Seattle Foundation President and CEO Tony Mestres and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan to support immigrant and refugee children in Seattle Public Schools and their families, through counseling and legal services and community education forums aimed at sharing information about immigrant rights and resources.

This effort is the most recent step Seattle Foundation has taken to demonstrate its commitment to equity and opportunity for all those living in Seattle. The announcement is also part of the $250,000 commitment Mayor Murray made reaffirming Seattle's status as a welcoming city and looks to leverage resources from partners in the philanthropic, nonprofit and private sectors.

Seattle Foundation committed Foundation funds to support the partnership and will work to raise additional support from the philanthropic sector.

"Seattle Foundation stands with the City of Seattle in saying that no student, child or young person in our community should live in fear because of their family's race, religion or immigration status," Mestres said. "Many of our residents are wondering how they are going to find a path forward and it is our collective responsibility to ensure there is a place for everyone on our community's path forward and that we do not leave anyone behind, especially our kids."

There are three elements to the plan to be supported with these funds and are as follows:

  1. The Family Unity Project: This effort will consist of community education forums conducted in Seattle Public Schools and other venues where community partners with legal expertise and experience working with immigrant students will offer information on the importance of power of attorney and resources for those in danger of or already in detention. As part of this program, training and technical assistance will be provided to Seattle Public Schools' teachers, counsels and administrations and attorneys from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project will respond to calls from students and parents in danger of being detained.
  2. Counseling and peer support: Using successful counseling and peer support models, middle and high school youth from immigrant and refugee families, including DACA youth and Muslim students, will have access to a support group facilitated by a counselor from a community-based organization trained on the challenges faced by immigrant communities.
  3. Clear avenues for the public to report incidents of bias, hate speech and violence: The public can report incidents to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) by phone, email or web. The online reporting form includes a feature allowing residents to upload photos as a part of their complaint and can be used to quickly document and report vandalism or other incidents. OCR's Intake Investigator will review all complains and if the incident is a crime, it will be referred to SPD. If the incident is related to immigration or other issues, OCR will refer to the appropriate government office or community organization.

Learn more about the Seattle United for Immigrant and Refugee Families Fund at Seattle Foundation.