On April 26, 2019, the Satterberg Foundation, Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (The Hutch) convened the first annual Seattle Equity Summit. The Summit was the brainchild of C’Ardiss “CC” Gardner Gleser, program officer at Satterberg. The event intentionally brought together representatives from government, business, nonprofits, foundations and the community to engage in crosssector dialogue about how to improve equity in housing, education and economic mobility for people of color and other marginalized groups.
The day consisted of:
1. A morning keynote by Kiran Ahuja, CEO of Philanthropy Northwest, urging attendees to be bold in their critiques of Seattle’s lack of equity and their actions to improve it
2. A “cross-racial conversation” between Debby Irving, racial justice educator and Shay Stewart-Bouley, executive director of Community Change, Inc., a conversation which transfixed the audience and led to one of the most powerful moments of the day
3. An interview of professor john a. powell, director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society by Rochelle Riley, award-winning journalist, about john’s vision for a world beyond “inclusion”, characterized as “a soft kind of assimilation”, to a world where we all “belong” and “co-create”.
4. A plenary panel called Regional Challenges: What’s Working, What’s Next, moderated by Summit Co-Chair Aiko Bethea, (The Hutch) , and featuring Rahim Rajan (Gates Foundation), Mariko Lockhart (Seattle City Government), Summit Co-Chair Trish Millines Dziko (TAF), Phyllis Turner-Brim (Starbucks) and Edgar Villanueva (Schott Foundation)
5. Three simultaneous panel discussions, one on economic mobility moderated by Brian Stout (independent consultant), one on education moderated by Nikkita Oliver (poet, teacher and activist) and one on housing moderated by Michelle Merriweather (Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle).
6. Three facilitated roundtable discussions, one each on housing, education and economic mobility, where attendees talked together about what they had learned and how they could move forward together. The three groups committed to continuing the work they began at the Summit.
7. A closing plenary featuring a spoken word presentation recapping the event by Aleca Gleser and Nikkita Oliver. The presentation was an original piece, devised in real time at the convening.
Here are the key impacts/themes of the Summit identified to date:
1. The Summit gave attendees a vision of and path to the larger “we”.
2. Seattle is hungry for conversation—and action—around equity.
3. Having intentionally diverse participant and speaker groups—in sector affiliation, race, gender and age—changes the dynamic dramatically.
4. Before attendees can take action to improve equity, they first must confront their own cultural awareness, sensitivity and competence.
5. The interest in continuing the work around housing, education and economic mobility is high.
6. The funders who participated are being inspired to continue the work.
7. Many attendees and speakers are interested in working to change policies, such as the tax code, in Washington State.
8. Attendees noted that housing, education and economic mobility are inextricably linked. It is important to include all of them when developing solutions.