Strong People. Strong Communities.

Byrd Barr Place nurtures a more equitable Seattle through programs and advocacy that enable people to live healthier, prosperous lives. Our programs help Seattle residents with basic human services—a warm home, food on the table, and immediate financial relief—so they can break the cycle of poverty and build self-sufficiency.

For 50 years, Byrd Barr Place has provided essential human services to Seattle residents who are struggling to make ends meet, most of whom live at 150% or more below the federal poverty level. Our clients come from all parts of the city with varied social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. They include refugees and immigrants, as well as the elderly and disabled. Our programs include housing and energy assistance, healthy food, and personal finance programming, with special attention given to emergency situations, such as power shutoff and eviction.

Formerly the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP), we are one of Washington’s oldest community organizations, founded in the era of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. In 1979, we joined the Washington State Community Action Program, a network of 31 agencies in 39 counties that has partnered to improve the lives of low-income people throughout the state. Today, Byrd Barr Place’s programs and services help more than 20,000 people a year.

To ensure our programs and services are effective and meet the needs of the community, we periodically complete a citywide community needs assessment. These survey results allow us to align our strategic plan to the services most valued by Seattle residents. At the same time, we work closely with the Washington State Community Action Partnership to identify statewide issues, as well as social and economic trends, so that we can respond to the most critical issues affecting those who are poor in our city.

About Roberta Byrd Barr

Roberta Byrd Barr

Photo: Douglass-Truth Library

Roberta Byrd Barr was a community leader, an educator, and a journalist. She was a passionate advocate, standing up for what was right and elevating the voices of the Black community, the poor and others.

When Seattle teachers boycotted and demanded desegregation in 1966, Roberta Byrd Barr was in the ranks and headed the Freedom School at the YMCA. In 1973, she became Seattle’s first woman high school principal, leading Lincoln High School.

Roberta Byrd Barr was a well-known and engaged member of the community. She woke up the city to the civil rights movement, hosting “Face to Face,” a provocative television show featuring discussions on race, desegregation, education, and welfare. She also edited CAMP’s monthly newsletter, Trumpet, which kept residents up to date about issues and programs of importance to Black people and across the city.

Her commitment to community, fairness and opportunity are values that we share—as CAMP, Centerstone and now Byrd Barr Place.

In 2017, we updated our strategic plan, continuing our commitment to helping people help themselves through direct services and through collective efforts that will build a more prosperous Seattle for all. We aim to honor Roberta Byrd Barr’s legacy—and the legacy of countless others—through our ongoing work to advocate for and support the self-sufficiency of people throughout Seattle and beyond.

Our History

We began as the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) in 1964. Our focus was and continues to be about helping people move from poverty to self-sufficiency, and building the Black community’s political strength and economic wealth within Seattle.

2018: Centerstone officially becomes Byrd Barr Place, carrying on the legacy of legendary civil rights leader, educator, and journalist Roberta Byrd Barr.
2017: We release “Voices Rising,” exploring contributing factors to the racial wealth gap in Seattle and King County. The study was conducted in collaboration with Africatown, Seattle King County NAACP, Skyway Solutions, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and Washington State Commission on African American Affairs.
2015: We release a monumental study “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians” by a coalition of Centerstone, Washington Commission on African American Affairs, and African American Leadership Forum. Research reveals the current data for social, economic, and political systems in Washington State that intertwine to create barriers and impede progress within the Black community.
2014: Centerstone celebrates its 50-year anniversary of fighting poverty and creating opportunity for people throughout Seattle. Download our report to the community, “Resilience.”
2012: CAMP changes its name to Centerstone, a name that embraces its history in the community and demonstrates how the organization supports people of all cultures access help through food, housing assistance, energy assistance, and education.
2009 – 2011: The organization initiates a three-year Work Plan to broaden CAMP’s mission, strengthen funding and offer important new programs to the Central Area and beyond.
1990 – 2008: CAMP continues to meet the basic needs of the poor, focusing on advocacy and programs to help better the community.
1980 – 1990: CAMP’s programs expand to address the growing problem of gang violence related to the spread of drug trafficking. Still committed to fighting poverty, CAMP develops initiatives, such as the home energy assistance program, homelessness support, and various projects to aid self-help and economic development.
1979: CAMP joins the Washington State Community Action Program, a statewide organization of 31 agencies in 39 counties to provide vital human services to low-income individuals, families and those in need.
1974 – 1978: CAMP responds to the shift in the African American population from the Central District into the Rainier Valley by opening an annex and extending its services into Southeast Seattle.
1971 – 1973: The federal government designates the Model City Program and Concentrated Employment Program (CEP) as the primary vehicles for combating inner-city poverty. CAMP, headquartered in a former firehouse across the street from the Seattle Model City Program, became deeply involved in these programs.
1966 – 1970: CAMP flourishes during the Seattle Civil Rights Movement. The organization grows to over 300 employees in the summer of 1967 with hundreds of volunteers. CAMP launches over 25 pioneering community service initiatives, including an array of employment and training programs for the poor. Through its programs, CAMP develops a broad network of cooperative community groups.
1965: The first three staff members are hired.
1964: Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP) is founded as part of the first generation of community-inspired organizations funded by the Economic Opportunity Act. It holds the distinction of being the oldest surviving independent agency launched in that era.