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Eight Community-Led Environmental Projects Launch with Port Grants

New environmental grants program doubles number of South King County cities served and leads with environmental justice 
September 3, 2020

Eight organizations, serving the near-airport communities of Burien, Des Moines and SeaTac will be the recipients of the sixth and final round of funding under the Port of Seattle’s Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund. The projects include a few past grant recipients and several new organizations providing environmental improvements in communities near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Launched in 2016 by the Port Commission, ACE provided 42 community groups with over $360,000 in small matching grants to conduct environmental improvement projects in public spaces near SEA. The projects are nearly as diverse as the communities they serve, with programs designed to restore native habitat, educate youth about environment and sustainability issues, and build and improve green stormwater infrastructure to decrease pollution.

“I’m very proud of the environmental and educational programs airport neighbors created with grants from the ACE Fund that enhanced parks, gardens, marine stewardship and community,” said Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Fred Felleman.

"SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation and Research (SR3) depends on community support to rescue and protect marine animals,” said Casey Mclean, Executive Director and Veterinary Nurse. “With these funds, we will reach hundreds of residents with messages about protecting local marine health, prevent more animals from ever needing our help, and remove hundreds of pounds of garbage from the Des Moines waterfront. The health of marine wildlife is closely linked with our own. SR3 is so grateful for this ACE funding that is helping create a healthier future for us all!"

Eight organizations will receive a total of over $75,900 in ACE Fund grants in the sixth and final round of the program, including:

  • Diamonds in the Rough Foundation will work with Des Moines area youth to film and build a virtual reality (VR) tour of the Hoh Rainforest. This experience, along with an introductory overview of Green Jobs opportunities in South King County will be on display in public libraries.
  • SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation and Research (SR3) will deliver action-oriented messaging around marine conservation at community events in Des Moines and host an underwater and beach cleanup event to remove an estimated 400 pounds of marine debris.
  • Washington Green Schools will expand the Stormwater Stewards program into Highline Schools, providing hand-on science education for teachers and students. Participants will learn about the impact of stormwater pollution and students will design, construct, and install up to ten “rain gardens in a box.”
  • Zero Waste Washington will conduct a litter assessment in Burien and cleanups of public spaces downtown and provide in-language technical assistance to help businesses transition to compostable food service ware.
  • Discover Burien will make improvements to 153rd St in Burien by adding planters and street trees, restriping the street, and lowering signs to create space and visual appeal for shoppers.
  • Friends of Kiddie City Park will install a water fountain and two picnic tables at Des Moines Kiddie City Park. They will also lead volunteer work parties to remove invasive plants and replant natives at the park.
  • ECOSS will conduct rain garden maintenance at Sylvester Middle School and provide in-language water pollution education to multicultural residents of Burien.
  • Weed Warriors will educate residents about healthy garden environments that are beneficial to humans and wildlife through a series of hands-on activities, and online and in-person cleanups. Additionally, volunteers will improve a local park or garden by removing invasive weeds and planting native plants.

“The Port of Seattle’s ACE award is an opportunity to enhance and restructure a part of Burien dubbed a ‘sea of asphalt’ along SW 153rd Street and make way for improvements that will last generations,” said Discover Burien Executive Director Debra George. “Businessowners and the community look forward to how these improvements will make the street more inviting, inclusive, and safe to visit, work and play.”

Explore a full list of projects that received ACE grants.

Port introduces new environmental grants program

Communities in South King County experience disproportionate environmental impacts due to a long history of inequitable land use practices and economic displacement that pushed marginalized communities farther and farther south. Compounded by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on low-income and communities of color, there is a stronger than ever need for investment in South King County, where residents have less access to parks and green space than in the rest of the County.

To address this need, the Port of Seattle created a new South King County Environmental Grants Program. Supported by the South King County Fund, new program expands the mission that began with the ACE Fund to reach a total of six near-Port communities: Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Normandy Park, SeaTac and Tukwila with small matching grants up to $20,000. Community-led groups can apply for South King County Environmental Grants beginning this fall.

“Near-airport communities are some of the most diverse in King County and it is time that we expanded our successful environmental grants program to better serve their needs,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck.

The grant eligibility criteria are similar to the highly successful ACE Fund program, where community groups and non-profits can apply for grants to improve the environment. Projects must take place on public property and demonstrate a 3:1 match.

Over the course of the summer the Port has conduct outreach to multicultural communities across the region to share information about the fund and to help communities develop project ideas. This outreach was conducted in-language by a group of grassroots community liaisons, led by Alma Villegas Consulting. The Port learned over the past three years operating the ACE Fund that the ideas of “environment” and “sense of place” vary greatly across cultures and is much broader than the traditional western environmentalist view that focuses on tree planting and habitat restoration.

Through this deep, multicultural engagement, the Port hopes to center the voices and priorities of communities often left out of land use planning and decisions that impact their communities.

The Port is currently developing the grant materials and expects to launch a Request for Proposals in mid-September.


Perry Cooper | SEA Airport
(206) 787-4923 |

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