Leaders set up Racial Equity and Empowerment Fund

A diverse representation of community leaders is launching a new focus area of the Unity in the Community Kitsap COVID-19 Response Fund called the Kitsap Racial Equity and Empowerment Fund.

The steering committee is working in with Kitsap Community Foundation and United Way of Kitsap County.

The group’s news release says there is an ongoing need to address systemic inequities, which disproportionately impact Black and other marginalized communities. Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to address how those inequities are amplified by COVID-19, with increased disproportionate adverse impacts on the Black community.

“This fund is important because far too often funding streams fail to meet the community where they are; the system is very top-down instead of inclusive and equitable,” committee member Cory Walster said.

The fund will help to end systemic racism in the community by making grants to support culturally relevant programs, services and activities in Kitsap that:

1) Are aimed at lessening the inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis in or for communities of color, with an emphasis on the needs of the Black community, and

2) Have leadership or boards who are reflective of and accountable to communities of color, in particular the Black community.

Grants will be made to grassroot efforts of individuals, coalitions and organizations.

“Too often those impacted by systemic inequity is determined without the benefit of their vision, leadership or even input,” committee member Airen Lydick says in the release, adding, the fund, “is an opportunity to do things differently. Let’s make it more engaging, more collaborative, and simpler to fund grassroots efforts for community care, systemic equity and liberation.”

Donations will be matched dollar for dollar by the state-wide campaign “All In WA” until their matching pool is depleted. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has put up $25 million to match donations. And the first $50,000 donated to the Kitsap Racial Equity and Empowerment Fund also will be matched by a gift from another contributor — so your donation may be tripled.

Donate online at kitsapcovid19response.org/equitable-community-needs or mail a check payable to Kitsap Racial Equity and Empowerment Fund to Kitsap Community Foundation, P.O. Box 3670, Silverdale, WA 98383. All of the donations go to the fund.