The Central District’s historic Black community-led organization, Centerstone of Seattle, today unveiled a new name: Byrd Barr Place, in honor of Seattle civil rights advocate, educator and journalist, Roberta Byrd Barr.

“Roberta served her neighbors, the community and the city in pursuit of a more just, equitable world,” said Andrea Caupain Sanderson, CEO of Byrd Barr Place. “Our new name is an opportunity for us to re-root ourselves in our history and deepen our commitment to the values that defined us from our beginnings in the Civil Rights era.”

Byrd Barr was a community leader, educator and journalist, best known for hosting Face to Face on KING-TV from 1965-1970. Face to Face shared stories of the Black community and of economic and social inequities impacting families around Seattle. Outside of her work as a journalist, Byrd Barr led marches demanding desegregation and taught at freedom schools serving Black residents in the city. In 1973, she became the first woman to head a Seattle public high school when she served as principal of Lincoln High School.

“Roberta gave so much to this city, and yet her story had remained quietly tucked away,” said Kevin Dawson, Jr., board president of Byrd Barr Place. “I knew that Roberta’s name was right for us the moment I shared it with my daughter – a young, Black woman growing up in Seattle today – and she was immediately hooked. She wanted to know more about this woman who wasn’t afraid of fighting for truth and justice, even when it was daunting.”

Byrd Barr Place was originally founded in1964 as CAMP – the Central Area Motivation Program – and was one of the first community-led organizations funded by the Economic Opportunity Act. Soon after, CAMP was at the heart of the Seattle Civil Rights Movement and had launched over 25 community service initiatives, including employment and training programs. That commitment to building a more prosperous Seattle where all residents, regardless of race or zip code, have access to basic human needs remains central to Byrd Barr Place’s mission.


This winter season, there are people who are faced with tough choices.  Pay the power bill or buy food? Keep the heat on or pay rent? Families need to keep a roof over their heads and to feed their children, and so there really isn’t a choice at all, and they face their power being shut off as a result.

You can keep a family warm this winter by supporting Byrd Barr Place’s Energy Assistance Program, which helps thousands of people across Seattle heat their homes each year by providing them with necessary assistance. For every donation of $75 or more to Byrd Barr Place’s Bridge the Gap program fund, you will receive this beautiful Warm Haus candle, generously produced by Salt House Mercantile in Seattle.

Just make an online donation and select “Bridge the Gap” at checkout, and a candle will be mailed out to you. You can also purchase the candle from Salt House Mercantile in Seattle. It’s the perfect gift to bring light into someone’s life, and warmth into their home.

Through a formal partnership announced recently, Byrd Barr Place is working together with nonprofit organizers Africatown, Black Community Impact Alliance (BCIA), and Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) on equitable development plans in the Central District. One of our first projects: redeveloping the lot that was once home to Liberty Bank, the first black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest.

Our goal is to give a voice to Black residents in Seattle throughout the development of the new building. We want to honor the bank’s legacy, and ensure the building’s ownership reflects the Black community. Earlier this year, Mayor Ed Murray announced plans to work with the community nonprofits to honor the bank’s legacy in the Central District. We are excited to see our community unite to ensure this new development reflects the history and future of our great neighborhood, one that is inclusive of all people.

Our progress on honoring the bank’s legacy, and ensuring the building’s ownership reflects the Black community includes:

  • The four organizations will prioritize renting commercial space to black- and minority-owned businesses at affordable rates.
  • The groups committed to hiring minority-owned subcontractors from within the community to work on the new construction.
  • There are plans for numerous art features that will honor the community and history of Liberty Bank.

The new building, which will begin construction in 2017, will include ground-level retail spaces and five floors—about 115 units—dedicated entirely to affordable studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments. Learn more about this project and let us know what you think!

Have a flair for drama? Byrd Barr Place is partnering with the Seattle Rep Theater to launch Public Works Seattle, a unique program that offers free acting classes to the public! We’ll be offering workshops, classes, and performances to join together people in our community through the arts. All people are welcome. This is your chance to shine! We hope you can join us every Monday starting November 7th from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. Drop-ins are welcome or contact to register. Visit the Public Works Seattle website for more information.

Partnerships and collaborations are vital to the ongoing success of our organization in meeting the diverse needs of the poor in Seattle.  That’s why Byrd Barr Place is currently leading a collaborative partnership or Community of Practice (COP) with Africatown, Seattle King County NAACP, Skyway Solutions, the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs. Together we have launched the African American Financial Capability Initiative to build stronger and broader connections in the local community, and deeper levels of cooperation between agencies supporting the financial needs of Black families in Washington State. By bringing together these organizations and making use of the strengths available both in our organizations and throughout the Black community, our objective is to increase the economic well-being of our community with a newly targeted focus on asset building for the long term.  The fact that these very different agencies that focus on very different aspects of the same problem have agreed to work collectively on a solution is a major step forward in Seattle and King County.

Funded by the Northwest Area Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation, our strategic roadmap includes:

Phase 1 (2016)

  • Build a Community of Practice (COP) for Seattle/King County
  • Hold a series of Listening Sessions
  • Increase the capacity of direct-service agencies
  • Strategic planning for Phases 2 and 3

Phase 2 (January – June 2017)

  • Conduct discovery and design for a Breakthrough Service Model to evaluate and design a new approach to engage Blacks and meet their needs with relevant, impactful programs
  • Create a shared policy agenda with city officials that enables Blacks to earn livable wages (net worth), grow assets, and build generational wealth
  • Continue to build the COP’s strategic leadership skills and connections

Phase 3 (July 2017 – December 2018)

  • Implement the Breakthrough Service Model pilot
  • Track progress and assess outcomes over an 18-month period
  • Continue community engagement and advocacy work
  • Develop the core competencies and relationships within the COP partnership.

This work is critical now, and the African American Financial Capability Initiative is the optimal vehicle to move concepts outlined in the Creating an Equitable Future Report from theory to reality. To learn more or get involved in this project, contact us at

It’s that time of year again! On May 3, you can GiveBIG toByrd Barr Place and your donation will be generously stretched by The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors. By Giving BIG to Byrd Barr Place, you are funding innovative projects we are leading such as:

  • African American Financial Capability Initiative, a coalition of seven African-American-led groups collaborating to strengthen asset-building services, sharpen policy advocacy strategies, and grow leadership capacity to benefit Blacks in Washington.
  • Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan helps to guide commercial development within the Central Area district by retaining the spirit and culture of the Central District by gathering community input on commercial revitalization efforts.
  • Yesler Community Collaborative, which brings together people and resources to support equitable and sustainable community development in Yesler Terrace and in surrounding areas

At Byrd Barr Place, we’re not satisfied with just fixing the issues in our community today. We’re focused on driving innovation and change in our community for tomorrow and beyond. Schedule your May 3 GiveBIG donation today.

We would like to welcome our 3 newest Board members, Michael Majeed with Skyway Solutions, Elisa Waidelich with World Vision, and Terry Easter-Hairston with Skyline Properties. Thanks for bringing your incredible experience, knowledge and skills to help enhance our capabilities and advance our mission!

Byrd Barr Place, in partnership with the Central Area Collaborative, is helping to guide commercial development within the Central Area district. Our goal is to retain the spirit and culture of the Central District by gathering community input on commercial revitalization efforts. The Central Area Collaborative is a group of 8 organizations working to align neighborhood development with community priorities. The project was recently funded by the City of Seattle and includes strategies to help establish and grow small businesses in the area as well as increase job training and social services for special populations in the Central Area.

Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan – Overview

GOAL I:            Align ongoing commercial development in the Central Area with community input.

Strategy 1:          Increase community awareness of opportunities to engage and influence development and land use projects.

  • Create or highlight online tools that help people understand projects happening in the neighborhood.
  • Identify new ways in which people can participate in the land use and design review process.
  • Create Urban Design Framework focused on the business nodes within the Central Area.

Strategy 2:          Make commercial development accountable to community priorities.

  • Convene community residents and stakeholders to identify shared values on economic development.
  • Coordinate with the City to communicate community priorities to City departments (i.e. DPD, DON, OED, etc.).
  • Facilitate a clear path of for small, large, local and national developers to engage with community organizations.
  • Provide incentives for developers to include community priorities in development plans.

Strategy 3:          Identify collaborative leaders willing to serve as liaisons to commercial developers

  • Support dynamic solutions designed to meet the complex and diverse needs of collaborative members.
  • Engage leaders from across diverse interests and expertise to represent the collaborative.
  • Build strong and transparent relationships with commercial developers invested in the Central Area.

GOAL II:           Establish, retain and grow independent, micro, and small businesses in the Central Area.

Strategy 1:          Develop a coordinated marketing strategy for small businesses in the Central Area.

  • Create a comprehensive Central Area brand/identity.
  • Identify replicable, neighborhood collaborative marketing models.
  • Provide marketing support to 10 arts and culturally focused businesses each month.
  • Implement 2-3 unique marketing initiatives within the next two years.

Strategy 2:          Offer technical and professional development support to Central Area business owners.

  • Develop a micro business development strategy.
  • Develop a technical support series for new small business owners.
  • Develop a technical support series for established, small business owners.
  • Increase professional development support for new and established business owners.

Strategy 3:          Provide the financial and technical support needed to make Black business ownership more affordable and accessible in the Central Area.

  • Create and/or adopt a theory of change or logic model focused on creating an equitable and level economic playing field.
  • Secure funds to support a community-based, grant-making program for entrepreneurs.
  • Facilitate strategic relationships with local banks to increase small business loan options.
  • Work with City to develop incentive plans that support entrepreneurs and micro and small businesses.

GOAL III:          Increase job training and social services for special populations living and working in the Central Area.

Strategy 1:          Partner with schools, education institutions, and city departments to identify job training and program needs for special populations.

  • Identify special populations and the social services needed to support job-training effort (e.g. childcare, transportation, low-income housing).
  • Convene service organizations to review current programming and identify gaps in support services.
  • Gather data from the City of Seattle, King County and Seattle Public Schools on special populations living in the Central Area.
  • Create a community-based foundation focused jobs, education, and financial literacy.

Strategy 2:          Identify and partner with local organizations, businesses and financial institutions to support programs and align job training with available and emerging employment opportunities.

  • Engage institutions with established training programs and internship opportunities.
  • Identify opportunities to build better connections to existing programs.
  • Increase businesses owners’ awareness of the pool of trained community members.

GOAL IV:         Develop a thriving, high quality, and educational food ecosystem reflective of the African diaspora.

Strategy 1:          Create the right food production and retail mix for the community.

  • Establish a Central Area Farmer’s Market.
  • Negotiate with the City to secure long-term use of spaces and properties supportive of the community’s food interests (e.g., planting strips, right-of-ways, schools, firehouses, etc.).

Strategy 2:          Practice group economics and investment for spaces and marketing.

  • Create an entity that allows restaurant owners to work as a community in support of one another.
  • Identify a collective economic model supportive of pooling money, securing resources, sharing ideas, and strategic purchasing power.
  • Develop pipeline for small business creation through a centralized innovation HUB.
  • Secure resources to support business creation programs (e.g. Fare Start, SUI).

GOAL V:          Establish the Central Area as an African American arts and cultural center.

Strategy 1:          Partner with the Office of Arts & Culture to establish the Central Area as a cultural arts district.

  • Establish an accessible and inviting “hub” of art facilities within the Central Area.
  • Promote the participation and financial support of artists, arts venues, and cultural events.

Strategy 2:          Develop an ecosystem to support arts and culture based businesses.

  • Identify and prioritize the desired elements of an arts and culture ecosystem.
  • Review zoning codes related to arts and cultural facility development.
  • Provide affordable spaces to support the creation and presentation all forms of arts and culture.

Tax season is just around the corner! If you need advice on how to file your taxes, please stop by Byrd Barr Place to take advantage of our free Tax Preparation services now through April. You can meet with our specialist on Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00 – 5:00 pm or call (206) 812-4940 to make an appointment. We can help you file electronically using our tax preparation software or answer questions you may have. For more complex tax returns, we can help prep your taxes in coordination with a United Way certified tax specialist.