WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) submitted a Community Project Funding request of $1,000,000 for the Youth Achievement Center (YAC), Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT) in Columbia City, Seattle, Wash. to the House Appropriations Committee.

“These funds, if awarded, will go toward the development of a first of its kind Youth Achievement Center that will provide immediate services and intervention to the youth of South Seattle and King County. Many of these young people face many insurmountable challenges that can be alleviated if there is early intervention in their lives. YAC hopes to achieve that goal by creating over 90 units of permanently affordable housing, along with wrap around services to assist and provide a safety net for this vulnerable population, allowing them better short- and long-term outcomes. Our partners are excited as well, as this is the first step in the culmination of a long-held dream to create this center by our coalition.” – Youth Achievement Center, Africatown Community Land Trust

“The Youth Achievement Center came out of lots of young people coming together through organizations like Creative Justice and Community Passageways and telling us what they most need in South Seattle is housing and services for young people,” said Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. “Seeing the energy and advocacy of the youth from my community inspired me to give my full support to the YAC as a King County Councilmember.”

“We started a program called the Youth Consortium,” said Dominique Davis. “We started with about 25 young people from the community, all from different backgrounds, from the city; some were facing criminal charges, some were not, some were in school, some had dropped out of school. We did a canvassing of the streets and the young people came back and said, “We need a place for young people to live, to get services, somewhere to get help with education,” so we partnered with Creative Justice, Africatown Community Land Trust, and Councilmember Zahilay to develop the Youth Achievement Center.”

“We are in the midst of an uprising that is forcing us as a nation to face even more deeply the ways in which our systems and institutions very intentionally marginalize and disenfranchise black, indigenous and youth of color,” said Nikkita Oliver. “Times such as these highlight the need for projects like the Youth Achievement Center: spaces birthed out of the genius and lived experiences of youth of color.”

The Youth Achievement Center (YAC) is a project being developed by a community-based coalition focused on addressing the various systemic obstacles that Black and Brown youth in South Seattle and King County are facing in their life. It will provide permanent and emergency housing for youth, community services and programming for youth, and space for commercial businesses.

The youth in this area, who are predominantly Black and brown, face systemic inequality that makes them more likely to experience unemployment, criminal detention, violence, and housing instability. The YAC coalition is developing this project in collaboration with the youth in the community who are directly affected by these problems to begin taking steps towards addressing challenges created by historic and multigenerational inequities. Funding for the development of the YAC is an important step to help address these historic injustices.

Click here for information about other Community Project Funding requests submitted by Congressman Smith.