Our foundation will be specific about how to generate social change in a trio of ‘primary impact’ areas: youth homelessness, access and opportunities in youth hockey and environmental justice
By Bob Condor
There is a perceived power of threes. The newly announced One Roof Foundation embodies the belief.
The 501c3 nonprofit organization launched by the Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena will leverage its resources and shared values to achieve social change in three specific target areas:
+ Forge a holistic and long-term partnership with YouthCare to help end youth homelessness in our region.
+ Create access and opportunity in hockey and life for marginalized and BIPOC youth.
+ Elevate the voices and support communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.
“These primary impact pillars will help One Roof Foundation realize our vision of a more equitable society and a healthy planet where all people can realize a brighter future,” says Mari Horita, Kraken vice president of community engagement and social impact. “We are setting a new normal for what inclusion and representation means in sports and community.”
Each of One Roof Foundation’s three pillars are intentional about inclusion and creating opportunities. Here’s a deeper look at the end goal of each pillar and how One Roof aims to reach it:
Ending Youth Homelessness
The foundation’s long-term and holistic partnership with YouthCare includes traditional funding and fundraising support, plus marketing visibility that comes with a major sports team. But the most vital element of the partnership is creating jobs and mentorship.
“Our goal is to change the lives of these young people,” says Horita. “We want to move the needle in the battle against youth homelessness and perhaps even create a model that other organizations can use to address complicated and important issues in our society.”
In Washington state, more than 40,000 public school students were homeless or facing housing insecurity last year.
Founded in 1974, YouthCare was one of the first shelters to serve runaway and homeless youth on the West Coast. YouthCare now provides shelter, housing, education and employment training to over 1,500 deserving young people a year so that they have the hope, skills and self-confidence needed to thrive.
“We are the prevention strategy for youth homelessness [in the Seattle area),” says Melinda Giovengo, YouthCare CEO. “A young person who is couch-surfing from garage to garage is youth homelessness. We lay framework mindful that every child deserves a good meal and a place to sleep. But these young people all deserve a future. We can’t do that without partnerships to provide jobs and career opportunities.”
Creating Access and Opportunity in Hockey to BIPOC Youth
“Even though we know all kids want to play, they don’t all get to play,” says Horita. “As a professional sports team, we have an obligation and unique opportunity to reverse the trend.”
Research shows sports and play help kids stay physically and mentally healthy, develop social and emotional skills, and succeed in school, work, and life. But in King County, Horita says access to youth sports “increasingly depends on household income, primary language spoken at home and zip code.”
One Roof Foundation and the Seattle Kraken intends to break down barriers to all forms of hockey so that all kids can play.
“We will work in and with historically underserved and BIPOC communities to bring ball hockey to schools, nonprofits and community centers,” states Kyle Boyd, Kraken director of youth & community development. “We will also ensure broad and equitable access to ice time and programming at the Kraken Training Center.”
Supporting communities disproportionately impacted by climate change
Low-income and predominantly BIPOC neighborhoods in our region face a higher degree of environmental risk factors such as proximity to polluted waterways, busy streets and highways, industrial sites and dilapidated infrastructure. These negative effects compound the issue of gaining entry to safe fields, courts and open spaces to play.
One Roof Foundation will partner with and support these communities to both offset the impacts of climate change and provide access to safe places to play. Horita says “elevating voices” in disproportionately impacted communities is part of the action plan.
“The third pillar of environmental justice evolved out of our relations with Amazon and the Climate Pledge [committing signatories to establish their companies, partnerships and organizations to be net zero carbon by 2040],” says Horita. “The same communities One Roof Foundation is looking to support in our other impact areas face higher environmental risks. We will understand the issues and lean into to how we can make a meaningful difference in the space.”
One Roof Foundation has already established significant relationships and put resources (funds, marketing and sponsorship support, outreach events, volunteer efforts and more) related to each pillar. The pillars will produce symbiotic approaches and results.
“We believe that issues like homelessness, racism and inequity of opportunity affect all of us, not just the targeted populations,” says Horita. “We are all in this together – under One Roof. We know we have an incredible opportunity and obligation to be part of the positive change in our region, so that everyone feels seen and valued.”
Horita has told more than one group of community leaders that the work and commitment of the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena won’t stop with designated staff members or providing funds. She says by experience over the last two years—when she joined as an early executive to build a foundation alongside those constructing the team and a brand-new arena under a historic roof that is its own significant nod to community, past, present and future.
“We are 100-plus strong people [in the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena with many more joining full- or part-time by fall],” says Horita. “Everyone is fully connected to One Roof and our values. It’s in our DNA. We will never give up. We acknowledge we have a long way to go on this journey and will learn from our mistakes, get smarter and keep moving forward.”