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Travel restrictions are extended as Delta variant surges; some public-sector employers will mandate vaccines; President Biden says long-haul COVID could be considered a disability; and western wildfires rage.

WA Groups Get $500,000 for Racial-Equity Work


Wednesday, March 10, 2021   

SEATTLE - Racial-equity groups working in Washington state are getting a big boost to their funding.

Kaiser Permanente is making a total of $500,000 in grants to four nonprofits in the Evergreen State to help them address systemic racism.

Andrea Caupain Sanderson, chief executive of Byrd Barr Place, a community-based group helping improve health outcomes for Black Washingtonians in the Puget Sound area, said people are listening to these concerns, such as the shortened average lifespan for Black Americans, especially since last summer's racial reckoning.

"You have cross-sectors - whether it's government, medical institutions or grassroots organizations and just community individuals - who are now interested in collaborating and working together to solve some of these issues in our Black communities," she said.

Other grant recipients are the Black Education Strategy Roundtable, Africatown Community Land Trust and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, which is partnering with the Tacoma Urban League.

Sanderson said her organization has been studying some of the health gaps for Black Washingtonians, both in urban and rural areas. They're now looking into solutions that could address these gaps. She said another issue involves health coverage.

"We need to look at how the insurance industry possess certain obstacles to achieving culturally appropriate, but also quality, care for Black folks," she said.

The Byrd Barr Place research involves speaking directly with people in the community. Sanderson said this is where answers for addressing health disparities need to come from, instead of "from the top down."

"If we're going to be designing solutions that will impact people on the ground, I think we need to be doing it early on," she said, "and this is our opportunity to do that."

The grants are part of a $25 million investment nationwide from Kaiser Permanente to address systemic racism and its effects.

Disclosure: Kaiser Health Plan of Washington Project contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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