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Moving Towards Equity

Message from Kathy Nyland, Director of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods:

Earlier this month, a milestone passed in a rather quiet manner. June 2 marked my second year as Director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. I remember thinking to myself in mid-May that the date was approaching but then, suddenly, we were somehow well into June. Though I did not mark the occasion with a special event, it was a reminder to reflect…to pause and take stock.

The last two years have gone by quickly. One reason for that may be that we have been busy. And I say ‘we’ because it takes a team. Looking at what we have accomplished over the last two years, I am so grateful for this team. Some have been with the department for years, others have recently joined; several took a leap of faith, and each one has made an impact.

Here are just a few highlights of our recent accomplishments:


Community Liaison Program

Community Liaisons

Community LiaisonsOur liaisons provide their outreach and engagement services to City departments in 30 different languages.

Last year, staff tripled the number of City projects that the Liaisons supported and more than doubled its recruitment of liaisons to 62.

  • 2015: 11 projects with 4 departments
  • 2016: 30 projects completed (an additional 7 were postponed by other departments to 2017)
  • 2017: 69 projects (to date) – 23 in progress, 10 complete, 36 additional projects on the roster with 15 departments


Community Conversations

Following the best practice of meeting people where they are, this model brings City presentations and resources to different community-based settings and organizations.

In 2016, we had:

  • 12 community conversations in 16 languages
  • 60% of people attending had never interacted with City government through this new partnership model


As of June 2017, we have:

  • Produced 25 Community Conversations reaching 968 people in the following underserved communities: Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian, Amharic, seniors, Tigrinya, Somali, people experiencing homelessness, African American, youth, Cham, Vietnamese, Khmer and Spanish
  • 1,242 people have participated
  • Partnered with 19 community based organizations, subsidized housing units, schools, and faith institutions


Community Grants

Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF)

In 2017, we made significant improvements to our NMF program to make it simpler and easier for applicants. Improvements included:

  • Simplifying the process with a single application and streamlined questions
  • Collapsing opportunities – going from three levels to two
  • Increasing the limits for the Small Sparks Fund from $1,000 to $5,000. The Community Partnership Fund is a new category that funds from $5,001 to $100,000
  • Increasing frequency by providing three opportunities each year to apply for funds up to $100,000
  • Expanding criteria so communities (non-geographic) are eligible


Youth Opportunity Fund


  • Youth Opportunity Fund$75,000 was available
  • 29 applications received, requesting over $415,000
  • Five projects awarded



  • $145,000 is available for projects up to $15,000
  • 48 applications received, requesting more than $643,000


These are just a few of the metrics that show what we have been doing over the last two years. We have been busy making our mission more equitable! These figures are an indication of what inclusive looks like and serve as a reminder that we are on the right path. Here’s to continuing that momentum. Thank you for being part of it.