Seattle isn't the city we know and love without its independent restaurants, bars, small businesses, and arts and culture organizations—many of which are struggling financially following Governor Inslee's necessary social distancing directive meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. Luckily, you can make a difference. In addition to ordering from local dining and drinking establishments and shopping remotely from local bookstores, record shops, and craft suppliers, there are some extra steps you can take to help your favorite places bounce back once this is all over. Behold: Your complete guide to Seattle-specific relief funds for artists, charitable organizations for vulnerable community members, petitions for small businesses, and other ways to contribute. For details on gift cards, merch, and specific venue donations, check out the donations & support section of our location directory.
Jump to: Restaurants | Community Causes | Music & Performance
Benefiting: restaurants, bars, and their staff members.
All In Seattle
Since launching on March 23, this Ethan Stowell-endorsed community-organized group has raised more than $27 million, which they've donated directly to local food security, small business-supporting, and housing nonprofits. Those include FareStart (which provides job training and other services for individuals experiencing homelessness), United Way of King County (which provides emergency grocery vouchers), local food banks Northwest Harvest and Food LifeLine, the University of Washington Medicine Emergency Response Fund, and many more.
Serving restaurant and hospitality workers in Seattle, Spokane, and San Diego, Big Table prides itself on "building community around shared meals and caring for those in crisis, transition, or falling through the cracks." They operate on a "referral model" as opposed to a "hotline model," which makes for a close network of managers, owners, and employees. That means they're able to provide close personal care (like addiction recovery, housing stability, medical care, and job readiness) for those in immediate crisis. It's also worth noting that their name refers to an actual big table that seats 48 people. (They use it for dinner parties exclusively for hard-working restaurant staffers during non-social distancing times).
Chinatown-International District and Other Small Businesses Relief Fund
The International District is home to over 400 small businesses, including 140 restaurants (like Stranger critic favorites like Green Leaf and Saigon Deli). Together with Chinatown International District Business Improvement Area and Friends of Little Saigon, the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority has fashioned a relief fund for storefronts in the neighborhood. You can donate directly, or you can order delivery from Jackson Street gem Pho Bac, which is donating a portion of proceeds to the cause, as well as to International Community Health Services.
Columbia Cares Foundation
This fund, launched on March 25 by Columbia Hospitality, helps provide things like housing, medical expenses, and car repair to Columbia Hospitality workers, including those at the Heathman Hotel's Kirkland restaurant Hearth.
James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund
The James Beard Foundation has dubbed it's Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund "the Fund," which sounds official. It aims to provide critical financial assistance to small, independent restaurants that need help from going out of business due to COVID-19 closures.
The Pay It Forward Project
Richard Hurring and Ian Dinsmore, co-founders of the local marketing company Big Man and the Little Guy, have created a comprehensive directory of Seattle restaurants offering gift cards. So far, it features upwards of 200 local bars, restaurants, and taprooms, including Canon and Joule.
The Plate Fund
The Plate Fund, an initiative started by Starbucks founder Howard Shultz, is providing immediate financial assistance (in the form of $500 one-time payments) to servers and bartenders who have been most affected by COVID-19 in King County. When you donate, you can read the stories of some of the people you're helping out.
Restaurant Workers Relief Program
Since March 23, Chef Edouardo Jordan's original Ravenna restaurant Salare has temporarily transformed into a relief center for hungry local restaurant workers whose jobs have been affected by closures. The restaurant packs hundreds of dinners every night and hands them out on a first-come, first-served basis. They're accepting donations in the way of "money, food, toiletries, and more."
Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund
At-risk workers whose hours have been cut and are not being otherwise compensated—particularly those who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and/or immunocompromised—are the people you'll be helping by donating to the Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund, which is organized by local restaurant industry vet Jessica Tousignant, who used to help run sales at Sun Liquor. .
Seattle Restaurants United
A recently-formed coalition of local independent restaurateurs and chefs—local celebs Renee Erickson (Bateau, Walrus and the Carpenter, etc.), Tom Douglas (Palace Kitchen, Brave Horse Tavern, etc.), and Edouardo Jordan (JuneBaby, Salare, etc.) among them—is asking you to sign a petition to help small restaurants bounce back from COVID-19 closures.
Benefiting: workers, families, and other community members in need.
Capitol Hill Housing COVID-19 Resilience Fund
Capitol Hill Housing, who provide more than 2,000 low-income individuals and families with affordable homes and services, will give 100% of proceeds from this relief fund to those affected most by COVID-19.
Education Equity Fund
The Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools have created the Education Equity Fund to help students continue to learn during the COVID-19 crisis. They provide essential resources like internet access, technical assistance for families, printed worksheets, and laptops for educators.
Seattle Colleges Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Fund
To help its students "weather the crisis, stay healthy and stay in school," the Seattle Colleges Foundation has established a $500,000 fund to cushion those experiencing loss of income, child-care challenges, and illness with one-time emergency grants.
Seattle Community Kitchen Collective
Beacon Hill's popular Filipino restaurant Musang is partnering with That Brown Girl Cooks, Guerilla Pizza Kitchen, and Feed the People Seattle to prepare food for those in need (including kids lacking school lunches) through their "Community Kitchen" program. You can donate via Chef Melissa Miranda's Venmo (@melmir).
Seattle's Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund
Local workers and families most affected by the COVID-19 crisis—including without insurance, those with comprimised immune systems, people experiencing homelessness, and undocumented workers—benefit most from this Seattle Foundation-housed fund. They've raised $14.3 million and are accepting donations to expand their program.
Seattle Sounders FC Relief Fund
The local pro soccer team announced a community relief fund on March 25, which was jumpstarted with an initial investment of $500,000 from Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer. In a press release, the team says that the fund will support individuals, nonprofits, and small businesses in the neighborhoods surrounding CenturyLink Field "that have been adversely impacted by the postponement of the 2020 MLS season due to the current public health crisis." Their goal is to distribute everything from groceries to rent assistance and monetary packages.
South Lake Union Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Fund
This fund was established to help support South Lake Union's small businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by COVID-19 and that don't meet the requirements for other grants. Their goal is to raise $250,000.
Space Waala Community Meals
The Indian street food vendor is offering 50 free meals every Monday and Tuesday from 5-7 p.m., available for pickup, until the COVID-19 crisis is over. They're accepting donations to keep the program going via Venmo (@uttammukh) and PayPal (email@example.com).
United Way King County Community Relief Fund
When you donate to this organization, you can direct your dollars to food relief, rental assistance, or "where the need is greatest," which is allocated to "people who are, and will be, in need" during this crisis.
Washington Food Fund
Because food banks are more essential than ever, this fund helps them can maintain their supply to ensure that those in need are getting enough to eat. Locally based organizations Food Lifeline, Northwest Harvest, and Second Harvest will use these funds to distribute food to hundreds of food banks across the state, including rural communities.
Washington State Student and Youth Homelessness COVID-19 Response Fund
Building Changes and the Raikes Foundation have started a fund in cooperation with the Office of Homeless Youth that's meant to enhance public funding for local school districts and help kids most affected by this crisis. They'll provide everything from financial assistance for housing to food and basic needs.
MUSIC & PERFORMANCE
Benefiting: musicians, performers, and performance venues.
ArtsFund supports the region’s nonprofit arts sector through grants and leadership and advocacy programs. They also provide a list of resources for artists to turn to during the COVID-19 crisis.
Art Saves Me
One Reel has awarded $5,000 in grants to artists impacted by COVID-19, and they're hoping to meet a new $15,000 goal to help more people.
Artist Trust Relief Fund
By donating here, you'll be helping working artists residing in Washington State whose livelihoods have been impacted by COVID-19 (e.g. generative individual artists, or "those who are the originators of works of art").
Intiman Theatre #ShareTheLove Campaign
The Cornish College of the Arts-owned theater has a #ShareTheLove campaign, 50% of proceeds from which will benefit COVID-19 relief funds and artists in the Intiman family.
PNB Emergency Relief Fund
After being forced to cancel all performances through the end of April, the Pacific Northwest Ballet is reaching out to the community. They write, "With little to no revenue coming in, PNB will lose over a million dollars this month and stands to lose over $1.5M in April if the ban continues." You can make a donation to their emergency fund on their website.
Seattle Artists Relief
In partnership with LANGSTON, Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want To Talk About Race?, started a GoFundMe for artists whose events have been canceled, which compliments Mayor Durkan's $1 million Arts Recovery Package. Oluo writes, "Depending on funding levels and amount of requests, priority may be given to artists from communities that have been historically and systemically economically disadvantaged in the Seattle Area: BIPOC artists, transgender & nonbinary artists, and disabled artists."
Seattle Musicians Access to Sustainable Healthcare
This nonprofit is dedicated to "keeping our music community thriving" by connecting local musicians to healthcare, dental services, and health education. They also provide a number of resources for struggling performers to check out, from rent support to virtual gig opportunities.
Seattle Music Teachers Fund
Organized by local bassist and composer Nate Omdal, this GoFundMe recognizes the large portion of Seattle musicians who teach lessons to make up a significant portion of their income—and whose livelihoods fall short of state requirements for state income programs like disability or worker’s compensation.
Washington Nightlife & Music Association COVID-19 Five-Step Plan
The Washington Nightlife & Music Association's COVID-19 Five-Step Plan aims to help with cash assistance ("not loans!"); rent forgiveness and reduction; financial payments and staff assistance; and tax and insurance relief for local music venues like Barboza, Belltown Yacht Club, Chop Suey, Clockout Lounge, Conor Byrne, Columbia City Theatre, the Crocodile, El Corazon, and many others.
P.S. We are also accepting donations! If you like this list, please consider donating to The Stranger so we can keep on keeping you informed. Through April 1, we will match our reader contributions in digital ad credit for three local organizations (the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, Northwest Harvest, and El Centro De La Raza) to assist in their outreach. Thank you!