The Port of Seattle announced this week that it will award $226,631 to six community-led organizations with projects that improve the environment in communities around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

This is the South King County Community Impact Fund Environmental Grants Program’s fourth cycle of funding. Since the fund was established, approximately $7.2M has been committed over a four-year period to 44 South King County nonprofits and community-based organizations.

“The South King County Community Impact Fund grantees are making inspiring strides in communities near SEA Airport, they are addressing longstanding service gaps, facilitating connections between residents and job opportunities, and taking on environmental projects,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Hamdi Mohamed. “This fund showcases our commitment to being a better airport neighbor and investing in community economic growth. We’ve seen the profound impact of centering community-based organizations and are dedicated to deepening these partnerships.”

Equity-based partnerships empower organizations to engage local communities around the issue of environmental sustainability, and the selected projects aim to improve the environment and access to green space. Communities in South King County experience disproportionate environmental impacts due to multiple factors, including a long history of inequitable land use practices and economic displacement that pushed marginalized communities farther and farther south.

“The Shyan Selah Foundation is excited to elevate our Connect to Nature Program through the generous support of the South King County Community Impact Fund Environmental Grants Program from the Port of Seattle,” said Candice Richardson, Vice President of The Shyan Selah Foundation and Connect to Nature Program Manager. “With these funds, we are empowered to collaborate with one of our partner schools, Federal Way Public Academy, over the span of three years in the beautification of school grounds. This process involves engaging students in immersive activities that foster environmental education, while imparting invaluable hands-on experience in landscaping and gardening. Beyond the educational realm, our efforts will contribute to the revitalization of this public school space that not only benefits students but also enriches the local community’s connection to these grounds for the foreseeable future.”

Beyond the six organizations receiving funds in this fourth cycle, 15 organizations are continuing work on environmental projects in Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Normandy Park, Seatac, and Tukwila through the program’s multiyear funding option.

Recipients

  • EarthCorps is working with the City of Burien, community partners — including Partners In Employment, Washington Conservation Corps (WCC), afterschool programs, and Green Burien Day — and volunteers to restore and steward Hilltop Park, a 7.4-acre open space in the Boulevard Park neighborhood. This project will take place in Burien and is funded at $60,000.
  • Toros Cycling Club will build on previous funding in Cycle 3 of the grant program for the bicycle skills improvement project area in Burien, specifically in the unused part of the Annex Park parking lot. This area is sometimes targeted for dumping, loitering, and vandalism. Funding will maintain the area through clean-up efforts with community members and improved signage related to park usage. This project will take place in Burien and is funded at $15,395.
  • SR3 — SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research — will engage a large and diverse audience in the protection of the local marine environment and the animals who call it home. This will be accomplished through annual beach clean-up events to remove garbage from the Des Moines Beach as well as through a Marine Mammal Stewards program which will teach local beachgoers about marine wildlife and inspire them to protect our shared coastal environment. This project will take place in Des Moines and is funded at $22,384.
  • Foster High School Environmental Science Program will expand the existing community garden at Foster High School which is managed by the Gardening Club at both the high school and middle school. The garden expansion provides more hands-on learning experiences for students in the topics of environmental science. This project will take place in Tukwila, is fiscally sponsored by Tilth Alliance, and is funded at $60,000.
  • The Shyan Selah Foundation will conduct a Connect to Nature program designed to serve students attending Federal Way Public Schools, one of the most diverse school districts in the state of Washington. The program will provide training in gardening, landscaping, and environmental education with students while cleaning up and restoring parks and open spaces in Federal Way. This project is funded at $57,302.40.
  • Menbere Tsebaot Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church will enhance the environmental sustainability and natural beauty of the local community by planting trees in Adelaide Park through the dedicated efforts of church member volunteers, in close collaboration with the City of Federal Way. This project aims to contribute to the overall well-being of the city by increasing green spaces, improving air quality, and creating a welcoming, serene atmosphere for residents and visitors. This project takes place in Federal Way and is funded at $11,550.

About the South King County Community Impact Fund

The Environmental Grants Program is a cycle of the South King County Community Impact Fund (SKCCIF), a $10 million fund established in 2019. The Port of Seattle established the SKCCIF to develop equity-based partnerships and provide resources and support to historically underserved near-airport communities, addressing noise mitigation, environmental health, and sustainability.

The SKCCIF Environmental Grants Program continues the work of the highly successful Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund, which invested over $1,204,000 in 37 community-led environmental projects since 2017.

In 2019 the Port added the Economic Recovery Program to the fund to assist in pandemic recovery. Economic recovery investments to date total $3 million dollars, invested in local South King County nonprofits and community-based organizations (CBOs). The Port of Seattle Commission will be considering a new authorization of SKCCIF funding for future investments in 2024. Information on future rounds of funding is expected in early 2025.

Multiyear funding

Multiyear funding increases the impact of the Port’s community investments and helps to support sustainable project planning and implementation. For this fourth cycle, the Port continues to offer multiyear awards to applicants for projects spanning one, two, or three years for up to $20,000 per year and up to $60,000 for multiyear funding.

Advocacy wins a 2:1 match rule

Until 2023, state law required that projects meet a 3:1 match requirement to receive funds. For several years the Port made a legislative proposal to reduce the 3:1 match requirement a top priority. During the 2023 Washington State legislative cycle, with sponsorship from Representative Clyde Shavers and Representative Tina Orwall, and advocacy from current Port of Seattle Commission President Hamdi Mohamed, the Port successfully advocated for reducing the local match that nonprofit applicants must provide through the SKCCIF to 2:1. This change reduces the burden for awarded partners and enhances the Port’s ability to contract with community-based organizations, nonprofits, associations, and volunteer groups making public improvements in near-airport communities.

The Port offers several ways to meet this match, including volunteer time, contact hours with attendees of public events, educational hours, lifetime environmental value of trees planted, carbon emissions reduction, in-kind contributions, contributions of project partners, and cash donations.

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

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