Disproportionally high rates of unemployment. A low-wage job market with racial discrimination. High cost of living. These barriers to economic security have long existed for Black Washingtonians, but in recent years have taken on new forms. A staggering 21% unemployment rate peaked in 2010 and remains high today, while studies show that Black job applicants are less likely to get hired even with a college degree. The release of a new study, “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”, uncovers this startling research and much more. The study also identifies multiple solutions for improving opportunities for Blacks in our state. Download the Economic Security excerpt from the study, attend an upcoming webinar, and learn how you can help us start the conversation to strengthen our state’s economic and civic future by visiting http://www.BlacksWA.org.

We are thrilled to announce the release of a new study: “Creating an Equitable Future for Black Washingtonians”. About a year ago Byrd Barr Place formed a coalition which commissioned this report to research the major ways our social, economic, and political systems in Washington State intertwine to create barriers that impede progress within the Black community. The report identifies multiple solutions for improving opportunities for Blacks in our state. These solutions would not only help to improve the well-being of Blacks as individuals and as communities, but they would also serve to strengthen our state’s economic and civic future. Visit http://www.BlacksWA.org to learn more about the research findings, how this report can help our community, and how you can get involved.

We have one thing to say…and that is thank you to all of the generous people and groups who supported our Groupon Grassroots campaign that ran from July 31 – August 7 to raise support for the kids in Byrd Barr Place’s Food Bank. Your generous donations helped us raise $2,674 to provide 764 sack lunches for Byrd Barr Place kids! This community effort also helped promote awareness of Byrd Barr Place’s mission and will get us loads of smiles from happy children. Thank you!

A true “child of the 60s,” 72-year-old Lorraine Campbell is a warm, upbeat, free-spirited woman with a wealth of life experience. She is a three-time cancer survivor. She’s also a published author, and is currently working on a memoir which she hopes to fund through an Artist Trust Fellowship. Yet despite living life to the fullest, Lorraine can barely afford to eat. She lives on only $710 a month in Supplemental Security Income with $100 a month in food stamps. She can afford to spend $1 on each meal. (more…)

School’s out, and one long sunny day stretches into another…but for many low-income families that rely on the free and reduced-price lunFB cover_during_v2ch program during the school year, the summer months can increase their food insecurity. For the kids in our community, this should be a time for playing outside, not worrying about their next meal. You can help! For just $7, you can support our Groupon Grassroots campaign and help our Food Bank provide sack lunches to kids this summer.


Evelyn is one of those people who fall through the holes in America’s “safety net.”  Working for many years in an accounting office, Evelyn was laid off in May 2013.  Suddenly without a job, Evelyn struggled to find work in order to support herself and her ten year-old daughter, Angellynn.  Unemployment pay helped her and Angellynn manage during the summer of 2013 as Evelyn applied for job after job, only to get turned down time after time.  Without a degree in accounting, nobody wanted to hire her, so Evelyn decided she needed to return to school to get her degree.

Studying, still looking for work, and trying to scrape together enough to keep her and her daughter housed and fed, Evelyn’s utility bill came last on her long list of obligations.  Because Evelyn had a moderately well-paying job before being laid off, on unemployment she and her daughter just barely don’t qualify for food stamps or housing subsidies.  Evelyn is completely on her own, paying full-price for food, market-rate rent for the small house she leases in Southeast Seattle, clearly struggling to keep her head above water, but “making too much” to qualify for most assistance programs.

Eventually Seattle City Light came looking for their payment from Evelyn, less than a month after the United States Congress ended emergency unemployment benefits, and drastically reduced others for 1.3 million Americans.  For Evelyn, the unemployment cut hit like “a kick in the butt,” but not a motivating one.  This cut acted as another punishment for Evelyn, a single-mother trying to help herself and her daughter reach self-sufficiency.  Facing an emergency shut-off notice from Seattle City Light, Evelyn found out that once again she “made too much” to qualify for assistance from Byrd Barr Place’s federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, when anonymous donors from Byrd Barr Place’s Bridge the Gap Campaign stepped in.  $500 from Bridge the Gap literally bridged the gap for Evelyn and Angellynn, for once closing the arbitrary chasm that exists between those who “qualify” for public benefits and those who don’t.  For Evelyn, it was a moment of grace.

“I want to say thank you very much.  I so appreciate it,” Evelyn said recently, when asked what she would like to say to the donors who made this possible. “I don’t know how we would have made it without you.”

Byrd Barr Place works hard to provide nearly 10,000 Seattle households with grants to maintain their heat in the winter, but sometimes that grant isn’t enough to prevent a disconnection. Private funds through Byrd Barr Place’s Bridge the Gap Campaign can help these families hit by hard times find some comfort during the cold, wet Seattle winter, literally bridging the gap between Byrd Barr Place’s grant and the amount they need to maintain their power. Find out how you can help change a life today.