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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cascade People’s Center to Close After City Cuts Funding

posted by on November 6 at 16:16 PM

South Lake Union’s Cascade People’s Center (CPC) is finally closing.

The CPC has provided free after school programs, support groups, language classes to immigrant families and services for the homeless in South Lake Union for the last ten years, but will close on December 31st unless the center can secure $75,000 in funding.

CPC almost shut down last year, but the city council gave CPC $100,000 to stay open and develop a financial plan.

CPC Program Director Myla Becker says the center’s been working to raise money but has asked the city council to fund them for an additional year. “Basically we heard, ‘we like what you’re doing,’” Becker says, “but nobody was willing to write a [budget request] for the funding.”

Becker says CPC had planned to hold an auction and fund raising dinner in the next few months, but now it’s unlikely the events will happen if the center isn’t able to come up with additional money by the end of the year.

“The struggle is that ultimately we need two years of [funding] so that we can build the funding capacity for the next two years,” Becker says.

Becker says the center raised almost $60,000 from foundation grants, individual contributors and last year’s auction, which raised about $40,000. The year before, it only brought in $6,000. “The capacity [for fundraising] is there,” Becker says. “We really just need the time.”

RSS icon Comments


thats too bad. anyone on slog willing to donate time or money?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | November 6, 2008 4:28 PM

Does anyone more familiar with this than I am maybe know the best way to help these guys out at this point? Do they just need $75,000 from somewhere to get through the next year and stay open?

I am feeling immensely civic right now and would like to help.

Posted by Billy Nilly | November 6, 2008 4:39 PM

Thats too bad. Maybe Paul Allens Vulcan Real estate should donate some money?
They pretty much own that neighborhood and the community center is one of the only things that makes that area seem homey and livable.

Posted by coolio | November 6, 2008 4:42 PM

this is really unfortunate and this center is probably not the only one. when i lived in seattle i sat on the board of a small non-profit (the Children's Trust Foundation) that funded programs in these family centers state-wide. they were always struggling and many of them did not have the proper resources for development. if i had money (which i don't) i'd fund them in a heartbeat - this is a good center and the loss to the people it serves will be immense when it has to close its doors.

Posted by xina | November 6, 2008 4:46 PM

No, can't help those folks. You see, we used up all our political capital to sell everyone on the fantasy of a new bio hub down here, and we got:

--a newpower station (suck it up ratepayers!)

--a new park on the lake

--we're getting a new $200 million remodel of Mercer Street even though this slows traffic down, but it really helps perk up our real estate values!!

--we're going to benefit a lot from that $600 million going into the Seattle Center to spruce it up, it's another neighborhood park for those who will buy our $2 million condos!!

-and we got a $50 million streetcar !!

So not unfortunately we can't help with the $75,000.

Maybe they can all move out of town, like to Renton or perhaps Ellensburg? It might be a mistake to try and have social services/poor people in the city, where land costs seem to be high. Poor planning on their part, alas!

Posted by Paul Allen | November 6, 2008 4:49 PM

Yeah, Paul Allen could make himself look really good by stepping in with the money to save the day. But who can pitch it to him the right way? What about someone at the dailies?

Posted by leek | November 6, 2008 5:10 PM

and a community center that raised money from the community?

I don't get this exactly.

Posted by Adam | November 6, 2008 5:25 PM

Let's be honest. If Vulcan wanted the Cascade People's Center to continue operations, the City would have found the money, no questions asked.

Posted by Trevor | November 6, 2008 5:34 PM

I've been involved in the center for 4 years and am heart broken at the thought of it closing. It is one of the few remaining places where people get to be involved in their community and help shape what it looks like. People have voices there. And it doesn't matter if they live in the condos next door or in public housing downtown. Everyone benefits from this amazing and unique program in our city.

Please write to your city council members and tell them how important Cascade People's Center is!

Posted by Marty | November 6, 2008 7:37 PM

I'm sure they do worthwhile work but 10 years is a long to get finances in order.
I think Trevor is right if there was a will there would be a way.

Posted by Zander | November 6, 2008 8:15 PM

This is very disappointing. But, we can't give up! Where there is a will there's a way, right? Right!

HEAL has been using the Cascade People's Center for years. It is an important community resource for nonprofit organizations and our community.

Whether we need to call on corporate sponsorship or do some lightening-quick grassroots fundraising, it will be done. The city of Seattle needs to realize what a valuable resource Cascade People's Center is and how many low-income families and children are aided by its services and programs.

We can't afford to lose it. And, I think $75,000 is better used for Cascade People's Center than for any silly "sports" or "entertainment" budget. Let's get real. People matter. When times are tough, we need to keep those projects and facilities like the Cascade People's Center for those in need and cut the "luxury" items. If those who can afford entertainment want to "save" them, then they can foot the bill.

We'll fight for the Center, will you join us?

Posted by Angela Smith | November 6, 2008 8:21 PM

This is a PUBLIC place which deserves PUBLIC funding. The City itself benefits from it's existence. There have been City groups who use the space...why? Because there is no public library, public school, public gathering space within miles. Cascade People's Center not only provides free programs and free space, but also serves to make the South Lake Union community livable for low-income folks. Among many other initiatives, CPC has been working with community members and businesses to start a farmer's market which would not only serve their low-income constituents, but the community as a whole.
Without the Center at the heart of South Lake Union, I fear that the neighborhood will lose it's grounding in PEOPLE and will be swallowed by the ideals of developers. But, maybe that's what the City wants...shiny LEED certified buildings with no soul. Let's not forget that sustainability doesn't work unless you have PEOPLE who are stewards to their environment.
I urge the City Council to question their value systems and to be transparent with their decision making. If it is development that they value, they are going to see the implications of forgetting about the PEOPLE who live there.

Posted by i heart cascade | November 6, 2008 9:27 PM

This is heart-breaking, Cascade is one of the last places left in Seattle that is by and for the people. It serves countless families and individuals, not to mention what it does for those of us lucky enough to have volunteered at Cascade--of course, we're not the people The City Council or Paul Allen care about, but we are Seattle.

Posted by abbey | November 6, 2008 10:54 PM

This slog entry doesn't state it but my understanding is that the budget/finance plan they were to develop (when the city gave them the lifeline last year) never materialized much less happened.

Despite some of your postings there are actually several public meeting spaces "within miles" of this location and tons of city funded public/social service organizations.

We have an extraordinarily tight budget cycle coming up and the writing on the wall was crystal clear last year..... "Develop a sustainable budget/finance plan on the last year of city funding" ....

From what I understand they offer a great service but so do crossing guards, librarians, and firefighters. Everyone else's budget is being slashed beyond belief, why not non-essential services?

Maybe we could add a tax to escort ads in weekly papers. $.50 per ad should clear more than enough to fund CPC.... or, better yet, maybe the Stranger and Weekly could just donate said amount.

As for me, the taxpayer in Seattle, I'm going to be broke enough paying for the parks levy, the market levy, the remainder of the fire levy, and ST2. Maybe CPC should write a levy!

Posted by take a hint | November 7, 2008 1:22 AM

Building a sustainable non-profit is absolutey acheivable if you are given the time to do so. My understanding is that after cascade was dropped from the human services budget they were given one year to make up for $300,000 which was covered by city funding. They have worked extremely hard in the last year to diversify funding sources through foundations and individual donors. I beleive the strategic plan called for less than a third of city funding-- weening them off public funding slowly. But sustainability doesn't come overnight...or in a year. Change and growth take time. Granting CPC a third of what used to be funded from the city seems not only fair, but necessary. And times are tight, the economy is getting worse everyday, taxpayers are cautious; but what are we going to do in Seattle when we start to feel those effects of hungry families and more folks
finding themselves without a home? Social services like CPC are more
necessary now than ever before. That is why I ask the City to be
transparent. What resources for PEOPLE are going into south lake union?

Posted by I heart cascade | November 7, 2008 9:06 AM

Two things to note: First, the CPC is holding a fund raiser TONIGHT (Friday) beginning at 7:30. Everyone looking for a way to help should show up. It's billed as a "beer festival," featuring a variety of beers, all brewed with hops from the same vines. Orkestar Zirconium and something called the Bicycle Choir will there as will "the enigmatic concertina squeezer Steve Arntson." The $10 tickets support the weekly free breakfast served at Cascade People's Center.

Obviously I'm a big fan and financial donor to the CPC, and it's worth noting that Vulcan has been a major supporter for the past few years. They haven't given them their entire budget, it's true, but they regularly donate 20 grand or more at the annual auction. Of course they could give more, but they are reasonably asking the CPC to step up their own fund raising efforts, which is happening very slowly owning to all kinds of problem inside and outside of the CPC's control. The situation is a drag, but it's not ALL Vulcan's fault.

Posted by Gurldoggie | November 7, 2008 10:04 AM

Cascade lost another albeit small community asset this week, Kapow!. The P-Patch is probably next.

Posted by beth | November 7, 2008 12:43 PM

This is super frustrating. I sent them a pretty large donation YESTERDAY, because I know how much they have been struggling. Can't we just siphon off the parks levy somehow?

Posted by Erica | November 7, 2008 11:14 PM

Apparently prevention programs aren't flashy enough to fund. When will funders and politicians learn that band-aid approaches don't work? Yes, we need direct service providers but IN CONJUNCTION WITH prevention programs, capacity-building initiatives, and systemic changes. Duh.

Apparently the work that CPC does is too revolutionary to be funded by the city, foundations, corporations, or bloated non-profits. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise--hopefully the awesome work being done in the Cascade neighborhood will continue outside of the walls of CPC. Keep on keepin' on!

Posted by I love you Seattle, but you're bringing me down... | November 9, 2008 3:14 PM

Never forget we have the power to accomplish anything by WILL and LOVE. SO discipline your minds and take action!

We're shooting some videos down at Cascade on Wednesday the 12th. Featuring interviews with staff, volunteers, and center users, these call to action viral videos will tell people all about the situation down at Cascade and what they can do.

RIch people use the internet, right? So maybe they'll get the message when we fill their inboxes with an important message from CPC. Come down and help out, get interviewed on Wednesday if you have the time.

Also, we're doing a MUSIC JAM on Sunday the 16th. Lively up the neighborhood and get people talking about the place!

Posted by Nic Nakis | November 11, 2008 10:27 AM

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