Back in the fall of 2019, the Communities of Color Coalition (C3) made the initial transition from a volunteer based non-profit to an operational one by hiring their first Executive Director, jacque julien. Shortly after her arrival, the COVID-19 pandemic made its appearance. Primarily an advocacy organization focused on systemic change, C3 quickly responded to the emergent needs of communities dealing with the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism. That responsiveness and pivoting has led to the organization now staffing 17 employees and serving upwards of 2,500 Washington families annually.
“The pandemic exposed the inequities in our systems that have always been there. We’ve had to add to pivot from primarily advocacy efforts to also providing direct service” says Ben Young, a retired Snohomish County Government employee who now volunteers upwards of 60 hours a week to C3.
Though providing a plethora of services across and beyond the state, we’ve listed some of the many ways C3 continues to address community needs in their pursuit to create systemic change.
10 Ways C3 Addresses Systemic Inequities & Emergent Needs in Snohomish County
- Rental Assistance: In partnership with Volunteers of America (VOA), the City of Edmonds, and the City of Lynnwood, C3 staff support Snohomish County renters maintain their housing by providing rental relief for those directly affected by COVID-19.
- Produce Pantry: By partnering with Modest Family Solutions, C3 has been providing over 11,000 pounds of fresh produce weekly sourced from local farmers throughout Washington. Deliveries are made weekly on Thursday afternoons at 23921 Highway 99, Edmonds, WA 98026.
- North Puget Sound Conference on Race: An annual event, C3 provides the largest free race conference in the Pacific Northwest. This year, the conference will be held virtually on the theme of Just Wellness: Re-Emergence as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) featuring keynote speakers Dr. Edwin Lindo and Christian Paige.
- North Sound Indigenous Futurity Alliance: A regional collective effort with C3 staff and North Sound Accountable Community Heath partners, this group has grown and evolved into its own entity led by and for indigenous youth. A space dedicated to ensuring youth voices have the agency to shape and influence their own lives for years to come. The group hosts their annual event, the Indigenous Youth & Young Leaders Conference.
- Pre-Apprenticeship Program: In partnership with Sound Transit, Edmonds Community Alliance, and Workforce Snohomish, C3 supports BIPOC in pursuing trade and technical programs through this opportunity which provides the necessary skills and training to engage a new or emerging career pursuit.
- Health & Wellness: C3 provides a variety of programs that center BIPOC prosperity, including the distribution of wellness kits through partnership with Verdant Health Commission and providing the Keeping It Cool art workshops where Dalisha Phillips, LMHCA guides and support participants in creating a more aligned and happier sense of self.
- Health Care Advocacy: In alliance with 17 other organizations, C3 is a partner in one of the largest efforts to provide accessible COVID-19 vaccinations in Snohomish County while specifically focusing on providing the service to those most at risk of harm caused by the virus. Additionally, C3 has partnered with Snohomish Health District to address health literacy across the county and with Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center to raise awareness about the disproportionate effects of prostate cancer in Black men though a research study.
- Community Events: C3 continues to be a primary sponsor of prominent BIPOC events throughout the county, including Nubian Jam which is hosted annually in the summer and the convener for the first, ever, first annual Executive Luncheon for Black Women. These spaces help foster solidarity for BIPOC while increasing that prosperity C3 seeks for their communities.
- Education: As a critical player as to how the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Act (PSTAA) funding is distributed, C3 ensures decisions are determined in an equitable and intentional way which prioritizes those who are often overlooked or not considered. Additionally, they encourage grassroots organizing in partnership with the City of Marysville to provide the Marysville Youth Advocacy Committee where students have the opportunity to be change-agents and disruptors from a young age.
- Governance: Alongside 18 other organizations, C3 participated in promoting the 2020 Census to educate communities about the importance of having your voice heard and be represented. They’ve also been instrumental in leading legislative efforts to eliminate youth homelessness throughout the state by ensuring the voices of lived experts can share their experience to inform and guide systemic change.
While the organization has pivoted to include both direct service and advocacy work, the non-profit remains aware of the harm caused by the non-profit industrial complex and continued to advocate for systems change which eliminated the need for themselves.
“Out goal is to be transformative, not transactional,” Young adds. “We listen for what community is asking for and then produce a response, not the other way around.” For more information about the grassroots efforts which foster these transformative relationships which allow BIPOC to thrive, not survive, please visit c3coalition.org.