Student business generates impressive donation

The Seattle Waldorf School Community Giving Store.

The Seattle Waldorf School Community Giving Store.

In Waldorf education, 6th grade is a time when classes get deeply involved in community service. For many, that means volunteering at food banks, or doing environmental cleanup. But Wim Gottenbos’ 6th grade class at the Seattle Waldorf School spent the past spring developing a lively business that raised $2,000 in profits to support Solid Ground.

“Kids this age are starting to really see themselves,” said class parent Kimberly Hiner. In order to balance that, it is important for the students “to see greater need and the greater world out there.”

For four consecutive Fridays, the class opened shop at the end of the school day, selling their artwork, homemade lip balm, hand-knit mittens, pencil boxes, candles, baked goods and other items to schoolmates and their families. Stunning geometric-colored pencil drawings were printed as note cards and a poster, then marketed through the school newsletter.

Every one of the class’ 29 students created products to sell and took on business functions like marketing, accounting and direct sales. “I told them: ‘Every family has a strength. Find out what your strength is and bring that into this effort.'”

The project drew on many elements of the Waldorf curriculum, including geometry, handwork and business math.

Dean McColgan, Development Director at Solid Ground, spent about an hour with the students talking to them about the role of nonprofit organizations, the importance of community support, and Solid Ground’s mission and services. Dean said, “The project taught basic business principles, like accounting and inventory, but emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. When I presented to the class, I was very impressed with the students’ knowledge and eagerness to learn about the importance of nonprofit work.”

Each student in the 6th grade contributed a pencil drawing to this poster. Note cards were also created from the drawings.

Each student in the 6th grade contributed a pencil drawing to this poster. Note cards were also made from the drawings.

Perhaps a more long-term result of the project was how it created opportunity for conversations about privilege and equity.

“We developed an awareness of people that do not have the wealth and comfort that we have,” said Wim. “These students have breakfast every morning in their homes; they attend a private school. Most have their own rooms and own beds. So we imagine what it is like for kids of the same age who do not have the same things, who do not have breakfast, and must wait at school for their breakfast. Our task is to open the world for them, to help them connect to the outside world.”

“The students were proud of what they accomplished,” noted parent Liz Yaroschuk. “There was a sense of ownership in the business, deciding what products to sell, how much to charge. They were stunned by the amount of money they raised.”

“And,” added Kimberly, “they were incredibly impressed at what Solid Ground does.” Dean hopes to return to the school later this fall and report back to the students on the impact of their investment.

(Disclosure: I’ve drank the Waldorf Kool-Aid. My daughter is a 2014 graduate of the Seattle Waldorf School and my wife is on its Early Childhood staff.)

National nonprofit conference coming to Seattle

This November 16-18, more than 1,000 leaders and practitioners from nonprofits, foundations and corporate philanthropies across the country and around the world will converge in Seattle for IMAGINE, the 2014 Independent Sector National Conference.

IS_imagineThe conference is a rare opportunity for face-to-face collaboration, idea sharing, and knowledge building about emerging sector trends. It’s where the sector’s leading minds work together to find new ways to improve our communities, country and world. You can view the complete conference schedule here.

More than 150 top-notch speakers will be leading 30+ sessions, including: Change Agents – Community & Cultural Organizations; The Evolving Dynamics of Corporate Philanthropy; Inclusion, Diversity and Equity: Taking Our Vision from Imagined to Realized; and Capturing Hearts, Minds and Credit Cards. There is also a full track being curated by Philanthropy Northwest.

Local philanthropic leader Sonya Campion of the Campion Foundation, sums up the conference with a story: “I remember an Independent Sector Conference session where people were frantically texting and literally sprinting out to find their colleagues so that they could participate in the conversation,” she says. “What was happening in that room wasn’t just important. It was electric. Experiences like that don’t happen anywhere else in our sector.”

IMAGINE features dozens of thought-provoking sessions and more than 150 top-notch speakers, ranging from Sue Desmond-Hellmann of the Gates Foundation to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hedrick Smith to artist-philanthropist Alec Baldwin. It also turns the concept of a traditional conference upside down with creative networking opportunities, exciting social events, and dynamic performances from artists like tribal funk group Pamyua and Grammy Award-winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari.

Plus, with an array of offerings like exclusive tracks for CEOs and C-Suiters, preconference sessions for policy advocates and emerging leaders, and post-conference workshops on critical topics like diversity, inclusion and best ethical practices, this is an experience everyone will be talking about.

To register, go to the Independent Sector website.

Christmas in July at Safeco supports Broadview

The Seattle Mariners and Rick’s Toys for Kids are presenting the first ever Christmas in July on Thursday, July 25 at Safeco Field. The Mariners will take on the Minnesota Twins with a 7:10pm first pitch.

ChristmasinJuly-1_mooseA portion of ticket proceeds will benefit Toys for Kids, the charity started many years ago by M’s broadcaster Rick Rizzs and former M’s centerfielder Dave Henderson. Toys for Kids supports children and families who are homeless and surviving domestic violence, including the residents of Solid Ground’s Broadview Emergency Shelter & Transitional Housing and Brettler Family Place programs.

Toys for Kids has provided loving, generous, magical year-end holiday celebrations for hundreds of Broadview residents. Rizzs and Henderson are truly revered for this work by everyone connected to Broadview and the other programs involved.

So, come on out to Safeco Field and enjoy a night of baseball while supporting a great cause. Tickets are $20 with $8 going directly to Toys for Kids!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to
  2. Select “Buy Tickets” then enter “Christmas” as your Special Offer Code.
  3. Purchase and print your tickets instantly!

The deadline to purchase is July 24!


Thanks for shining light into the darkness!

Art by Rainer Waldman Adkins

Art by Rainer Waldman Adkins

The winter solstice is one of the most powerful days of the year. In this darkest moment, the cold and gray cast a heavy shadow on the realities our clients face every day. And yet, the solstice promises the return of light to our world. It rekindles hope based on the reality that life-giving energy outshines the darkest days.

It is a time that many of the world’s traditions call out for pause, reflection and re-commitment. And so, all of us at Solid Ground would like to pause to thank members of our community for your dedication to our work to overcome poverty and racism.

Together we face many dark times. But we know they are overcome by the radiant smiles of children learning to read, or digging in the soil while learning how food is grown; by the joyous gasps of parents opening doors to their new homes, and the satisfied sighs of riders reaching their destination.

Through our work and your support, we kindle light, hope and thousands of better futures. Thank you. Have a warm and safe holiday season!

Pouring on the support

Executive Chef Augi and General Manager Tino in the kitchen

For many years, the Nickerson Street Saloon has come up with creative ways to support Solid Ground. With the support of their suppliers, they have a tasty history of donating a portion of their holiday beer revenues to Solid Ground.

This year is no exception: Through the end of the year, they will donate a portion of the sales of every glass of New Belgium’s Shift Pale Lager to Solid Ground. Stop on by for a fine brew to support a fine cause!

Also, last week Nickerson Street Saloon hosted its second annual Thanksgiving feast for clients of Solid Ground and the FamilyWorks food bank.

“Our involvement with Solid Ground started through Kira Zylstra [who manages Solid Ground’s Homeless Prevention Programs],” explains Chris “Tino” Martino, General Manager.

“She worked for me for a number of years and it was a natural fit. I think our goal as a business has always been to be partner with our community. We have always thought of ourselves as a neighborhood restaurant and part of that includes trying to help out and give something back. Fortunately we have been successful enough to be able to host these types of things and have always had great support from our vendors like Georgetown Brewing, New Belgium Brewery and Columbia Distributing.”

Tino adds, “Our Thanksgiving meal was something we started last year. We had talked about it for a number of years and last year it just sort of came together. Kira pointed me towards Jake Weber at FamilyWorks, and we just went with it. I’m really looking forward to this year. I was really struck by how grateful and thankful all the people we had last year were. I thought it was nice that we were able to serve people in the context of our restaurant; I think our guests enjoyed it. It’s something we plan to continue to do as long as we can.”

Kira volunteered on Thanksgiving, helping to serve the 75 guests. “This wasn’t a buffet: We served our guests and got them what they wanted,” she said. “It was a really welcoming environment.”

“Chris Gerke is the owner of the Nick and he has always been the reason we try to do what we do,” Tino says. “Giving back and trying to leave things better than you found them is something he has always preached and I have embraced as well. In the end, helping to care for each other is something I believe we are all responsible for and a great reminder of how fortunate I have been in my own life. Perspective is always a good thing.”

Growing change agents

Solid Ground’s September 2012 Groundviews newsletter highlights our Penny Harvest program through the experiences of program alums, and the Big Picture News insert introduces our new leadership. To read past issues of Groundviews, please visit our Publications webpage.

Penny Harvest students at Washington Middle School circa 2008

Penny Harvest students at Washington Middle School circa 2008

Solid Ground’s Penny Harvest doesn’t fit neatly into a thematic box – but this innovative program packs a powerful impact engaging young people (ages four to 18) in philanthropy and service learning. Youth collect tens of thousands of dollars in coins, then carefully review and make grants to causes they care about (such as housing for people experiencing homelessness, cleaning up Puget Sound, promoting animal welfare, and many other efforts).

Penny Harvest strives to nurture a new generation of caring and capable young people who strengthen their communities and create personal and social change. With a strong emphasis on social justice, the program gives students of all backgrounds the opportunity to come together and make a difference – creating a generation of leaders who think critically about community issues and take action.

To paint a picture of the long-term impact Penny Harvest can have, we spoke to three program alumni who served on a Penny Harvest Youth Board in 2005 – now young adults – to find out what their experiences with the program mean to their lives today.

Taken back in May 2005, Penny Harvest Youth Board members (l to r) Leah Heck, Ana Lucia Degel & Maddy Carroll-Novak

Taken back in May 2005, Penny Harvest Youth Board members (l to r) Leah Heck, Ana Lucia Degel & Maddy Carroll-Novak

Leah Heck
When she first got involved with Penny Harvest, Leah says, “I don’t think I really had an understanding of philanthropy. I did have an understanding of community service,” but she adds, “Mostly I associated community service with something older people did.

“One of the main things it showed me was that I didn’t have to wait till I was rich or older, but that I could make an impact already. I could do something. That was very important for me. Penny Harvest helped open my eyes to many things which just aren’t really talked about or, since I hadn’t experienced, I didn’t know about. My involvement has impacted my life in a number of ways. I really enjoyed participating in the Youth Board and everything we did. It is one of the reasons I have become interested in the nonprofit sector and social injustice and how important it is to get involved.”

A recent university graduate living in the Netherlands, she says, “I just started interning at a nonprofit, which focuses on human rights and women. Penny Harvest in a way jumpstarted my career decision. It showed me what is possible and what I can do.”

Damon Arrao
Like Leah, philanthropy was a new concept for Damon prior to joining the Youth Board. “I dabbled in community service and didn’t have a great idea of what interested me. Penny Harvest really enlightened me to what it meant to give back. It wasn’t even necessarily money, but time and empathy towards other people. The idea to me then, and now, of allocating precious time (much less, money) towards good causes is the foundation of community and having a good life.”

He speaks to the program’s equalizing affect and how it shatters the idea that only the wealthy can engage in philanthropy. “I think that’s probably one of the greatest things Penny Harvest does. On the Youth Board, I worked with students from many different socioeconomic backgrounds. Having moved from a low-income part of Portland, Oregon, I participated in philanthropy with students who lived in suburbs, went to private schools or who had the same background as me. The same goal brought us together, and the rest was trivial.”

He says, “During my time at Penny Harvest, I learned well my ability to make the hard decisions and come up with innovative ideas. I’ve been a role model for serving my community, and younger members of my family have followed in my footsteps. Career-wise, at this point I am still undecided, however whatever I aspire to, I know an underlying goal would be to support philanthropic causes and organizations that enrich our communities.”

Ana Lucia Degel
At the other end of the spectrum, Ana Lucia comes from a family that runs its own philanthropic foundation. She says her family’s social ideology taught her, “When you have, you must give.”

However she says, “It was through the experience of Penny Harvest that I really understood more about the process of philanthropy – the difference between advantages that I had, and things that I didn’t really have to consider or think about because it was a given for me. What stood out to me then was the social justice aspect of it.

“Along with that – being 17 years old and feeling angsty, like nobody listened to me – I felt taken seriously by adults. And that sense that you have the power to do something, that adults are going to listen to you – it’s HUGE. When a kid can have that experience, I think it sticks with you for a long time.”

Today, Ana Lucia teaches Special Ed through Teach for America and says that Penny Harvest strongly influenced how she approaches her role. She says, “It doesn’t work when you come in and think that you’re going to transform a community that isn’t your own.” She pushes herself and the organization to “mobilize families and people and students within that community to work together to create some changes” through “true connection and dialogue and listening.”

And creating opportunities to make lasting, positive change is exactly what Penny Harvest does best. ●

For more info on Penny Harvest, visit or contact

Solid Ground names new leadership team

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Gordon McHenry, Jr., Solid Ground President & CEO

Solid Ground is pleased to announce that Gordon McHenry, Jr. has been named President & Chief Executive Officer. McHenry most recently served as the Executive Director of the Rainier Scholars, a Seattle-based academic enrichment and leadership development agency. Rainier Scholars increases college graduation rates for low-income students of color by providing comprehensive support from 6th grade until college graduation.

Solid Ground also announces that Sandi Cutler has been named Chief Operations & Strategy Officer. Instrumental in the growth of Bastyr University and other agencies, Cutler brings significant strategic, operational and organizational development experience.

The hirings highlight a time of intentional introspection and change at the King County nonprofit, as the agency implements a new strategic plan calling for increased collaboration and coordination among its services.

“We are thrilled to bring this talented leadership team to Solid Ground,” stated Lauren McGowan, Solid Ground Board Chair. “We undertook a national search and in our own backyard found leadership whose careers and life stories embody the notion of creating opportunity for all to thrive,” she said.

“People in our communities continue to suffer from the prolonged economic downturn,” McGowan said. “As an agency, we are being called on to do more, often with less. Gordon and Sandi have the vision and skills to expand Solid Ground’s response to poor and oppressed people, as well as our advocacy to address root causes of social injustice.”

“Fundamentally, it’s about leadership,” McHenry said. “We envision Solid Ground being perceived as a key leader when it comes to addressing economic disparities.”

McHenry previously served in a variety of executive leadership roles in The Boeing Company, most recently as Director of Global Corporate Citizenship in the Northwest Region. A lifelong member of the Seattle community, McHenry has served on many local boards, including the Central Area Motivation Program (now called Centerstone), United Way and The Seattle Public Library. He currently serves on the boards of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Seattle University.

McHenry’s father was the first African-American engineer promoted into management at Boeing, as well as the first person in his family to graduate from college. His mother grew up and was educated in a segregated community in Texas. Their experiences gave their children deep respect for education and a strong belief in being active community leaders.

Cutler’s father led efforts to desegregate public schools in the Central Valley of California. His legacy bore fruit in Cutler’s early work as a political activist and management of progressive political campaigns and reform efforts.

“I am delighted to team up with Sandi Cutler. His activist roots and organizational development experience will help Solid Ground strengthen our community by giving more people the firm foundation they need to succeed,” McHenry said.

Ruth Massinga, Interim CEO since August 2011, will continue working with Solid Ground through the fall on several strategic initiatives.

“Ruth stepped out of retirement and guided us through a strategic refocusing. We are indebted to her for the gift of leadership,” McGowan said.

A quiet request to GiveBIG

GiveBIG logoIf you support any nonprofits in the Puget Sound area – heck if you ever even thought of supporting a nonprofit in the region – you’ve probably been deluged with messages from organizations to participate in the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG effort on Wednesday, May 2.

And that’s a good thing: More awareness about philanthropy helps create more philanthropic activity. It’s the “if you build it, they will come” theory.

You can give to us on GiveBIG Day by going to our page on the website between midnight and midnight on May 2 and making a contribution.

We applaud Seattle Foundation for providing this incredible venue to talk about, and encourage, giving. And we thank them for developing the “stretch pool,” money that gets allocated to participating nonprofits on the basis of how much they bring in through their Seattle Foundation webpage on the 24-hour GiveBIG.

If you are already a Solid Ground donor, this is a great way to make your regular gift. If you are unable to come to our annual luncheon on May 11, you can make your “lunch gift” through GiveBIG. If you are on our email list, we’ll send you a message closer to the day to remind you about this opportunity.

If you’ve not yet contributed to Solid Ground, this is a great way to start. It’s a community-wide celebration of giving, and what better way than to extend your philanthropic circle to include us?!

One thing you should not expect from Solid Ground, however, is a ton of over-the-top hoopla about this event. We are not making a video, sending in the clowns, or sponsoring hydro racers. We know every human service, animal welfare, environmental, etc. agency in town is already screaming about GiveBIG, and we didn’t want to add to the noise.

We just wanted to quietly remind you that Solid Ground is at the GiveBIG party, and we hope to see you there.

Nurturing a philanthropic community

While the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is known worldwide for its philanthropic leadership, on the sleepy western edge of Ballard another institution has developed as a cutting-edge incubator for the next generation of philanthropists.

Adams Elementary, Ballard's philanthropic juggernaut

For the last five years, Adams Elementary School has been cultivating young leaders and empowering them to make a difference.  In connection with Solid Ground’s Penny Harvest program, Adams students have  raised many thousands of dollars for area nonprofits. In the process, they have created a community culture of engagement.

“The whole school really buys into it,” said parent volunteer Bobbi Windus, who has coached the Adams Penny Harvest effort all five years.

“The kids really look forward to it and I really love seeing the kids develop their leadership skills.” Windus said. “Now that we have done it for several years, younger kids are really looking forward to it. [I hear things like:] ‘Oh when I am in Fourth Grade, I’m going to be on the leadership team!’ A mom emailed me at the beginning of this year. Her younger daughter had just started kindergarten and she was thrilled to death when she got her penny collection bag because she had seen her older brother do it.”

Daniel, Riahna and Roscoe carry some of Adams' 2011 harvest

This year Adams students collected 22 sacks of change, totaling nearly 700 pounds of coins, and a few hundred dollars in paper money.

Erica Slotkin volunteered to deliver Adams’ 2011 harvest to the Penny Harvest office earlier this week. A parent at the school, with a son who is now on the Leadership Roundtable and a daughter whose kindergarten coin collection jar was overflowing, Slotkin also works for Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, an environmental agency that has received support from the Adams Penny Harvest.

“It’s been really rewarding for me as a mom and as a community member,” she said. Two years running, I’ve been able to take my son to the spring Penny Harvest Youth Summit as a younger kid not yet involved. He was able to watch and get to see what was going on at that level. To be able to share what I do as my work with him was also really neat.”

The Roundtable is each school’s leadership group. They promote the coin harvest, assess what issues students are concerned about, and make granting decisions with money allocated to them by Penny Harvest.

Riahna points to Caring Cards in the school cafeteria

Every student at Adams participates in identifying issues by writing or drawing on Caring Cards that the Roundtable groups by theme. The cards are displayed in the school cafeteria.

This democratic process gives them guidance in their research of area nonprofits. In 2010 Adams granted $1,000, which was distributed among Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, PAWS and New Beginnings shelter.

Roscoe, who is now serving his second year on the Roundtable,  was a strong advocate for Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. “I really like what Puget Soundkeeper is doing, because my family has a boat,” he said. “I hate it when we go through really polluted water.”

In addition to allocating grants, the Roundtable coordinates community service projects, such as a food drive to benefit the Ballard Food Bank, or a toy drive to benefit Treehouse.

Adams students also make an annual video project to promote the Penny Harvest.

Display boards at the school promote Penny Harvest

“You have to hit the ground running, because the Penny Harvest occurs early in the school year,” said Windus. “That first year I said, ‘Guys we have to do a kickoff assembly,’ but not a single one of the students was willing to talk at the assembly. So, we came up with the video idea.”

This year’s video features Abe the Penny looking for ways to be helpful around the school. Previous videos have spoofed Star Wars and taken other lighthearted approaches to promoting philanthropy.

“It’s really become a deep part of our culture,” Windus said.

What would it be like to change the world in one day?

GiveBIG logoHow would it feel to focus all of our community’s goodwill through a single historic philanthropic effort to support basic human services, arts and culture, education, the environment and other areas?

Let’s find out what happens when we all giveBIG together!

GiveBIG is The Seattle Foundation’s attempt to create the biggest charitable giving day in the history of King County!

June 23 is giveBIG day. The Foundation is asking people to make credit card gifts through their website between 7am and 12 midnight.

You can designate your gift to any of the nonprofit organizations that has a profile (like Solid Ground!). A $500,000 match pool will be distributed proportionally to all participating agencies. The amount of a nonprofit organization’s share of the pool will be based on the percentage of donations the nonprofit receives of the total online contributions made through the site.

To direct your gift to Solid Ground, go to our page on The Seattle Foundation’s website.

But remember to do it ON JUNE 23rd so that your gift is eligible for the match!

The giveBIG idea has been very successful in other cities around the country, in part because the community-wide enthusiasm entices folks who are not already philanthropists to get involved.

We want to see The Seattle Foundation’s giveBIG exceed their wildest dreams! We are asking you to help by giving and by letting others know about this unique opportunity. So post something on your Facebook page, send an email to friends, or write a note on your blog about giveBIG!

It would be great to designate your gifts to Solid Ground by going through our page. But you can also go to The Seattle Foundation’s homepage and search for other participating nonprofits.

Just remember, giveBIG is June23rd!

Luncheon preview: A bigger chance to change the world

Maybe you are thinking: How is this fundraising luncheon different from other fundraising luncheons? Because at this event, we present to you true hope for the future. Here’s a little sneak peek…

We’ll also have moving testimony from folks who have made the transition from homelessness back to solid ground, a captivating keynote speech from Dan Savage about the It Gets Better Project, and 800 folks who, like you, think that building community to end poverty is not just a good excuse for lunching together, it’s what we do. Every day.

There are still seats available, tables to host and sponsorships to buy. Email to get involved.

Penny Harvest teaches children the power of philanthropy

Anna Zuckerman in yellow got a doggy kiss from Miss Floppy as her fellow Penny Harvest panel members looked on. From left they are Leah Zuckerman, Selma Taber, Amy Ijeoma and Chloe Denelsbeck. Miss Floppy's owner and President of AARF (Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation) at far left is Heather Enajibi. Photo by Patrick Robinson, used by permission of the West Seattle Herald.

As I sat in Room 307 at Madison Middle School yesterday, I was reminded once again why I love my job.

The Penny Harvest youth philanthropy roundtable that aptly named themselves “How to be Awesome” were interviewing organizations that they were considering granting funds.

The questions they asked “were probing and pointed and the answers provided real insights into both the spectrum and depth of their need,” according to a write up about the group in the West Seattle Herald.

I found myself uplifted by the fact that I was sitting in a room with six young people in 5th through 8th grade, and they were having open and honest conversations with adults about real life issues that our communities face every day: child abuse, homophobia, suicide, homelessness, mental illness, animal abuse. Here’s the best part: Not only were they engaged in dialogue, but they were deciding what they can do about it…and adults were coming to young people for help to figure it out!

Real change happens when we engage all parts of our community in problem solving, and young people are critical partners in creating change. These students are doing just as they named themselves, teaching the world “how to be awesome.” Thank you Madison Middle school student leaders.

Editor’s note: If you are interested in supporting Penny Harvest, or want to learn more about the program, email Mike Beebe:

Goose bumps and our annual Luncheon

Moving in to Brettler Family Place!

I hope you saw the recent B-1 feature in the Seattle Times about Brettler Family Place, entitled Families’ new lives a sign homeless isn’t hopeless. Everyone who has been to Magnuson Park to see Brettler Family Place gets goose bumps just looking at the beautiful development and realizing what a life-changing opportunity it is for the 51 formerly homeless families who are moving in this month. As a community, we can all take pride in coming together to end homelessness for these folks.

On Friday, May 6, we’ll gather at the 11th Annual Solid Ground Building Community Luncheon to celebrate efforts like this and focus on the work ahead. We want you to be there to share in the powerful stories of our programs’ success.

In fact, please consider hosting a table of 10 and inviting your friends, family and colleagues to join you. There is no ticket price, but we’ll ask you to donate $150. The Luncheon is 12:00 noon – 1:30 pm at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. To sign up for the Luncheon, contact Megan Locatelli at or 206.694.6862.

Our keynote speaker is Dan Savage, an outspoken and sometimes controversial speaker who at times challenges even things we hold dear! Dan will inspire us with a talk about his It Gets Better Project, which provides support and guidance to LGBT youth who have been bullied – in fact to anyone seeking a relief from isolation and oppression. Table Captains will be invited to attend an exclusive Q&A with Dan following the event.

For more information on the event, go to our website.

Operators are standing by; contact Megan Locatelli at or 206.694.6862!

Here is one sample video from the It Gets Better project. Just try watching this without being moved!

Dan Savage brings It Gets Better project to Solid Ground Luncheon

It Gets Better with Dan Savage

On Friday, May 6, 2011, we will come together 800 strong to celebrate courage and hope: the courage to stand up for what we believe in and the hope of a better future for our community. Solid Ground’s work to undo poverty and oppression sits on a foundation of engaging and encouraging each other – clients, staff, donors and community members – to be a part of something bigger.

We hope that you will join us this year for the 11th Annual Building Community Luncheon. We are currently seeking Table Hosts who can invite their community to join in support of Solid Ground. The Luncheon is Solid Ground’s most important fundraiser, and revenue from the event  sustains Solid Ground’s vital anti-poverty work in King County. Guests at the Luncheon will be asked to make a minimum gift of $150.

We are thrilled to welcome keynote speaker Dan Savage. While Dan is best known as editor of Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper and author of the internationally syndicated Savage Love relationship advice column, he has also done groundbreaking anti-oppression work that shows just how effectively one person can change the world! Looking for a way to respond to the epidemic suicide rate among gay teens, Dan and his partner Terry launched the It Gets Better project, which involves a series of viral videos aimed at giving hope, strength and support to gay teens who struggle with social isolation, depression and bullying.

By creating this safe space, Savage mobilized a movement of caring adults who through thoughtful and passionate videos share their similar experiences and urge teens not to give up. The “It Gets Better” project is a powerful testament to the impact any one of us can have on the world!

As a Table Host, you will fill a full table (10 people) or half table (5 people) from your networks, and serve as the point person for your table at the event. We will support you as much as needed in asking your friends, family and coworkers to attend the Luncheon with you. While there is no ticket price, guests are asked to make a gift of $150 at the event. Many give much more!

And as a Table Host, you will be invited to an exclusive post-event question and answer session with Dan Savage!

For more information, or to sign up as a Table Host, email Ali Friedman or call her at 206.694.6852.

Here is Dan and Terry’s initial It Gets Better video:

A fond farewell, a fitting tribute

Talking up the campaign for Brettler Family Place

Today Solid Ground bids a fond farewell to Zanne Garland, our Individual Giving Manager. Zanne has pretty much revolutionized our fundraising approach and our ability to engage individuals, companies and groups in our work. She has more than doubled our Annual Campaign Revenues and helped raise the funds to build Brettler Family Place at Sand Point, which will provide permanent housing for 51 families starting later this Spring.

Those of you who have had the chance to get to know her will agree that Zanne is both a blast to spend time with and a rising star whose brilliance has graced our community for the four years she has been with us. She’ll have a positive impact wherever she goes; for the next few months, that will be traveling the world with her husband, Jackson.

In honor of Zanne’s great work at Solid Ground and in our community, Solid Ground has created the Zanne Garland Fund to support the completion of the Sand Point Housing Capital Campaign. Please consider honoring and carrying forth Zanne’s leadership and service with a gift to this fund. Click here for our Sand Point Capital Campaign donation page, and if you choose to make a gift to the Zanne Garland Fund, please specify that your gift is in honor of Zanne.


Brettler Family Place will open in a few weeks, providing permanent housing for 51 families!


Thanksgiving for Homeless People

A cool new event with a heartwarming back story is happening Nov. 10 to bring people together to support Thanksgiving for Homeless People. The event features bluegrass music, refreshments and comments from some very special guests. Proceeds will benefit Solid Ground and the outreach/meal work of the Mosiac Community Church and Bread of Life Mission, who will distribute turkey sandwich meals at the Mission following the event.

  • What: Thanksgiving for Homeless People benefitThanksgiving greeting card
  • When: November 10, 2010, 4:00-7:30pm
  • Where: Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave., Seattle
  • Cost: Individual donations are $10.00 and canned food items.
  • Hosted by: Tyler Accornero and Justin Simmons.
  • Guest Speakers: Urban League Director James Kelly & Former Homeless Resident Don Augustin.
  • Special Guest: Former Gov. Albert Rosellini.

Event co-host Tyler Accornero “grew up on food stamps for most of my young life,” he told Solid Ground in an email. “As i was growing up i made a promise to myself that if i ever made something of myself and became successful that i would help the part of the community that grew up like me or who were in harsher positions in life such as being homeless.

“Thanksgiving for The Homeless came about in the year 2009 when during Thanksgiving I delivered turkeys to local food banks in my Legislative District. I decided after thanksgiving of that year that i wanted to use my community involvement in the political arena and business world to make a bigger impact on the City of Seattle where i was born and help the city in the best way i knew i could, by the relationships I built over the past 7 years in the city.

“In June, I met with a good friend of mine Justin Simmons and we decided to organize and establish an annual event that would benefit the homeless and poor in which we could help the needy by raising money for shelters and also have a food drive for the local food banks on a holiday when there are currently 5,000 homeless on the streets each night in the city.

“When I was choosing a beneficiary for the event i started looking around at different non-profits in the area. Justin informed me that there was homeless advocate non-profit called Solid Ground. I looked more into the organization and found the community Solid Ground was building which will help more homeless families with their living situations. I decided that this would be the best suited  beneficiary for this newly established community event.”

The event is co-sponsored by:

  • Church Council of Greater Seattle
  • Metropolitan Democratic Club
  • Sons of Italy Seattle Fedele Lodge
  • Urban League of Seattle
  • Mosaic Community Church
  • Vietnamese Federation of the USA
  • King County Labor Council
  • Solid Ground
  • People’s Place
  • Bread of Life Mission
  • Doug’s Quality Meats
  • Big John’s PFI
  • Delle Femmine Enterprises
  • American Federation of Musicians Local 76
  • and many more.

All financial proceeds benefit Solid Ground and all food items go to local food banks and missions.

Salute to McCallum Print Group!

I wanted to let folks know about a significant supporter of Solid Ground. For four years we have benefited from an extremely generous relationship with McCallum Print Group. By the end of this year we will have received about a half million dollars in free printing since the relationship began. McCallum has given us the power to completely upgrade the look, feel and usefulness of countless outreach and program materials, from our Groundviews newsletter to the Lettuce Link Growing Guide, RSVP surveys to direct mail fundraisers.

This whole thing started in 2006 when co-owner, Terry Storms, and his wife, Janet Dindia, long-time donors to the agency, stepped forward to ask how they could do more. What began as a handful of print pieces promoting our name change from Fremont Public Association to Solid Ground has blossomed into a deep and ongoing commitment to our work.

It’s great when a company partners with a nonprofit to meet tangible needs that help us carry out our mission. But what is exceptional here is the extended length of time of their support and the unwavering ability to take on more jobs for us.

And all this has happened despite the fact that the economy has been brutal on the print industry over the past few years.

Every Fall, as we get into budgeting processes here at Solid Ground, I nervously reconnect with Terry to see if McCallum is able to continue their support. And while I tend to think if this in terms of all they do for us, Terry’s response makes it clear that this is not a one-way relationship:

“As I have said in the past, it gives us great satisfaction to know that we have made a difference to Solid Ground. Everyone we have come in contact with from Solid Ground has been incredibly gracious and appreciative for our efforts. And yes, the economy has had a major impact on our industry, but as long as you’ll have us, we’re planning on continuing our relationship with Solid Ground.”

“As long as you’ll have us,” he said. I love that.

So, with a sigh of relief, I’m happy to let all friends of Solid Ground know that we can continue to look forward to the benefit of top-notch printing and service from Terry and all the good people at McCallum. While we work most closely with Terry and his assistant, Jean Williams, we know that there is equal commitment from the receptionists, press operators, delivery folks and everyone else there. Many of them have become volunteers or donors. A few have likely come to our programs for assistance. All are our family.

Why giving the rich a tax break will not work as a strategy to fight poverty!

The New York Times magazine ran a story about ‘the Charitable Giving Divide’ this weekend, validating what those of us who raise money for social causes know to be true — that the wealthy give a smaller percentage of their total income to charitable giving than do the poor. In fact, households making less than $25,000 a year gave 4.7% of their income to charity, while households making $75,000 a year or more gave away just 2.7% of their income! Community Chest card from MonopolySo while that 2.7% of a higher income might mean more actual dollars than the 4.7% of a lower income, it also means that as a percentage of their income, wealthy households give less than low-income households. At a time when poverty rates are rising, we need more resources to meet the great needs of our community.

So while I applaud Bill Gates’ commitment to give half his wealth away, I hope that this will not be used as proof or evidence in support of extending tax cuts for the wealthy. Giving the wealthy tax cuts clearly does not mean that they will turn around and donate these funds. And when they do donate, we also know that it often does not go to those in the most need:  “instead it was mostly directed to other causes — cultural institutions, for example, or their alma maters…”.

Why do the wealthy give less and the poor give more (as a percentage of their overall income)? Paul Kiff from the University of California at Berkeley found in a study that he conducted “that if higher-income people were instructed to imagine themselves as lower class, they became more charitable. If they were primed by, say, watching a sympathy-eliciting video, they became more helpful to others — so much so, in fact, that the difference between their behavior and that of the low-income subjects disappeared. And fascinatingly, the inverse was true as well: when lower-income people were led to think of themselves as upper class, they actually became less altruistic.”

Hmm? So we all should go out and make ‘sympathy-eliciting’ videos in order to fight poverty? Sure let’s do that, but I would also encourage a few more actions as we head into this next school year!

1) Advocate for NOT extending the tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s clear that these tax cuts do not mean that there will be more resources for those living in poverty.

2) Give more yourself! If folks making less than $25,00o a year are giving 4.7% of their income to charity, clearly those of us making more than that can at the very least match that! For example, I have made a personal commitment to give at least 5% of my income to charity each year (I usually give about 8% but commit to no less than 5%).

3) Teach young people about giving and the importance of giving. Check out the program I direct, Penny Harvest. Your child’s school can participate in this youth philanthropy and service learning program.

4) Volunteering is much more powerful than ‘sympathy-eliciting’ videos. Check out volunteer opportunities with Solid Ground, or get your workplace involved in United Way’s Day of Caring.

5) Share this article with friends and family, and encourage them to commit 5% of their income to charity!

Double your support for the Family Shelter by watching Ghostbusters this Saturday

Cool: Come watch a classic filmGhostbusters logo, enjoy the beautiful Seattle summer, and help raise funds for Solid Ground’s Family Shelter program at the Fremont Outdoor Movies on Saturday, July 10th. Family Shelter provides short-term and long-term emergency shelter for families with children under the age of 18. This Saturday’s movie will be the classic comedy/fantasy film, Ghostbusters.

The CoHo Team of Windermere real estate agents is generously sponsoring this annual benefit at the Fremont Outdoor Movies “theater.” Donations will be matched – dollar for dollar – by the CoHo Team. All donations made at the door (or before the event online: type “CoHo Team” in the additional information section of our online donation form) will go to Solid Ground and be matched by the CoHo Team. And while the suggested donation is $5, there is no limit to what you can give!

Fremont Outdoor Movie posterSo come get some laughs and some good karma on Saturday, July 10th at the Fremont Outdoor Movies in the parking lot on N 35th & Phinney Ave.

Questions? Email or call 206.694.6857.

We can’t wait to see you there!

If this blog didn’t motivate you, check out a trailer for Ghostbusters:

Kwanchai Syttende Mai Event Benefiting JourneyHome

Hei! May 17th, the Norwegian Constitution Day, is Ballard’s biggest day of the year with one of the largest parades outside of Norway. Syttende Gay returns also, this time as a benefit for Solid Ground’s JourneyHome program!

Syttende Gay came into existence in 2006 as an event combining Seattle’s Scandinavian GLBT community and the annual celebration of  Syttende Mai. This event has evolved into an internationally-promoted occasion with the help of local and international blogs such as Ballard Gossip Girl, Seattle Gay Scene, Out Traveler Magazine and Orbitz Travel. Syttende Gay is one of the many events under the auspices of Kwanchai.

In line with the last few years, Kwanchai will have the pleasure of hosting Syttende Gay 2010 at BalMar (5449 Ballard Ave NW off NW Market St) with spectacular views of the parade.

DJ JessE (whom you might remember from Kwanchai’s Ref. 71 Benefit) will be spinning a blend of Scandinavian and current energy club mixes in BalMar’s new dance space.

JourneyHome provides transitional housing, case management, housing search and other supportive services to get homeless families back to stable housing. There will be two ways to raise funds, with a VIP Pass and the Event Raffle.

The VIP Pass ($7) offers exclusive patio access for panoramic views of the parade, 10% off of inspired appetizers and cocktail specials, live DJ and private bar.

Event Date: Monday, May 17, 2010

Event Time: 5:00 pm – 8:oo pm

Norwegian Constitution Day Parade at 6:00 pm

Kwanchai events are always open to everyone of interest as our mission aligns with celebrating inclusiveness and diversity.

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