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2022 Fall Microgrant Recipients

By VerityCU December 12, 2022 Community

Verity Credit Union's Microgrant Program is designed to provide unrestricted monetary support for organizations whose work benefits historically underserved communities within Washington State.

We are thrilled to be announcing the Fall 2022 recipients!

Fresh Start Professional Services

Fresh Start Professional Services is a collective of BIPOC community members who provide supportive services to BIPOC youth and adults in transition – from homelessness, foster care, the justice system, and treatment facilities. 

Their staff brings over 30 years of combined professional and lived experience of being impacted by our current systems of social services, including the Department of Social and Health Services, the criminal / legal justice system, and the education system. They are made up of community mentors, educators, life coaches, athletic coaches, workforce development advisors, reentry coaches, and many more.

“Fresh Start staff and volunteer work is deeply rooted and focused on promoting education and vocational training as a ladder to success,” writes Franklyn Smith, Co-Founder. “By bringing together community members of lived and professional experiences to help system-impacted people transitioning back into the community, we are able to create an atmosphere of creditability toward connecting with our target population.”

Fresh Start Professional Services also works closely with local authorities toward the creation of diversion programming. Their approach revolves around restorative justice, intentionally designed to divert community members away from the criminal justice system and toward opportunities which strengthen communities and partnerships.

The Verity Microgrant will go toward supporting Fresh Start’s general programming – a 16 hour curriculum covering topics such as goal planning and effective communication skills, plus introduction classes to professional fields like community base digital equity and broadband installation, community advocacy, leadership, and entrepreneurialism.

 

Project Be Free

Project Be Free (PBF) was founded in 2020 by a group who recognized that the systems in place to address domestic violence were being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an increase in racial disparities among those receiving aid. The organization was created with the mission of supplying additional aid to survivors of domestic violence, providing crisis response support and holistic methods for families to be able to live healthier norms. PBF’s immediate response services and therapy methods work toward breaking the cycles of intergenerational trauma caused or exacerbated by domestic violence.

Project Be Free works in partnership with Seattle Community Officers and Renton Police in their advocacy work, intentionally focusing efforts on increased access for People of Color and people from low-income backgrounds.

The Verity Microgrant will support their ongoing programming, which includes general crisis response, domestic violence advocacy, family support groups, doula-led mother’s support groups, a shared youth mentorship program, and a yearly Survivor Wellness Symposium.

 

Sduhubs Cultural and Family Services

The Snohomish are among several Western Washington tribes who have not received federal acknowledgement. As a result, the Snohomish Tribe does not receive nearly the same level of federal support as other Tribes in terms of social welfare, education, health, and hunting/fishing commerce.

Sduhubs Cultural and Family Services (SCFS) was founded to help fill these gaps, providing expertise and support to over 1600 members of the Snohomish Tribe of Indians, their families, and other community members. "Sduhubs" comes from "Sduhubš," (s-DOH-hohbsh), which is the Lushootseed word for the Snohomish Tribe.

Alongside their ongoing battle for federal recognition, SCFS facilitates fundraising, cultural and social services, food distribution to low-income families, and modeling traditional practices for youths in the Tribe. Recently, Sduhubs Cultural and Family Services collaborated among other local Tribes to coordinate a canoe landing and cultural exchange on indigenous-owned land on South Whidbey Island.

The Verity Microgrant will go toward their future plans for cultural exchange and community support throughout Snohomish traditional territories.

 

South Tacoma Economic Green Zone

The South Tacoma Economic Green Zone (STEGZ) is a group dedicated to the creation of a new land-use code for clean energy and green businesses in South Tacoma.

South Tacoma is currently designated as an “economic opportunity zone,” intended to encourage businesses to move to the area and thus create local economic growth. In practice however, this heavy-industrial zoning is taking a major toll on neighborhood. Learn more about Economic Opportunity Zones, here.

According to the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, South Tacoma has the lowest life expectancy, highest rates of heart disease and mental health, and highest rates of lung cancer in Pierce County. At the same time, it is also among the fastest growing population areas in the state, with more and more rental housing being built alongside industrial zones without any open green space.

An increased heavy-industrial presence is also contributing negatively to the South Tacoma Aquifer. The aquifer provides up to 40% of Tacoma’s back-up water supply, a figure projected to increase to 70% by 2050 due to global warming and the resulting lack of glacial runoff. Under current zoning laws, the aquifer is extremely vulnerable to ground water contamination.

STEGZ aims to correct the outdated zoning policies that led to the current state of South Tacoma. “Our Economic Green Zone proposal is unlike anywhere in the state and one of the first of its kind on the West Coast,” wrote Heidi Stephens, STEGZ Organizer. “It will incentivize eco-businesses not only for improved public health, but also to protect the South Tacoma Aquifer.”

The Verity Microgrant will aid STEGZ in their mission for a healthy and vibrant South Tacoma. Funds will be put toward community organization, online and postal mail outreach, contracting subject matter experts to assist with code review and updates, and data management.

 

Yasuke Pharm

Yasuke Pharm is a family owned and BIPOC led organization dedicated to disrupting inequities in food systems, healing generational trauma within the BIPOC community, and building long term restorative economic justice. It is a collective of farmers, food system professionals, educators, healthcare workers, and mental wellness practitioners who work directly within underserved communities.

BIPOC communities have long been subjected to inequitable food availability and are disproportionately affected by food-related disease (such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and mental illness). Yasuke Pharm envisions combating these systemic health issues by building a thriving ecosystem of community resilience against food insecurity and other colonialist systems of oppression.

The Pharm is made up of three parts: a “food pharmacy” allowing access to holistic medicinal foods and herbs, grown with guidance from local ancestral farmers; a collective of farmers and food producers who collaborate in packing nutritional and culturally relevant food boxes that distributes them to the BIPOC community; and the Center, where Yasuke Pharm offers a variety of physical and mental health services such as nutrition classes, fitness programs, coaching, and support groups.

One example of the services provided is a Nutritional Wellness Program, a comprehensive program designed to bring unbiased, holistic, and evidence-based health and nutrition information to BIPOC communities. Participants are paired with a licensed health professional to assess and coach them on the healing and nutritional benefits of food, aid in the creation of dietician-certified meal plans, and assist in the creation of grocery lists.

Verity’s Microgrant will support Yasuke Pharm’s ongoing programming, particularly their upcoming holiday food boxes for historically underserved communities.