Our vision is to advance equity and justice for all through whole person health.
Our work is informed by the adverse impacts disproportionately borne by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other marginalized communities in our region. Our 13 branches recently engaged with their local communities to establish a continuous learning approach to understanding their evolving priorities and key community needs. Disparity is deeply rooted in many of our systems, manifesting as barriers to equitable outcomes that disproportionality affect marginalized communities. In our research, youth & teen programming, community gathering places, healthcare and behavioral health surfaced as current priorities for a majority of the communities we serve.
To break cycles of disparity and inequalities, the Y, with community partners, is approaching several of the most pressing issues with intentional and targeted strategies to support BIPOC youth, older adults, and other marginalized communities.
We are a community of youth and diversity. In 2019, there were 2.3 million people in King County, or one in five, under the age of 18. One in four residents who call our region home are foreign-born, with 28% speaking another language than English. In the coming years we are expected to rapidly become more diverse. Taken as a whole, it presents many opportunities to support, empower and help our communities engage with each other and own a stake in their future. Together, we can improve education, fight poverty, address housing and homelessness, create greater access to health care, and so much more.
Structural and environmental racism are contributors to elevated rates of chronic conditions for communities of color, including higher rates of asthma, diabetes, and obesity. While one in five U.S. adults experiences some type of mental illness or distress in a given year, people of color are more likely to experience depression and other mental issues. Even prior to the pandemic, low-income adults, who are more likely to be people of color, were 15 times more likely to experience psychological distress as compared to high-income adults. Everyone deserves care and to feel safe and supported.
Our region continues to experience one of the highest rates of homelessness in the nation. On any given night, there are 12,000 individuals struggling with housing security for themselves or their family. BIPOC residents comprise the disproportionate share of this population. Although people of color make up 19% of King County residents, they make up 60% of the people experiencing homelessness in our communities. Many school-age youth also struggle; in 2019 more than 40,000 students experienced homelessness, 62% of whom are students of color, and 37% of them in high school.
Food insecurity can have some of the biggest impacts on a family, and can be brought on for a variety of reasons. In our region, 28% of residents who applied for Basic Food assistance identified as Black / African American, while representing only 7% of the population. Food insecurity disproportionately impacts BIPOC communities and can lead to a number of adverse health issues, including obesity, diabetes, low-birth weight, depression, and anxiety. Amid the pandemic, the risk of food insecurity and these effects and vulnerabilities have exponentially increased as a result of loss of work and wages.
Factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and English proficiency are drivers of opportunity for people of all ages. For children these factors can have larger impacts on lifelong success. Early education and Pre-K access is one major way to bring greater equity to learning and future success. In our region, 51% of white children enter school kindergarten-ready as compared to 40% of Black children, and 30% of Latino, American Indian/Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Island children. This disparity ripples into adulthood with graduation rates for students of color lagging behind those of their white peers.
The pandemic forced schools to shutter to be replaced by remote learning, and students have experienced learning loss. For students of color this loss is exacerbated by a lack of broadband access, available support at home due to working parents, and/or economic and housing instability. Today, it is estimated that students of color are three to five months behind in learning, as compared to their white counterparts who lost one to three months. Across King County, 20% of low-income households, those earning under $29,500 per year, have access to broadband. This gap in connectivity produces systemic disadvantage in education, health care, access to government services, the job market, and civic and cultural engagement.
Sparked by a national reckoning with race, systemic barriers and the treatment by our institutions of BIPOC communities is under a long overdue examination. In King County, Black people are seven times more likely, and Native Americans are three times as likely, to be incarcerated than white individuals, both figures that do not reflect the demographics of our region. On the other side of the law, hate violence perpetuated against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, BIPOC, and other communities based on gender identity and sexual orientation, rose both nationally and regionally in recent years. Washington State is today the third highest state for reported hate violence.
Join us in this critical work to advance equity and justice for all.
We need your partnership and support as we work to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to develop their fullest potential in spirit, mind, and body.
Volunteering at the Y is a rewarding and fun way to start advancing equity and justice for all. There are many ways to contribute, no matter the interests or schedules.
You can help empower youth through self-education, advocacy campaigns, sharing knowledge, writing civic leaders, and helping reach out to youth who are in need.
Work for the Y and you'll lift up community while doing work that matters alongside amazing, driven, and passionate Y staff and volunteers. Apply today!
Whether it’s your time, talents or investment, there are many ways to help your community through the Y. When you give to the Y you make a difference in the lives of people from all backgrounds and economic levels.
Many hands help community at the Y, from staff who counsel youth experiencing homelessness, and volunteers who help give out meals, to donors who empower the Y to reach more people in need. Learn more about your impact as a Y supporter.
With a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, improving health and well-being, and supporting our neighbors, your membership will not just bring about meaningful change in yourself, but also in your community.