The Creative Advantage
Ensuring climate justice
Environmental champion Martha Kongsgaard
Seattle Foundation develops long-term strategies and
partnerships to support the people most impacted by
climate change. Through our Climate Justice Impact
Strategy, we will help realize climate justice alongside
communities of color and low-income communities.
Lean more at seattlefoundation.org/climate-justice
or contact your philanthropic advisor to make an
investment in the Climate Justice Impact Strategy.
A message from
Climate change is not a distant, global abstraction. It is one of the most urgent humanitarian
issues our world has ever faced, and we know that climate change is having an immediate
impact on people here and now. While climate change is affecting everyone across the globe,
the impacts do not affect us all equally. Low-income residents and communities of color are hit
first and worst, and often have the fewest resources to mitigate the negative consequences of
In 2018, we launched our Climate Justice Impact Strategy to center and support the communities
most affected by our changing climate. We are investing in community-based research; building
strong, diverse coalitions; and strengthening the capacity of nonprofits to advance local solutions to this global challenge.
In this issue of Heart & Science, we dive into our Climate Justice Impact Strategy, sharing the stories of organizations working to
develop new leaders and policies grounded in the needs of low-income people and communities of color. We also feature Martha
Kongsgaard, a champion and vocal advocate for protecting the environment. She chaired the Leadership Council of the Puget Sound
Partnership, and has served as a dedicated board member for a variety of leading nonprofits in our region. Martha is an active and
committed philanthropist we are proud to partner with, especially as we work to build community resilience to climate change.
We are also working with the arts community to support creative approaches to making our region a stronger, more vibrant
community for all. In this issue, we are excited to feature The Creative Advantage, an innovative program bringing arts instruction
to the most under-served students in Seattle Public Schools. We launched this program in 2013, alongside the school district and
Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, to ensure all students have access to dynamic arts education. We believe the arts are a powerful
medium for engaging our community in collective change. They ignite civil discourse, inspire action and help us imagine and advocate
for a more just world.
I hope you enjoy the stories in this issue of Heart & Science, and find inspiration in the leaders and organizations driving change across
Tony Mestres, President & CEO
TABLE OF CONTENTS Heart&Science
2 Of Note // A snapshot of trends 14 Feature // Environment: Published by Seattle Foundation
and news in philanthropy Ensuring Climate Justice
President & CEO
4 Feature // Arts & Culture: 22 Powering Change // Tony Mestres
The Creative Advantage Chief Brand Officer
24 #Next Gen // Duwamish Valley Mary Grace Roske
12 I n Other Words // Q&A with Youth Corps
Sally Gillis, Managing Director Chief Impact Officer
of Strategic Impact and Kris Hermanns
Chief Philanthropy Officer
Cover Photo Fidelma McGinn
Joshua Hagins, a first grader at Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Elementary in South Seattle shares a thought during his Editor
art class that’s funded through The Creative Advantage. Kristin Dizon
Level 29 Design
Mother Africa, Front and Centered, Naomi Ishisaka,
Danielle Motif Photography
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Front and Centered,
Paulina Lopez, Duwamish Valley Youth Corps
IDEAS EQUITY FUND
Seattle Foundation and its partners are fueling the
power of arts and culture to dismantle racism through
our new Creative Equity Fund, which is investing a total
of $200,000 in grants to 14 King County organizations.
The grants will provide either project-based or general Photo courtesy of King County
operating support to nonprofits with a wide array of
approaches to addressing structural racism through SPOTLIGHT CENSUS
their programming. This includes nonprofits working in ANNOUNCEMENT
the areas of housing and homelessness, criminal justice,
arts education, reproductive health, public policy and In partnership with King County and the City of Seattle,
food security. All are using arts and culture strategies to Seattle Foundation created the first ever Regional
create empathy, transcend divisions, inspire innovations Census Fund to support community organizations’
and engage the community in collective change. outreach efforts to ensure a complete and accurate
count for the 2020 Census.
President & CEO Tony Mestres made the announcement
at a joint press conference on April 1 with Seattle Mayor
Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine,
former Governor Gary Locke and leaders from
Through a grant from the Creative Equity Fund to The Foundation contributed $500,000 to this $1 million
Indigenous Showcase, Seattle Foundation is supporting fund, and invites philanthropists to join this critical
an arts exhibit at the new King Street Station ARTS funding effort. A complete census count will determine
space. The show, yəhaw̓, celebrates Native arts, culture billions in federal dollars for Washington state and
and narratives, and will run through August 3, 2019. determines our representation in Congress.
The fund will make its first grants to nonprofits in June.
DEEPER DIVE RESILIENT Seattle Foundation is partnering with the Land Trust Alliance,
LANDSCAPES Oregon Community Foundation and the Idaho Community
Foundation to catalyze the conservation of important lands
across the Pacific Northwest. With funding by the Doris Duke
Charitable Trust, the Pacific Northwest Resilient Landscapes
Initiative will permanently protect thousands of acres that
help plants and animals endure climate change, while also
providing people with important natural resources, such as
clean drinking water. This three-year, data-driven initiative
will provide capital grants to land trusts to safeguard natural
systems and key habitat. We welcome donors to join this
effort by contacting their Seattle Foundation advisor.
CLOSER to support compelling educational, Photo courtesy of Laird Norton Wealth Management
LOOK: recreational and cultural
programming for people of all ages. creating activities that will attract a
WATERFRONT PARK Seattle Foundation will provide broad spectrum of residents.
the grant to and collaborate with
To create the new Waterfront Park Friends of Waterfront Seattle, Pike
as a vital community hub, Seattle Place Market Foundation and
Foundation President & CEO Tony Seattle Aquarium to design the
Mestres announced that the programming, with input from the
Foundation is investing $500,000 community and a special focus on
“Waterfront Park enables Greater
Seattle to reimagine what public
space can be, and it creates a new
place for connections to be made.
The park will invite everyone to join
in creative community-building,
founded on the principles of equity
and opportunity for all,” Mestres said.
Artist rendering courtesy of 3
Friends of Waterfront Seattle
Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary school in South Seattle provides arts education through The Creative Advantage
initiative. Student artwork lines the halls and decorates the classrooms throughout the school.
First grader Jesse Alba collaborates
on Native totem drawings with
Michael Truong. Both are students
at MLK Jr. Elementary.
ARTS & CULTURE
The Creative Advantage brings the power of arts education to Seattle students
in under-resourced schools and communities
Story and photos by Naomi Ishisaka
A t Seattle Public Schools’ Martin Luther King, The work of Mr. Greg, as students fondly call him, is
Jr. Elementary (MLK) this spring, 19 students visible everywhere at MLK in South Seattle. Students’
in Janice Nehren’s first grade class watch highly personal artwork adorns the hallways, from their
with rapt attention as teaching artist Greg Thornton own vision of “Mount Rushmore” – featuring four people
shares Northwest Coast indigenous totems and their they admire – to a collaborative, deconstructed version
symbolism. of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting.
After coloring in totem animals, the children draw their In another assignment inspired by Martin Luther
“top totem,” to represent something unique to them and King, Jr., Thornton asked students to draw “What is
their family, which varies from a soccer ball to the video Your Dream?”
“What I saw is a huge sense of compassion for other
Thornton says the activity teaches children about people and a sense of community among these young
Native culture and gives them pride in themselves and people,” Thornton says. “You had young kids that weren't
their families. only thinking about themselves but thinking about how
“Young people who are engaged in arts education develop lifelong skills
or creative habits that support them in their journey as students but also
in the rest of their life, in their careers and their communities.”
– Lara Davis, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture
they could do things to make the world better. I had a lot leaving districts and less-resourced schools with a
of kids that wanted to actually march with Martin Luther requirement they had no way to pay for. The Creative
King. [They] wanted to stop bullying.” Advantage is a strategy to fill that gap.
THE NEED FOR ARTS Launched in 2013, the initiative will be in 61 of 102
EQUITY schools by the end of the school year in 2019. Since
then, Seattle Public Schools has doubled the number
These art-based learning strategies are at the core of of elementary visual arts and music programs. Schools
The Creative Advantage, the initiative that supports in The Creative Advantage each receive $15,000 in
Thornton’s work. The Creative Advantage is a seed money to create or enhance arts partnerships
partnership between Seattle Public Schools, Seattle’s and professional development, plus other supports
Office of Arts & Culture, Seattle Foundation and more and resources. The initiative launched with a focus
than 90 community arts partners to work toward a goal on schools with less access to the arts in Central,
where all students have access to arts education. Southwest and Southeast Seattle, and will eventually
expand to all schools.
While arts education was mandated by the state for all
students in 1993 and 2014, no funding was included, Lara Davis, arts education manager for the Office of Arts
& Culture and a member of the initiative’s leadership
team, says that arts access is predictable by race, family The Creative Advantage has been
income and home language. Correcting those inequities implemented in 45 K-12 Seattle
is part of a larger movement toward education justice. Public Schools in the Central,
Southwest and Southeast regions.
“We talk about creating equitable access for each and By the end of the school year in
every student to arts education and to creative learning 2019, it will increase to 61 schools
experiences. Young people who are engaged in arts out of 102. A third party evaluator
education develop lifelong skills or creative habits that found that evidence of 21st century
support them in their journey as students but also in the learning skills, including critical
rest of their life, in their careers and their communities,” thinking, creativity and persistence,
said Davis, who adds that arts curriculum can also keep
some in school who are at risk for leaving. is 35% higher in Creative
With the gains in the last five years, most Seattle Public Advantage classrooms than the
Schools now have some kind of arts programming, but state average.
many schools rely on PTAs to enhance arts programs,
yielding dramatic disparities in funding. That means SEATTLE PUBLIC
some schools raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, SCHOOL STUDENTS
while others bring in a few thousand. “That doesn't mean
that those parents care any less,” Davis says. “It means TOTAL: 52,931
they don't have the time, energy perhaps, or resources
to participate. And of course those things run along the Caucasian / White (47.33%)
lines of racial and economic barriers.” Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander (0.42%)*
ARTS DEVELOP American Indian / Alaska Native (0.51%)*
21ST CENTURY SKILLS Hispanic / Latino (12.26%)
Seattle Foundation Chief Philanthropy Officer Fidelma African American / Black (14.21%)
McGinn says that The Creative Advantage dovetails
with the Foundation’s commitment to racial equity and * Statistically too small to represent on pie chart
economic inclusion, as well as its Healthy Community
Framework, which considers Arts & Culture and
Education crucial to a vibrant community.
“There's a very clear divide between a lack of resources
and being able to access a full and complete school
experience. So, The Creative Advantage is intentionally
targeted at under-resourced elementary, middle and high
schools, launched first in the Central District and now
replicating across the whole district,” she said.
MLK Elementary Principal Chris Thomas says that The
Creative Advantage’s benefits extend far beyond arts
First graders Naomi,
Blaine and Iman (pictured
left to right) enjoy coloring
in Native totem designs
during art class.
education. In addition to integrating teaching artist The Creative Advantage also infuses 21st century skills,
Thornton into science, technology, engineering and math including critical thinking, communication, collaboration,
programs, MLK uses arts education to build confidence creativity and perseverance into every child’s education.
in writing and reading. Its 2018 progress report finds evidence of those skills
is 35 percent higher in Creative Advantage schools –
“If you say, ‘we're doing reading’ [students] might say, especially arts classrooms.
‘Oh no, I don't do want to do that.’ But if you say, ‘Hey
we're doing this art project and part of it is writing about The benefits of integrating arts into a student’s overall
[your own Mount Rushmore],’ then they're expressing learning experience are “unequivocal,” says McGinn. “The
themselves,” Thomas says. “They're excited because ability to engage in performing arts, theatre, reading and
they just did this cool thing that they came up with.” literature exposes them to a whole other new body of
work and improves their overall literacy.”
Gail Sehlhorst, visual and performing arts manager for
Seattle Public Schools, says the initiative also responds NEW AVENUES OF
to the needs and interests of students. EXPRESSION
For example, when The Creative Advantage was in the At Rainier Beach High School, students in Rachel
research phase, leaders learned that students wanted Street’s advanced theatre program, which receives
more career-connected arts opportunities. They created Creative Advantage support, are choreographing a
the Media Arts Seattle Skills Center to serve students performance for preschool students. Using a broom and
from across the district. “Students from any high school sticks, they re-create the famous orphanage scene, “It’s
take courses for half a day, five days a week, and are a Hard Knock Life,” from the musical “Annie.”
immersed in graphic design, film, digital audio and
more,” Sehlhorst says.
Alexis Jackson, a sophomore and president of the drama ART AND MUSIC
club, says this is her happiest place. Expressing her PROGRAMS
feelings through acting has increased her confidence
and helped with the rest of her schooling. In a five-year period, the number of Seattle Public
Schools with K-5 Music doubled from 24 to 48 schools
“When it comes to presentations or projects, being able
to work with other people or just talk in front of people, and K-5 Visual Art doubled from 24 to 49 schools.
you become a more creative person and more outgoing
or confident when it comes to academics,” said Jackson, 48 49
16. “It gave me a platform to express how I felt because I
was able to write my own stories and share them. It gave 24 24
me an outlet to become a person who I was proud to be.”
Fellow student Edgar Santos Perez, 15, who worked
through his shyness in the class, agrees. “It affects you
a lot to become more confident. Outside of theatre,
you learn more and you see a bigger picture on certain
things. You develop a bigger understanding and love for
art,” he said.
2012-13 2017-18 2012-13 2017-18
K-5 Music Programs K-5 Visual Art Programs
Teaching artist Greg Thornton of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Elementary points to a portrait of himself that a student
drew to represent four important people in his life, part of
a class project inspired by Mount Rushmore.
Rainier Beach High School theatre
students Flora Saelor, Elijah Diaz and
Jessica Ta rehearse a scene from the
SEATTLE PUBLIC Despite The Creative Advantage support, resources are
SCHOOL STUDENTS still limited for arts at Rainier Beach, which is made up of
97 percent students of color and 75 percent who qualify
31% 21% for free or reduced lunch. But Jackson says she is proud
Free and of the school’s accomplishments, including winning the
Reduced Non-English 2018 Washington State Thespian Lip Sync Battle.
“Winning the Lip Sync Battle as a very diverse and
Background very Black group, we were able to show people that
hey, we might not have enough money to put on a full
11% production, but we can still be just as successful as
any majority white school – without having to spend
English Language Learners thousands of dollars on sets or costumes or scripts,”
Special She added that the drama department started the year
Education Experiencing with zero dollars and had to raise $5,500 through a
Homelessness GoFundMe campaign to send the team to Bellingham
for the state competition.
“It [theatre] gave me a platform to express how I felt because
I was able to write my own stories and share them. It gave me
an outlet to become a person who I was proud to be.”
– Alexis Jackson, 16, Rainier Beach High School
Because Rainier Beach does not have resources for a production because we don't have the resources
full theatre show, Jackson asked Franklin High School if for it.”
she could join their production for the experience.
Despite the disparities, Jackson and Rainier Beach
“Having to go to another school in order to be a part of remain determined. “I'm learning a life lesson of how
that, I don't think it's OK … People call [Rainier Beach to work with and gain more with the very little that you
High School] ‘ghetto’ but we just have less resources. are given. Or maybe you're not given anything and work
We're looked down upon,” Jackson says. “We shouldn't from the bottom to become even more successful than
have to beg or ask to be part of [another] high school’s someone who is privileged and was given a head start.”
Rainier Beach High School students Edgar
Santos Perez, left, and Alexis Jackson both say
that participating in theatre has increased their
IN OTHER WORDS Q. I n your own words, what is climate justice?
A. The impacts of climate change are here and now and
A conversation with
Sally Gillis we need to recognize who is impacted by them with
a lens of social justice. We know that communities
Sally Gillis is Managing Director of Strategic of color and low-income residents are hit first and
Impact & Partnerships at Seattle Foundation worst by the impacts of climate change – whether
and leads our Climate Justice Impact Strategy. it’s air pollution, extreme heat or the ability to be
She develops collaborative partnerships resilient in the face of a wildfire or a flood. Traditionally,
and community investment strategies to underrepresented and underfunded communities face
achieve greater economic and racial equity in further hurdles in adapting to and preparing for our
Greater Seattle. Sally previously served as the changing climate.
Director of Collective Action at Social Venture
Partners Seattle, and her background includes Climate change can sound like this distant, looming
working in the government, nonprofit and experience instead of something happening here and
foundation sectors in homelessness and youth now. If you view it as a future issue, it can feel like a
development. She has a master’s degree in luxury to care about in the face of so many immediate
macro-level social work. needs. But when you look at how it affects people now,
we are seeing diverse cultures leading the commitment
12 Heart&Science to support the communities most impacted.
Q. How has the environmental movement been growing to 13
include communities of color?
A. We have, at times, thought of the environment through a narrow lens.
We think about the beautiful mountains, Puget Sound and great outdoor
spaces across the Pacific Northwest. Far too often, we don’t think of the
environment in terms of impacts on our daily lives and livelihoods like the use
of transit, access to clean air and water, and healthy, diverse and affordable
foods. We need to further consider who has access, who is resourced and
who is telling the story about the impacts of climate change.
Broadening the conversation around the environment and climate change
has encouraged the broadening of the tent around who’s driving solutions.
We need to evaluate who are the greatest users of fossil fuels, versus who
is being most impacted by them. Centering racial and economic equity in
our discussions and solutions around climate, and learning from diverse
communities in the movement, ensures that the whole region benefits.
Q. Seattle Foundation launched its Climate Justice Impact
Strategy last year; how will it make a difference?
A. Seattle Foundation’s impact strategy is designed with an eye toward long-
term systems change. We believe that working toward climate justice
requires strategies and investment in mitigation, adaptation, resilience
and leadership. In order to get there, we are investing in critical research
and in the leadership and convening of nonprofits that are truly driving this
work forward. We are pushing for policy changes that are grounded in a
commitment to racial equity. We also think about how we as a Foundation
use our voice to help change the narrative around the urgency of climate
justice. We are encouraging philanthropists to join us, recognizing that we
can achieve more together than alone.
Q. What gives you hope about this global problem facing
A. I am consistently impressed by regional leaders for embracing a commitment
to climate justice, from the Duwamish Valley to Yakima. It’s now really rare
for me to have a conversation about different issues, such as education,
homelessness, or employment, without the impacts of climate change being
referenced. And I’m motivated by that groundswell of commitment and
support, and the tenacity of leaders driving this change.
12 Heart&Science The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition hosts
a community cleanup day along the polluted
Duwamish River, a federal Superfund site.
Photo courtesy of the DRCC
A group of women served by the nonprofit Mother Africa
gather to learn about climate change and develop an
infographic in Arabic to share knowledge with others.
Photo courtesy of Mother Africa
ENSURING CLIMATE JUSTICE
Supported by Seattle Foundation, powerful coalitions work together to lift up the
people most impacted by climate change
By Jane C. Hu
W hen Risho Sapano arrived in Seattle The group’s latest focus may surprise some: raising
nearly two decades ago and began awareness about climate justice. But Sapano, who is
working as an advocate for victims of originally from Sudan, quickly connects the dots.
domestic violence, she heard people in the African
community talk about needing help to access services “Refugees displaced from their home country didn’t
and to advocate for health, employment and educational have a choice where they settled,” she says. “Many are
opportunities. funneled towards certain communities, without realizing
that those are the areas struck by pollution, in food
In response, Sapano founded Mother Africa, a deserts, or high in crime.”
community-based organization dedicated to supporting
and connecting African refugee and immigrant women Scads of recent studies add data to what many
with resources, services and leadership opportunities. communities in Seattle and King County have
experienced firsthand: that communities of color are
disproportionately affected by environmental burdens,
Long the center of Seattle’s heavy industries, the Duwamish
River continues to be an industrial and shipping corridor.
Photo courtesy of DRCC
making them more vulnerable and at risk from climate lending practices. Their lower property values and rents
change impacts, like air and water pollution, flooding, attract many lower-income people, including refugees
drought and wildfires. Exposure to these environmental and those who speak a language other than English
hazards diminishes both quality of life and lifespan. And at home. These residents are often less likely to have
the impacts are significant: an analysis of the South the time, resources or connection to advocate for their
Park and Georgetown neighborhoods, the most polluted environmental needs with influential groups, lawmakers
in Seattle, shows that residents have a life expectancy and other decision-makers.
eight years shorter than the city average and 13 years
shorter than residents of Laurelhurst, one of Seattle's NEW COALITIONS
most affluent neighborhoods. BUILD POWER
It’s research and statistics like these that led Seattle Advocacy groups across the region are organizing to
Foundation to create its Climate Justice Impact change that, working towards equitable environmental
Strategy. In the state and region, low-income people and climate change solutions. A key leader, and an
and communities of color are suffering first and worst organization that Seattle Foundation supports through
from the impacts of climate change and pollution. The its strategy, is Front and Centered, a statewide coalition
Foundation’s climate justice strategy is designed to of more than 60 organizations led by people of color
ensure that the communities in Seattle most impacted tackling environmental and climate disparities.
have the resources and support to create their own
solutions. “Environmentalism has traditionally been a pretty white
field, and issues have historically been siloed,” says
That includes supporting advocacy organizations that Deric Gruen, Front and Centered’s program director.
work in neighborhoods like South Park and Georgetown “There was a sense that we could solve environmental
to push policies that decrease the pollution burden problems if scientists could just understand how to fix
on residents and increase their resilience to climate pollution, but the reality is we live in a complex society,
change. Located next to the Duwamish River as well and we need to really pay attention to the complexities of
as heavy industries, major highways and port facilities, who’s affected.”
these areas have a history of inequitable conditions,
including high pollution, disinvestment and unfair bank
Across the US, 10 /12
race is the most
significant predictor The cumulative impacts of pollution contribute to a
of a person living near situation in which Black adults die 10 years sooner than
whites on average as a result of breathing air pollution
water, or soil. over time or, cumulative impacts of air pollution. On
average, Hispanic adults die 12 years sooner than
Source: The Nation: Race Best Predicts Whether You Live Near Pollution whites due to air pollution.
Source: Front and Centered Report: The Disproportionate Burden of
Fossil Fuel Air Pollution in Washington State
A new study finds that air pollution is SEATTLE REGION
disproportionately caused by white Americans'
consumption of goods and services, but
disproportionately inhaled by Black and Life expectancy in South Park and Georgetown,
Hispanic Americans. Air pollution is the largest neighborhoods that border the Duwamish River,
one of the nation’s most toxic waste sites and a
environmental health risk in the U.S. Superfund cleanup site, is 8 years shorter than the
Seattle average – and a staggering 13 years shorter
56% than for residents of Laurelhurst, one of Seattle’s
Blacks are exposed to about 56 percent more wealthiest neighborhoods.
pollution than is caused by their consumption.
Source: Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Study:
63% The Duwamish River Cumulative Health Impacts Analysis
Hispanics experience 63 percent more pollution 13 14of the heaviest industrial
than they generate.
polluters in Seattle are located within half a mile of
neighborhoods where communities of color, immigrants,
By comparison, whites breathe 17 percent less
air pollution than they create. refugees and low-income residents are concentrated.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Study: Source: U.S. Census Bureau and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial-ethnic
disparities in air pollution exposure
Front and Centered shared
a presentation about the
disproportionate effects of
climate justice on communities
of color at its summit.
Photo courtesy of Front and
Centered and M. Miller
Front and Centered recently hosted a summit of 225 someone pulling you over because of the way that you
leaders from around the state for the largest gathering look,” she said.
of people of color on environmental and climate justice.
“The work is to focus on how can these communities MOVING POLICIES
– people who are directly and personally impacted FORWARD
by climate change – be engaged in the conversation
in which they have a huge stake?” said Aiko Schaefer, Front and Centered is a leading member of the Alliance
director of Front and Centered. for Jobs and Clean Energy, a coalition of more than 250
Washington organizations that led the charge on the
The group also launched a groundbreaking interactive statewide Initiative 1631. The initiative proposed the
map that displays environmental disparities and related nation’s first carbon fee on greenhouse gas polluters to
health risk factors by neighborhood. It’s the first time reinvest the proceeds into communities, clean energy
that the cumulative impact of those risk factors across and jobs. It earned support from a broad spectrum
the state have been quantified, making it a valuable tool of corporate and government leaders, including REI,
to inform policy decisions to improve access to clean Microsoft, Expedia, Bill Gates and Governor Jay Inslee,
air, clean water and a healthy environment throughout as well as a majority of voters in King County. While
the state. it did not pass, the coalition that united around it is
optimistic about where the movement will go.
Schaefer said that climate justice is really about people’s
ability to shape the lives they want to lead. “That can “We built a policy which didn’t pass this time around, but
mean a clean and healthy neighborhood, and a child free the most durable and important thing we did was come
from asthma or the ability to drink clean water, as much together and create a structure with shared governance,
as it is about casting your ballot or being able to drive where decisions were made through partnership with
your car down the highway and not be worried about
communities of color and labor organizations,” says EMPOWERING
Becky Kelley, president of the Washington Environmental GRASSROOTS ACTION
Council, a leading member of the Alliance.
Another group that brings community expertise to the
The Alliance and Front and Centered are charting a movement is the Duwamish River Clean-up Coalition/
path together and moving forward with 2019 legislative Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG). The group
goals, including the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) empowers the Duwamish Valley community to build
Act (SB 5489), which acknowledges environmental and a healthier, more just environment by improving water
health disparities and declares that state policy must quality, creating more green spaces, and connecting
incorporate environmental justice principles. neighbors to green job opportunities and training. The
nonprofit also leads community engagement efforts
Beyond big-picture, state-level initiatives to acknowledge around the long-term cleanup of the river, which was
and mitigate climate and equity issues, individual declared a Superfund site in 2001.
members of the coalition continue their local,
grassroots work. “We need to keep pushing the government, but we also
need to be doing some mitigation as a community,” says
For instance, Sapano’s Mother Africa, a member of Paulina Lopez, the DRCC/TAG’s executive director. “We’re
Front and Centered, recently hosted a listening session working at being better stewards of our community, and
for 15 Arabic-speaking women from eight countries to educating ourselves better about what we can do.”
discuss what they know about climate change. Working
with the King County Department of Natural Resources The Coalition hosts community cleanup days,
and Parks, they are creating an infographic in Arabic collaborates with area businesses on projects and plays
about climate change to increase the community’s a critical role in educating the community.
understanding of the issue.
Members of Front and Centered gathered to show support for I-1631, the statewide ballot
initiative to increase clean energy, decrease pollution and strengthen the leadership of
communities of color in decision-making. Photo courtesy of Front and Centered and Hanna Letinich
Paulina Lopez, executive director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, leads
community efforts to make the Georgetown and South Park areas cleaner and healthier,
and to advocate for effective cleanup of the river. The Coalition’s Youth Corps does many
community projects, including painting a mural of the river in Duwamish Waterway Park,
pictured below. Photos by Danielle Motif Photography
In January 2019, the statewide coalition Front and Centered gathered 225 leaders of
color for a summit on climate justice. Its director, Aiko Schaefer, is pictured third from
right in the front. Photo courtesy of Front and Centered and M. Miller
“This is a time when we need everybody leaning in, when we need
every idea coming forward, everyone figuring out how we can
address climate change and ensure a just future.”
– Aiko Schaefer, Director, Front and Centered
Despite the river’s heavy pollution, it remains a popular heard, and to help provide alternative spaces for them,”
place for residents to catch fish and crab. “There’s lots Lopez said.
of people fishing on the river, for cultural practices, or for
business — some tribes have access, and the immigrant It will take those kinds of grassroots efforts and groups
community fishes there as well,” says Lopez. working together in committed coalitions to ensure that
the communities most affected by climate change lead
Though the DRCC/TAG and other local groups have the way to solutions.
tried to spread the word about the polluted waters, that
message doesn’t always reach anglers. Even when it As Front and Centered’s Schaefer says: “This is a time
does, it can be difficult to dissuade residents who fish as when we need everybody leaning in, when we need every
a cultural practice, or cannot afford to do so elsewhere. idea coming forward, everyone figuring out how we can
“We’re working with them to make sure their voices are address climate change and ensure a just future.”
By Kristin Dizon
As her husband jokes, Martha Kongsgaard has a hard Among her many roles, Kongsgaard has served as the
time saying no. board president for Philanthropy Northwest, chair of
the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council and
That’s one reason she wears so many hats in advocating of the Marine Resources Advisory Council, and chair of
for the environment and the public good. From serving the Washington Women’s Foundation. Goldman is on
as a founding board member of IslandWood, to heading the boards of Washington Environmental Council and
the Aquarium’s campaign to build an innovative Ocean Washington Conservation Voters.
Pavilion, to investing in climate justice efforts and the
I-1631 campaign, Kongsgaard and husband Peter “Peter and I believe that in the business of making
Goldman have been leaders in stewarding our natural change we have to use all the levers at our disposal:
world for more than 30 years. public policy, electoral politics, litigation, good will,
communication, shoe leather investigation, humor and
Kongsgaard’s love of nature started early, roaming the philanthropy,” Kongsgaard said. “This vertical approach
outdoors as a tomboy in rural Napa, California, before provides a full suite of linked solutions that exist beyond
spending four summers working as a park ranger for the even the strongest philanthropic portfolio.”
National Park Service in Stehekin, Washington. She and
Goldman are avid skiers, cyclists and hikers who spend The couple met in 1981 in law school and married in
a lot of time at their place in Winthrop. 1988. While raising three sons, she served as a public
defender, while Goldman was a King County prosecutor.
“I think one acts to protect what one loves. And there's a Kongsgaard jokes that they never squared off in the
kinship with the natural world imprinted on me from my courtroom, but argued at home about sentencing reform
childhood,” said Kongsgaard. and the death penalty rather than who’s turn it was to
take out the garbage.
She translated that love into philanthropic giving and
service. After leaving the Prosecutor’s office over two decades
Martha Kongsgaard, and her husband Peter Goldman, steward their giving through Seattle
Foundation. She has years of devoted community service, including on the boards of Earthjustice,
the Bullitt Foundation, The Ruckelshaus Center, Friends of the Waterfront, Washington Environmental
Council, and the University of Washington’s College of the Environment. She has been recognized
with numerous awards, including Woman of the Year Award by Seattle University School of Law, and
the Environmental Hero Award by the Washington Environmental Council.
ago, Goldman started the Washington Forest Law “The environmental community, traditionally white and
Center, a public interest firm providing free legal services siloed, has begun to embrace a new ethos of inclusion,
to protect 10 million acres of forestlands in the state. understanding that we need to include the broader
An avid outdoorsman since childhood, Goldman is an community,” Kongsgaard said. “We need to solve for
experienced mountaineer who has climbed in South the issues facing communities that aren't able to move,
America, the Himalayas, and has summitted an 8,000 like the place-bound Coast Salish tribes who will feel
meter peak in Pakistan. the effects of sea level rise first, and people of color,
economically challenged communities, people who lack
The year they married, they created the Kongsgaard- agency on any given day to keep up with policy, let alone
Goldman Foundation, which served for nearly 30 years to buy groceries.”
as a pass-through fund with income from Goldman’s
family business on the East Coast. With proceeds Kongsgaard said many answers lie in these communities
from the recent sale of the business, they transitioned that traditional environmentalists are beginning to learn
their philanthropy to a family foundation at Seattle from and partner with to powerful effect.
Foundation to benefit from a full team and services.
She focuses on the positive, citing a quote from
Kongsgaard views the couple’s giving and service as environmental leader Denis Hayes: “For those of us who
a collective body of work about the kind of world they know our Darwin, we understand that pessimism has no
envision. survival value.”
“Giving is an ecosystem and it’s the sweep of work that “There is so much great work going on around the globe.
one can look back on and ask– did we take a holistic The public is demanding change and the next generation
approach? Did we include people in the community who will drive it. We have to keep innovating and insisting
don’t have agency and power? Did we listen deeply and our way out of this. There really is no other choice,” she
make ourselves available and transparent?” she said. said. “Living in this place, one can walk out on any high
point in the region and behold nature’s splendor in our
She was also an early champion of climate justice to transitory care, be thankful, and gear up for another
empower the people most impacted by climate change. day’s work.”
Martha Kongsgaard and husband Peter Goldman
steward their giving through Seattle Foundation.
Photo courtesy of Martha Kongsgaard
#NextGen Duwamish Valley Youth Corps
Friends Deysi Olivera, left, and
Elisa Antonio, appreciate the 10-
week Youth Corps program that
increases their understanding of
environmental issues and green
Photo by Danielle Motif Photography
On a Saturday morning in South Park, 16 high school Friends Elisa Antonio and Deysi Olivera take pride in the
students painted leaping salmon in a meandering river of painting, designed by Native artist Robert Fernandez,
vivid blues and greens on the wall of a massive concrete and the tree planting the youth corps has done in the
community. “Once you’re here a while, you think
building next to the Duwamish that the Duwamish is just a river. This river helps
Waterway Park.. These members the economy, and it’s also an environmental
of the Duwamish Valley Youth connection to this place,” said Antonio, 14.
Corps are beautifying their
neighborhood park with a Olivera, 14, said the mural tells the story of how the river
mural, while learning about was once free flowing and filled with salmon, beavers
environmental issues like and birds, before being straightened and harnessed by
climate justice and green careers. industry. In the third section of the mural, the Duwamish
once more takes its natural, curvilinear form and returns
Paulina Lopez, executive director of the Duwamish River to a healthy ecosystem.
Cleanup Coalition, which runs the youth program, said at
the start of the program the kids didn’t talk about climate “It’s life changing for me. It changed my whole
justice. “But now, they understand that together, mindset and career path. I want to be involved
they have power through their voice. We want with the environment,” said Olivera of the Youth
to acknowledge the voice they have as current Corps which is supported by grants from the City of
leaders but also as future decision-makers,” Seattle. “I want this for my kids. I want them to
she said. have a future here.”
There are few better ways to ensure the future of Greater
Seattle than by investing in the education of talented
students. An investment in Seattle Foundation's scholarship
fund will unite your passion for education with the rewarding
opportunity to create a lasting impact on a student's life and
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT US AT SCHOLARSHIPS@SEATTLEFOUNDATION.ORG,
1601 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900
Seattle, WA 98101
O 206.622.2294 F 206.622.7673