Bank of America Awards $400,000 to Two Puget Sound Nonprofits

The 2016 Neighborhood Builder Winners are tackling hunger and family support services

sponsored by Bank of America

Greater Seattle has undergone massive changes in recent years, becoming a thriving tech hub with a strong economy that attracts newcomers from across the nation. But as our city becomes more affluent and our population grows, our economic divisions are deepening, leading many to wonder how we can ensure that every community member is getting the support they need.

The solution is multi-pronged, of course, but a big part of the answer lies in our local nonprofits. These organizations play a critical role in supporting healthy communities, whether they’re serving hungry families dinner or helping immigrants gain access to the resources they need. In order for our region to grow responsibly, we must ensure that our local nonprofits are well-funded so they can grow too.

Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program works to address this issue by awarding two Puget Sound nonprofits an unrestricted $200,000 grant and providing leadership training each year to fuel strategic growth within the organizations. This year’s recipients, who were announced from the stage at Seattle Business Magazine’s Community Impact Awards celebration, are tackling two of the region’s critical issues: hunger and family support services.

And the 2016 Neighborhood Builder Winners Are…

Food Lifeline is a distribution center that distributes the equivalent of 91,000 meals a day to local food assistance programs. Known as the food bank for food banks, the organization redirects surplus food from manufacturers, farmers, grocery stores and restaurants that might otherwise go to waste.

Southwest Youth & Family Services (SWYFS) offers counseling, education and family support to 90,000 residents in Southwest Seattle. Through culturally relevant support groups, youth violence prevention programs, high school re-entry programs, parenting classes and other support services, SWYFS aims to transform futures.

“As our economy improves, we must be mindful of the economic well-being of the community as a whole,” said Anthony DiBlasi, Seattle Market and Washington State President for Bank of America. “While certain sectors of our economy are booming, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the more vulnerable members of our community. Nonprofits are critical to the health of our region, and we are very pleased that Food Lifeline and SWYFS are this year’s Neighborhood Builder winners and will get the financial resources and leadership training they need to meet the changing needs of our region.”

Keeping Evolving Communities Healthy

As Seattle’s economy and population grow, businesses and nonprofits must work together to maintain inclusive communities that support all of our residents and their changing needs. The Neighborhood Builders program will help Food Lifeline and SWYFS grow, operationally and financially, to keep pace with our community’s demands for services. 

Food Lifeline recently launched a 10-year strategic plan to expand its programs, setting a goal to double the amount of food it distributes annually from 40 million pounds a year to 80 million pounds a year. Executing an expansion of this scale requires a great deal of financial and organizational support, and Food Lifeline is grateful to have Neighborhood Builders as a partner on its ambitious undertaking.

“As Food Lifeline grows, it is vital that all levels of leadership develop along with it,” said Linda Nageotte, president and CEO of Food Lifeline. “As we launch our expansion, it will be challenging to correctly identify how to best support organizational leadership. The Neighborhood Builders’ leadership development training will be incredibly beneficial, providing the tools and helping us develop the skills we will need to lead this change. The training will also provide a unique opportunity to learn from and share with other Neighborhood Builders, helping develop a highly-connected community. We thank Bank of America for joining us in the fight against hunger.”

SWYFS also has plans to expand its programs. The organization envisions using the support from Neighborhood Builders to maintain its afterschool and summer academic support program and expand its SW Education Center, which offers high school and GED programs for students who have dropped out or been expelled from traditional schools.

“As increasingly more families are priced out of Seattle neighborhoods, SWYFS has seen a growing demand for GED programs in the Highline School District,” said Steve Daschle, executive director of SWYFS. “To meet this demand, SWYFS is opening Education Center classrooms in White Center. Without funding from the Neighborhood Builders program, expanding the program would not be possible. We are very grateful to be part of this year’s Neighborhood Builders program so we can expand our reach in the community and continue to make King County a healthier, more supportive place for all of us.”

A Longstanding Regional Impact

Since Bank of America launched its Neighborhood Builders program in 2004, it has trained nearly 2,000 nonprofit directors and emerging leaders in the U.S. from more than 900 nonprofit organizations, awarding each organization with $200,000 in unrestricted funding: a unique coveted funding source in the nonprofit world. The grant recipients are chosen by a committee of bank leaders, community influencers, and previous Neighborhood Builders recipients who look for nonprofits that have a track record of success and promising plans for the future, but lack the financial resources to execute their plans.

Previous Puget Sound-area Neighborhood Builder grant recipients include Tree House, Plymouth Housing Group, Imagine Housing and City Year! Puget Sound. The Neighborhood Builders program gave each of these organizations the lift they needed to get to the next level of community impact.

Plymouth Housing Group, an organization that provides safe, supportive housing to homeless adults, was a Neighborhood Builders recipient in 2015. Plymouth has been able to significantly expand its existing Seattle-area housing thanks to the Neighborhood Builders program.  

“As homelessness becomes more prevalent in our region, we’ve seen the need for our services grow tremendously,” said Paul Lambros, executive director at Plymouth Housing. “Having Bank of America’s support helped us launch a significant expansion so we can help fulfill those needs. The unrestricted funding we received allowed us to begin developing two new buildings in addition to our 13 existing supportive housing sites downtown. Our partnership with Bank of America also helped instill confidence in other donors, enabling us to raise additional funds so we can continue expanding our efforts to end homelessness.”

A Multi-Faceted Growth Plan

The Neighborhood Builders program is much more than a monetary donation. It helps develop each organization’s leadership team and operational capacity so they can maintain sustainable growth. In fact, the leadership development component of the program is the largest philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership development in the nation. The bank also provides marketing materials, volunteer support and in-roads to the business community that help the entire organization grow to reach the next level of impact.

Tech Access Foundation (TAF) was a Neighborhood Builders recipient in 2015 as well. TAF is a nonprofit leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The organization uses STEM as a tool for realizing social change and educational equality in communities of color and those with low income.

Last year TAF took on a formidable task: The organization’s leaders developed a comprehensive 20-year plan mapping out its long-term goals and how TAF will scale to achieve them. Having support from Bank of America’s leadership development program as TAF created the plan and started to scale its organization accordingly proved to be invaluable.

“The leadership development training has been incredibly helpful for our executive team,” said Trish Millines Dziko, co-founder and executive director at TAF. “As part of the training, we met with former Neighborhood Builders recipients who had scaled their organizations or were in the process of doing so. Learning from other executives who have similar expansion goals as TAF and hearing about the challenges they have faced has been really valuable. We plan to expand TAF’s programs significantly, and we are grateful to have Bank of America’s support to help guide us as we do so.”

Learn more about the impact of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program on Washington State. 

Economic Outlook: Gazing Beyond 2017

Economic Outlook: Gazing Beyond 2017

Crystal-ball predictions of what’s to come.

The 5 W’s of the news industry
by Mónica Guzmán 

WHO: After years of existential struggle, lots of smallish media organizations (e.g., iterations of Nextdoor and neighborhood blogs) will have become essential to the Seattle communities they serve. You’ll identify with several of these communities — composed of people who live how you live, like what you like or want what you want — and you’ll know them as hubs that include you, not just outlets that inform you. 

WHAT: By 2035, almost everything you do will become somebody’s data, and artificial intelligence — those algorithms that already customize content — will churn out a version of a story just for you. Want knowledge that isn’t so nosy? You’ll probably need to pay more for it.

WHEN/WHERE: Smart objects such as driverless cars will tell you everything you need to know. But after key research findings on the perils of distraction and the benefits of in-person interaction, you’ll finally know when to turn them off and shut them up.

WHY: With information that’s so personalized and segregated, distinguishing what enlightens us from what only affirms our attitudes will be tough. Luckily, a new set of tools — and a new kind of journalism — will have evolved to lead us to information that our algorithms would have never found.  

MONICA GUZMAN is a columnist for The Seattle Times and cofounder of The Evergrey, a daily email newsletter about Seattle.


Imagine an ever-changing waterfront
by Charles Royer

James Corner, the lead designer for Seattle’s new waterfront, doesn’t believe it will ever be finished. He is not handing in a finished design at the end of his contract. 

He is designing a canvas that future generations will shape and reshape. He once said the idea for the waterfront is really that of a classic Pioneer Square loft: a large space that new generations of residents will change and reorganize to accommodate the needs, demands and trends of their own time. 

So Seattle’s new waterfront really is not about what it might look like. Sure, it will be green and open to the sky and the water and the mountains. And open to the crowds — the hustle and bustle of people at play or at rest or just passing through the big city. 

But it is more about how the waterfront will be used by succeeding generations: locals, newcomers and visitors, young and old, the fit and the not so fit, all seeking to contribute to the mix of activity in a place that encourages a changing use. 

Think of a lot less stressful noise and more happy noise. Music. Laughter. Even healthier fish and a cleaner Elliott Bay. 

I hope for what we have dreamed: a waterfront for all, to use as each person chooses.  

CHARLES ROYER, a former Seattle mayor, is cochair of Seattle’s Central Waterfront Committee.


Ferries on Lake Washington? It could happen — again
by Leslie Helm

Lake Washington is a magnificent community asset, but it’s a barrier where traffic is concerned. Michael Christ has a solution. He’d like to reintroduce passenger ferries, which graced the region’s waterways from the 1850s to the 1930s.

Christ, the CEO of Seco Development, is betting heavily on Renton’s Southport mixed-use waterfront development. He pictures slow-moving barge-like ferries transporting 150 to 175 people and countless bicycles at a time. A trip between Renton and Seattle’s South Lake Union might take an hour, he says, but there would be Wi-Fi and a chance to get some work done.

“It would be so much more beautiful than driving,” says Christ. “It would be romantic.” 

Skeptics — and there are plenty — say commuters prefer bus, light rail or car, adding that boats are expensive, and that there isn’t enough development along the lake to make the plan work. 

Christ calls them shortsighted. The boats he envisions are energy efficient and cheap (less than $5 million for three boats circling the lake) and would connect with other public transportation.

Maybe King County Executive Dow Constantine, who backed the popular water taxi between West Seattle and downtown, will go for a new “Lake Link.” Sound far-fetched? Maybe not. The county has considered reviving an idea, raised and quashed when the Great Recession hit, of testing two passenger-ferry routes to the University of Washington — one from Kenmore and the other from Kirkland.

As Christ points out, big growth is projected for cities all around the lake. “You’re going to have 5 million people living around this lake,” he notes. “It’s just a question of time before this happens.” 

LESLIE HELM is the executive editor of Seattle Business magazine.