7 small nonprofits that deserve your support

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We have a day for giving thanks, a day for stampeding storefronts, a day for splurging online, and in the last few years, a global day of giving back. Today, we celebrate what has now been coined #GivingTuesday.

100% of respondents to our recent Crosscut reader survey said they give to at least one non-profit each year. Which means the odds are you – dear philanthropist – are considering making a charitable gift to an organization you appreciate today, or before the end of the year. So while you’re pulling out your checkbooks, we’ve asked a few civic leaders to help shine the spotlight on seven small non-profits packing a big impact here in the Northwest that you may not have heard about… yet.

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Recommended by Martha Choe, formerly of Gates Foundation and Seattle City Council, as well as other positions in public, private and non-profit sectors.

Craft3 is an amazing organization with a powerful mission: To strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in Pacific Northwest communities. Since its founding in 1994 as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Craft3 amplifies its resources—capital, expertise and relationships throughout the region – to have the greatest community impact possible through creating jobs, providing essential products and services, and reducing impacts on climate change.

Craft3 provides capitol, the lifeblood of small businesses, in loans ranging from $5,000 to $5 million. It is proud of the hundreds of success stories among its borrowers who have few, if any options for accessing capital. In 2014, Craft3 created over 1,000 jobs in rural Oregon and Washington, Indian Country and high poverty urban areas in Seattle and Portland; 49% of loans were to women, minorities, immigrant or veteran owned businesses and averted 14,052 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

You can make a gift to Craft3 at http://www.craft3.org/

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Rainier Valley Corps

Recommended by Jane Broom, Community Affairs Director in Microsoft’s citizenship and public affairs group.

The Rainier Valley Corps was founded by the extraordinary leader, Vu Le, to help build a generation of leaders of color what will strengthen the capacity of community-of-color-led nonprofits and foster collaboration between diverse communities to effect systemic change.  This is the kind of organization that has the opportunity to catalyze real, long-lasting, meaningful change in our local communities.

You can make a gift to Rainier Valley Corps at: http://rainiervalleycorps.org/

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Gender Justice League

Recommended by Kris Hermanns, Executive Director of Pride Foundation.

Gender Justice League organizes people in the community that no one else is and those most impacted by injustice—transgender people, particularly, transgender people of color and immigrants. GJL provides leadership development, policy advocacy, public education, and community mobilization on urgent issues facing trans people. They fought to eliminate transgender healthcare exclusions in all public and private insurance, including for state employees, plans in the healthcare exchange, and Apple Health. As part of the Coalition for Inclusive Healthcare, Gender Justice League abolished most of the blatantly discriminatory provisions. GJL also hosted an LGBTQ Hate Crimes forum, drawing attention to increased hate crimes on Capitol Hill; Seattle has the 3rd highest bias crime rate in the country. This resulted in Seattle’s Mayor convening an LGBTQ Hate Crimes Task Force, increasing awareness and resources to address this critical issue.

While their list of accomplishments is much longer, this illustrates how a small, grassroots nonprofit—one paid employee and a budget below $100,000—is transforming our community and creating high-impact / high-profile policy changes for Washington’s trans communities.

Every new gift allows Gender Justice League to do even more, in the face of growing backlash, to protect the people who remain most vulnerable and invisible.

You can make a gift to Gender Justice League at: www.genderjusticeleague.org

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Friends of Little Saigon

Recommended by Taylor Hoang, Executive Director of Ethnic Business Coalition and an entrepreneur and leader in the Asian and business communities of Seattle.

Friends of Little Saigon’s (FLS) mission is to promote, enhance, and showcase the cultural and economic vitality of Seattle’s Little Saigon. Organized in 2011 as a group of concerned business owners and community members, FLS focused on advocating for small businesses. But in the five years that they’ve been established, this organization has gone far beyond their original goals.

Taking a more holistic approach, FLS is developing a park, enhancing public right of ways, promoting the neighborhood small businesses, tackling public safety, and building a community centered mixed-use development with a Vietnamese Cultural Center, housing, and retail space. All of which is to ensure cultural preservation as well as growth and sustainability of the Little Saigon neighborhood.

You can make a gift to Friends of Little Saigon at: Friends of Little Saigon c/o SCIDpda, 409 Maynard Ave S Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98104

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Recommended by Mary Grace Roske, Vice President/Marketing & Communications at the Seattle Foundation, overseeing the annual one-day online giving campaign GiveBIG.

AtWork! is a highly supportive and innovative conduit between people with disabilities and mainstream employers. AtWork! approaches its mission of empowering people with disabilities to be productive, integrated and contributing members of their communities from a unique 360-degree perspective. By focusing as much on the employer’s needs as on its’ clients needs, AtWork! can strategize, design and create jobs that are valuable, meaningful and deliver a measurable benefit to everyone involved.

AtWork! supported my brother in his job search and he has a full-time, well-paying position with benefits at a excellent local employer.  The AtWork! team made a huge difference in his life and provided essential support to our family, enabling my brother to be as independent as possible.  AtWork's efforts to create a more inclusive workforce are changing the face of employment in our region and dramatically improving the lives of the people it serves.

You can make a gift to AtWork! at http://www.atworkwa.org/donate/

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21 Progress

Recommended by Lexi Potter, Advertising Manager for the International Examiner, who is involved in the Chinatown-International District's nonprofit community.

21 Progress is a progressive social justice nonprofit dedicated to building a 21st century movement for equity & justice. Since its founding, 21 Progress has provided microloans to over 250 immigrant youth and young adults to increase their college and career opportunities, with a greater than 90% repayment rate.

Coming into its fourth year in 2016, 21 Progress is working to expand its programs and determine the best ways to fulfill its mission. In Spring 2015, 21 Progress launched its Fearless Asians for Immigration Reform (FAIR!) campaign to reach out to undocumented Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs). As of September, FAIR! has assisted over 65 undocumented API youth.

The staff are extremely passionate about expanding their mission and impact, often working evenings and weekends. They have reached over 4,000 young people this year alone by participating in conferences, lectures, classroom visits, and countless other outreach events. 21 Progress was recently awarded $5,000 through SVP Fast Pitch Seattle to support its new youth program, Ignite Leadership, which will provide high school students from all backgrounds with greater access to leadership development. The organization hopes to further grow its financial literacy, economic justice, and leadership development programs in the coming year.

You can make a gift to 21 Progress at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/21PROGRESS

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The CAIR Project

Recommended by Anita Yandle, who runs communications at the Washington State Association for Justice, formerly known as the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

When a woman in our region needs an abortion but can’t afford it, she calls the Northwest’s abortion fund, The CAIR Project (CAIR). I support CAIR because I believe that every person should get to decide when and if they have children, regardless of their financial circumstances. CAIR is volunteer-run and operates a hotline that offers information and referrals, as well as grants for abortion services.

A gift this season would mean they would be able to handle the larger influx of calls for help they receive each year after the holidays. Like CAIR, I believe that the legal right to abortion is only meaningful when people have the resources to actually obtain these services and that restrictions on abortion care and on public funding for abortion are discriminatory because they especially burden poor, young, and rural people, as well as people of color. Abortion is part of basic health care, a right that should be guaranteed to all. CAIR helps provide this basic service to those who would otherwise be unable to exercise their constitutionally protected rights, and that’s why they get my money and my time.

You can make a gift to the CAIR Project at https://cairproject.org/donate/


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About the Authors & Contributors

Tamara Power-Drutis

Tamara Power-Drutis is a writer, researcher and the former executive director of Crosscut.