Partners in Change (the Partnership) is a coalition of POC-led, POC-serving, community-based organizations and community leaders across King County and Washington State. We work to build racial and social justice in the County and State’s response to the COVID-19 crisis as well as long-term equity infrastructure, bubbling up the voices and needs of our communities to decision-makers. The Partnership reaches small and micro-organizations serving undocumented, migrant, farmworker, incarcerated, detained, houseless, disabled, refugee, immigrant, multilingual, LGBTQIA+, Native, and low-income communities of color.
The Partnership simultaneously works on the ground meeting needs as well as in the legislature changing systems. We also work to gate-break, building the capacity of our communities and serving as a bridge between County and State resources and the folks on the front lines.
The Partnership reaches people from diverse ethnic groups across the County and State, and represents speakers of these languages: Spanish, Hmong, Lao, Khmu, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Khmer, Tagalog, Arabic, Oromo, Fijian, Tongan, Samoan, French, Tigrean, Amharic, Somali
Beginning in response to the inequitable placement of quarantine facilities in low-income, limited English speaking communities of color, the Partnership has grown to become a leader in COVID 19 response work. The Partnership anchors our response to the pandemic in the knowledge that even as our communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, over-represented in cases, deaths, job loss, and income loss, our communities are exceptionally resilient and best equipped to understand what we need.
According to (new and incomplete) data from King County public health officials, people of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, particularly among Latinx, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Black communities. On April 24th 11 of 24 (or 46% of) COVID-19 cases in King County had limited English proficiency, even though communities with limited English proficiency represent 25% of King County’s population, showing the disproportionate affects the virus has on immigrants and refugees.
The Partnership has created a strategy that responds to these disparities and drives five specific categories of work: 1) Power for Communities of Color (Advocacy), 2) Covid-19 Rapid Response, 3) Network and Communications, 4) Anti-Hate and Bias Advocacy, Systems and Reporting, and 5) Digital Equity Co-Hort.
To date, the Partnership has: led calls with key State and County decision-makers to advocate for rent, income, and food assistance for our communities; established weekly meetings with the Governor’s Office advocating for technology and internet access for our kids, pulled together county Chief of Staff joint meetings with PIC, assistance for undocumented communities, and other key policy priorities; organized public meetings with State Superintendent Chris Reykdal; and partnered with Attorney General’s Office to address hate and bias crimes, particularly against our AAPI communities.
The Partnership Accomplishments:
● Established food and rental assistance programs for undocumented, immigrant, refugee, and low-income communities of color;
● Disbursed masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to our communities, particularly equipment made by immigrant and refugee seamstresses;
● Offered translated public health information in 60+ languages;
● Financial support for small and micro-nonprofit community organizations to have resources and infrastructure to respond to the needs and take care of our community members during this current and future emergencies;
● Led and ensuring the equity and racial justice frameworks within public health; Mapping out technology, hardware, and internet desserts throughout the state;
● Mapped cultural, ethnic, and linguistic assets of CBOs statewide to facilitate engagement with government agencies;
● Ensured kids have the necessary technology and internet connection needed to continue their virtual education;
● Increased advocacy presence at all levels of government to propose and guide ongoing and future response to current and future emergencies;
● Fought Proud Boys and White Supremacy through forums, advocacy and education;
● Partnered with Virginia Mason, Highline College, Green River College, and City of Seattle to help vaccinate 1000 people;
● Held Candidate forum for King County Executive Race, King County Council District 5 Race, and City of Seattle Mayoral Race;
● Through Healthcare Authority’s WA Listens Program – Created and deployed Race, Social Justice and Mental Health training for the departments and program and Increased representation of BIPOC voices and values; and
● Increased capacity building and infrastructure for grassroots CBOs of color.
● $5M for revolving funds from King County Officer of Performance, Budget, and Strategy;
● $1.75M for Covid-19 outreach & messaging through County Council Covid budget;
● $187K for WA Listens, Healthcare Authority Program;
● $250K for Covid Response from Seattle Foundation;
● $596K for Food Security Assistance Program;
● $1M for Digital Equity work from CARES; and
● $6M for WA State Broadband.
Legislative Advocacy the Partnership advocated for and supported:
● City of Seattle Jump Start Seattle;
● King County Strategic Climate Action Plan;
● Covid-19 Response Funding;
● WA State’s Digital Equity and Broadband;
● Eviction Moratorium (and extensions);
● Creating of a Public Bank;
● Working Families Tax Credit;
● Excise Tax on Annual Compensation in Excess of $1M;
● Federal H4/EAD Application by USCIS; and
● HR to Halt Deportations of Cambodian Americans.
Confirmed Cases By County
Comparing confirmed COVID-19 cases and our state’s most diverse geographies, it is apparent that major investments in communities of color are critical to mitigating the public health, economic, and social effects of this pandemic. Data is from WA DOH (Left) and US Census (Below)
Latinx/Hispanic (as % of the population)
Black/African American (as % of the population) Asian (as % of the population)