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DEEL Invests $1.5 Million to Advance Youth Leadership and Cultural Education

The Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) announced awards totaling $1.5 million to support the leadership and cultural education of more than 1,500 Black, Indigenous, immigrant, refugee, and youth of color in Seattle.


Bruce Harrell, Mayor 

Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director 


Tuesday, June 28  

Contact: Kamaria Hightower,, 206.677.1282   

DEEL Invests $1.5 Million to Advance Youth Leadership and Cultural Education

SEATTLE (June 28) – The Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) announced awards totaling $1.5 million to support the leadership and cultural education of more than 1,500 Black, Indigenous, immigrant, refugee, and youth of color in Seattle. Building on recommendations from the Equitable Communities Initiative, DEEL’s Youth Leadership & Cultural Education investment expands access to educational settings that celebrate culture, inspire authentic personal development, and build leadership skills. Eleven organizations were approved for grants of up to $150,000; seven are first-time DEEL grant recipients. 

“Every young person deserves the opportunity to learn and grow in safe spaces that nurture their sense of self and celebrate their identity and lived experiences. By expanding access to supportive learning environments with meaningful programs and enrichment activities, we take another step towards ensuring our city is for everyone,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Congratulations to the organizations awarded today. They join an esteemed group of leaders elevating community-led strategies that result in healthy and confident students and a thriving One Seattle.” 

The eleven community-based organizations (CBOs) awarded funding will offer a range of programs, including world languages, mentorship, study abroad, entrepreneurship, science, and art. The programs are rooted in activities that build on individual strengths and promote wellness, inclusivity, and cultural pride. Programs will serve Black, Indigenous, immigrant, refugee, LGBTQ+, and foster youth of color ages 5-24, whose inherent strengths are historically overlooked within the education system. Programming will begin as soon as September 2022 with potential to run through December 2023.   

“As chair of the Education Committee and the representative for District 2, I am happy to see this investment into our youth and community organizations at this critical time” said Councilmember Tammy Morales (District 2 / South Seattle and the C/ID). “This funding will go towards ensuring our young people are given the opportunities for community building and mentorship. We as a City must do what we can to bolster youth mental health and wellbeing; I look forward to future partnerships with DEEL to expand the pool of resources we are able to provide to community-based organizations that are doing this work.” 

“To build a better future for all Seattle students, we must center the voice of our communities and young people in how we invest in their education and future. This grant included youth and community input from the initial planning stage through the evaluation process,” said Dr. Dwane Chappelle, Director of DEEL. “DEEL is proud to invest in community-driven solutions that we know will have a positive impact on student success.”   

In response to community requests to engage in the design and development of the RFI process, DEEL held focus groups and listening sessions with impacted youth who also helped conduct outreach to CBOs ensuring a broad applicant pool. Proposal evaluations were led by a 30-member panel including 29 Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other people of color—21 youth and eight adults—and one DEEL staff member. 

First-time grant recipient, Hip Hop is Green, will provide paid internships focusing on social justice, health equity, food security and climate change curriculum by engaging youth in an urban farm community hub, documentary film screenings, field trips and STEM learning. Executive Director Keith Tucker shared, “Our Youth Excellence Program creates opportunities for young people to become impactful leaders through fun, project-based learning grounded in hip hop. Through caring mentorship and a safe culturally relevant healing space, our program provides youth with positive social-emotional development, new friendships, and personal growth.”  

Jordan Goldwarg, Executive Director of OneWorld Now!, another first-time partner, stated, “OneWorld Now is thrilled to receive DEEL’s Youth Leadership and Cultural Education funds. This support allows us to expand leadership programming for high school students, providing them with a strong sense of personal agency and opportunities to develop advocacy skills to support a more equitable society. It will also allow us to provide a range of new supports to students and families that will ensure their success in our program.”   

Former contributor to the Equitable Communities Initiative and current President and CEO of the Northwest African American Museum, LaNesha DeBardelaben, shared, “The City of Seattle’s 2022 DEEL investment into the cultural education of our local youth is essential. These funds will be used to build young people’s sense of identity and belonging as well as their cultural awareness and rootedness. The organizations receiving funds offer culturally responsive programs that will result in the greater wellbeing of youth. When our youth are well, our communities can thrive.”  

In the coming weeks, DEEL will announce additional awards supporting professional development for aspiring educators of color developing pathways and strategies that assist youth in overcoming the impact of systemic inequities and building on and strengthening their innate skills. 

The full list of Youth Leadership and Cultural Education funds recipients are listed below:  

*First time award recipient of DEEL funding  

The City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning’s mission is to transform the lives of Seattle children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education. 

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