All children, youth and families in King County should have the opportunity to live, learn, work and play in thriving communities. For this reason, approximately 10% of the Best Starts for Kids levy is dedicated to Communities of Opportunity (COO), an initiative launched by King County and the Seattle Foundation in early 2014.
The COO initiative is designed to maximize positive impact by expanding cross-sector partnerships and catalyzing resources to underinvested neighborhoods. Where you live in King County is strongly tied to your chances of living well and thriving:
- Average life expectancy can be 10 years shorter in neighborhoods just a few miles away.
- Average household income in one neighborhood can be $100,000 less than one nearby.
- Poverty rates can range from 6% to 54% by neighborhood.
Co-designing with community
The founding COO partners have brought together additional funders, community leaders, residents, and community-based organizations working together to improve equity in health and well-being. Several community-led coalitions in SeaTac/Tukwila, White Center and Rainier Valley–the three current Communities of Opportunity place-based sites–have been instrumental in this co-design planning. They are a primary mechanism for gathering community input. Additional stakeholders continue to be consulted as planning for implementation continues.
The Best Starts for Kids Ordinance includes language that:
- Appointed the existing COO Interim Governance Group to develop a transition plan to a permanent Governance Group
- Specified the Governance Group develop an implementation plan to distribute the COO levy funds
- Added additional members to the Interim Governance group: two additional community representatives from King County communities with the most disparate health and well-being outcomes and one Council representative.
A second ordinance, due June 1, will put forward the structure of the permanent Governance Group and an implementation plan for the distribution of COO levy funds.