoin Mayor McGinn, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, the North Ave Mural Steering Committee, and fellow U-District neighbors to welcome the North Ave Mural to the neighborhood!  Heidi Barnett, the artist, with support from Sanctuary Art Center artists, Urban Artworks, and many community volunteers has been working day and night to bring this mural to life and in turn bring life to the corner of 50th St. and the Ave on the north wall of J’s Market (in the Jack in the Box parking lot).  

The North Ave Mural project was made possible through a $13,360 award from our Neighborhood Matching Fund Small and Simple Projects Fund. The Steering Committee is comprised of business owners, community members, nonprofit organizations, students and residents of the University District.  This mural is a response to the CPTED (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design) recommendations made by the Seattle Police Department.  The North AVE Mural Project is aligned with the Strategic Plan developed by the University District Livability Partnership (UDLP), and came through recommendations from the Clean and Safe Committee of the UDLP. UDLP is a four-year strategic initiative to encourage investment for a vibrant, walkable University District Community.

Landmarks Preservation Board to consider landmark nomination for the Neptune Theater

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will consider landmark nomination for the Neptune Building and Theater located at 1301-1313 NE 45th In the University District. The meeting will be on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. in the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor, in Room 4060.

The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments. Written comments should be received by the Landmarks Preservation Board by 5:00 p.m. on October 1 at the following address: Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board, Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods, P.O. Box 94649, Seattle WA, 98124-4649; or emailed to Kate Krafft (

Copies of the landmark nomination are available for public review at the University Branch Library, 5009 Roosevelt way NE (206-684-4063) and Seattle Department of Neighborhoods office at the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Ave, Suite 1700 (206-684-0228). The nomination is also posted on the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods website, under the heading of “Current Nominations.”

The Landmarks Preservation Board is coordinated by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Historic Preservation Program. The Historic Preservation Program handles the identification and protection of more than 450 historic structures, site, objects, and vessels, as well as eight historic districts throughout Seattle. For more information, contact 206.684.0464.