South Sound Together recently granted $60,000 to three area organizations’ efforts to promote justice, equality, educational and political engagement opportunities, especially for youths and young adults. The three groups — the Institute for Black Justice, Palmer Scholars and Politics of the Possible in Action — were each given $20,000 to pursue a project that promoted their organizations’ goals.

The Institute for Black Justice (IBJ), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose goal is equity and justice for all, with people of Black/African descent as its priority, has three main areas of service: communications and education; advocacy and support for families in the justice system; and leadership development to promote anti-racism and social justice leadership.  

The IBJ is using its grant to stage the Freedom Summer Symposium, a three-day social justice experience designed for 18- to 35-year-olds, social justice advocates and aspiring leaders.  The theme of the virtual event is, “Good Trouble; Necessary Trouble: Reconstructing the Dream of True Justice.” The group has lined up several guest speakers of local and national renown, including Dr. Conrad Webster of Black Boys Heal and Seattle Public School District; the Rev. Lennox Yearwood of Hip Hop Caucus; Justice G. Helen Whitener of the Washington Supreme Court; and Democratic U.S. Rep. Marilyn Strickland.   

IBJ is joining with the University of Washington Tacoma to produce a social justice “Design Challenge.” Up to 30 young adults will be asked to solve a vexing social justice matter. The designers will present their findings to an audience on the final day of the symposium.  

The South Sound Together grant will cover the cost of $500 stipends for each of the designers, and speaker and performer honorariums, food cards, swag bags and technical support. Find more info on how to participate in the symposium here.  

Palmer Scholars is a postsecondary development program created in 1987. The Tacoma-based organization helps economically disadvantaged young adults of color in Pierce County identify their best path to travel after high school, whether it be an apprenticeship or a two- or four-year degree, and provides comprehensive services through completion. Palmer Scholars’ services include postsecondary readiness training, one-to-one mentoring, scholarships and financial support, career-connected learning and ongoing socioemotional support services.

The organization’s mission is to support underrepresented Pierce County students of color so they can overcome any financial, cultural or social barriers in their pursuit of higher education.

Palmer Scholars will use the grant money from South Sound Together to create an online networking and events platform, Palmer Connections. Through the platform, young Pierce County adults will have access to a private online network that can connect them with other young leaders on matters of civic engagement. They’ll also be able to receive mentoring from vetted adult leaders in the community. The grant will support a youth intern who will head up the work and convene an advisory board of other youth leaders to shape the direction that Palmer Connections will take.

Politics of the Possible in Action (PPA) is a nonpartisan, 501(c) designated nonprofit that builds community engagement, enhances civics education, and honors public service. The organization is inspired by the philosophies, examples and commitment of Mary Ellen McCaffree, a four-term Washington state representative and community activist who told her story in her book, “Politics of the Possible.”

The South Sound Together grant will support PPA’s Youth Civic Leader Fellowship. This yearlong program strives to break intergenerational inequity in civic engagement by supporting four to six youth leaders from marginalized communities to enhance their advocacy skills and deepen their civic involvement. To address barriers to civic participation, the fellowship will provide financial and emotional support, transportation and access to resources and networks. With a focus on expanding their community’s representation, these youth leaders will craft their own set of experiences to interact with elected officials, participate in city and state legislative processes, and share their experiences, passion and knowledge through interactive peer-to-peer workshops at their local high schools.


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