Proposed Rules Would Impact Immigrant Families

The Trump administration has proposed changes to immigration rules that many experts believe could put the health of millions of families at risk. The proposed changes would expand the “public charge” rule so immigrants could be denied admission to the U.S. or permanent residency if they or their dependents use certain health, food, and housing programs. These changes could increase poverty, stress, and fear among immigrant communities.

These proposed changes have not yet been implemented. Public comment can have an impact on whether the changes are made.

What you can do:

  1. Make a comment in the federal register. Because the government must take all comments into account before finalizing the rule, you have the opportunity to affect the outcome. Advocates have come together to create an easy-to-use comment portal at ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.org. Using this portal, you can let the government know how this rule would affect you, your family, your community, and our country. If you do not want to include any personal information, a friend or representative can submit a comment for you. You have until Dec. 10 to submit comments.
  2. Make a comment on behalf of someone you know. You can submit multiple comments on behalf of friends, clients, or anyone who doesn’t want to disclose their personal information. This FAQ shares information about submitting comments on behalf of others, as well as submitting comments that have been translated into English.
  3. Share this information with your networks, and encourage them to speak out.

More information:

Building Toward Economic Security and Better Health

financial awareness class

Research shows that financial wellbeing is linked to physical health. For this reason, it’s no surprise that when G2L asked our SeaTac and Tukwila communities what stood between them and better health, the top answers were connected to economic security.

To start to address this issue, G2L examined how global health approaches economic development. Our research found that interventions tend to focus on improving access to income-generating opportunities and financial services.

Alongside many partners, we launched the Food Innovation Network to create economic development opportunities for low-income community members by helping aspiring entrepreneurs start food businesses.

More recently, we began work to improve access to financial services among community members who participate in our physical fitness classes, with the idea that, when our community health workers (CHWs) integrate financial and health education, we can improve outcomes in both areas.

Connecting the dots between wealth and health

With support from Northwest Area Foundation, we partnered with the Seattle-based nonprofit The Prosperity Agenda to train Somali and Latina CHWs to lead financial awareness classes. Those CHWs then invited their physical fitness class participants to join them for financial education.

“This program has been a need, and it’s been very helpful for the Latina community,” said CHW Monica Davalos, who leads classes in Spanish.

When Monica asked participants what they thought about their financial situation, she heard a wide range of responses. Some women managed their family’s finances and had a good handle on how financial services work. Others said that because their partners dealt with money, they didn’t know the basics. One participant said that when her 15-year-old daughter had asked her what “credit” meant, she didn’t know the answer.

“Even if you aren’t in charge of your family’s finances, this is important to know. Your kids will learn from you,” Monica told participants.

financial awareness class participants

Peer learning plays a key role in G2L’s financial awareness classes.

Monica covered a variety of topics, from how to open a checking account, to retirement planning. Through a combination of facilitated activities and peer learning, the participants enhanced their understanding of financial services, money management, and how economic wellbeing relates to their health.

In CHW Roda Sugulle’s sessions, Somali women also discussed the connections between financial and physical health, as well as barriers they face to economic stability. They shared that they not only support their families here in the U.S., but also loved ones who are still in Africa.

“There’s always someone else in need back home,” said program participant Amina, a mother of four who came to the Tukwila area from Somalia about 15 years ago. Taking care of these contingencies not only makes it hard to save, but also creates stress.

Roda encouraged participants to record their financial goals on their cell phones.

“If you have a plan, you can reduce your stress. When emergencies happen, you have a safety net,” Roda told participants.

Amina had always actively managed her finances, but hadn’t written down her thoughts. She reported that learning how to create a budget was the most useful takeaway from the sessions.

“Budgeting has helped me better understand how I spend money,” Amina said.

Roda also led discussions about credit cards, and checking and savings accounts. She heard that participants wanted savings accounts, but were wary of opening them because most accrue interest by default, and Islamic law prohibits paying or collecting interest. Language and cultural barriers to banking, as well as a lack of trust in the institutions, has kept them from opening accounts.

Looking forward

Aisha Dahir, who manages our CHW program, says it will take improved cultural competency at the financial institutions to fully break down these barriers to financial services. Our program partners are working with banks and credit unions to improve community members’ access.

Aisha noted that, outside of those established institutions, community members have developed their own informal systems of banking, including lending circles.

“We’re learning about these communities’ assets, such as informal banking, and the fact that there’s not much debt. We know these assets are what we need to build on as we move into the future,” Aisha said.

G2L will continue to refine our financial education program in partnership with our community. After a few rounds of classes, our approach already looks very different from other financial coaching programs.

“We’re seeing the community from a different angle, looking at how the social determinants of health, including economic factors, affect lives,” Aisha said.

And as important as financial education is, we know it’s only one small part of what’s needed to improve economic security and advance health equity. We’ll continue to advocate for systemic change to address the growing income inequality and other barriers that prevent community members from living healthy, prosperous lives.

Announcing Our New CEO

Jonathan Sugarman

Jonathan Sugarman, MD, MPH will join Global to Local next week as our CEO. With over three decades of experience improving health both domestically and internationally, Jonathan is well suited to build on Global to Local’s success in demonstrating how global health strategies can advance health equity in the United States. Communities around the country are interested in adapting the innovative programs we’ve piloted in SeaTac and Tukwila, from a smartphone app that helps patients control diabetes, to culturally appropriate fitness classes. Jonathan brings an ideal skill set to support the development of similar programs nationwide, starting with our upcoming projects in Cle Elum and Spokane.

Jonathan began his work leading health improvement efforts as an Indian Health Service physician on the Navajo Nation. He served as president and CEO of Qualis Health for nearly 20 years, guiding the Seattle-based nonprofit to national recognition as a leader in improving population health, particularly among vulnerable populations. He has held leadership roles in numerous local, state, and national associations, including the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Physicians Consortium for Performance Improvement. He is a technical facilitator for the Joint Learning Network for Universal Healthcare (JLN) People-Centered Integrated Care Collaborative. The JLN is an innovative, country-driven network of practitioners and policymakers from over 30 nations who co-develop global knowledge products that help bridge the gap between theory and practice to improve the health of more than 3 billion people.

Jonathan is a graduate of Harvard College, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine. He serves as a clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington, and as a lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

In an announcement message, Global to Local Board Chair Lisa Cohen wrote:

“Given these credentials, it is clear why Jonathan emerged as the most outstanding candidate during our five-month nationwide search to replace our founding executive director, Adam Taylor, whom we can’t thank enough for establishing Global to Local as a model for improving community health. We’re also grateful to A.J. McClure, who stepped in as interim executive director following Adam’s departure this summer. As deputy director, A.J. will continue to oversee our King County programs.

“We’re delighted to welcome Jonathan to our team, and look forward to his leadership – and your partnership – as we strive to advance health equity in South King County and beyond.”

Stay connected with G2L

Sign up for our email newsletter to receive updates on Global to Local’s work.

Green Smoothies and Lots of Learning at Summer Classes for Kids

Gali eyed a green beverage with suspicion on a recent Friday afternoon. She’d never heard of putting spinach in a smoothie before, but she took a chance, tried a sip, and was delighted to discover a new favorite drink.

Gali and her friends had concocted the smoothie at a summer class for youth held at Global to Local. Young members of the local Somali community who joined the four-class series learned about nutrition, enjoyed physical activities, and developed their leadership skills.

Nutrition class participants, including Hassan, concentrated hard to get their smoothie recipe just right!

Global to Local offered the summer program in partnership with Food $ense to help local youth develop healthy habits. Educating young people about their health not only sets them up to make good choices for themselves, but also to positively influence their families.

Community Health Worker (CHW) Abdi Hussein coordinated the class, one of many programs that Global to Local CHWs offer to help build a healthier community here in the SeaTac/Tukwila area. CHW activities range from organizing exercise and nutrition classes, to addressing barriers that prevent residents from visiting their primary care doctors.

Community Health Worker Abdi Hussein (left) laughed along with students as they played a game to learn about the effects of caffeine.

Our CHW work is inspired by the many global health programs that train trusted community members as health workers who operate outside of clinics to provide education, referrals, and social support for health behaviors. It’s just one of four initiatives that G2L has developed to improve community health.

Continued engagement

After school starts back up, Abdi will continue to keep in touch with the students and their families, who are his neighbors. Two of the students’ parents are joining a nutrition class that Abdi’s organizing in September. And he is working to connect the families with their primary care doctors. Through G2L’s partnership with HealthPoint, Abdi and other CHWs help families make medical appointments, communicate with clinicians, and follow through with prescriptions and doctor recommendations.

Global to Local is also engaging young people through our Green Cities partnership with Forterra. We’re inviting youth to give input about where trees should be added in their community, and then get hands-on planting trees! Contact Niesha Brooks, G2L’s leadership and engagement manager, if you have any questions or want to get involved.

By the way, we suspect there are more green smoothies in Gali’s future. A few days after that summer class, she called Abdi to tell him she’d made a batch for her whole family.

An outdoor activity not only helped students burn some energy, but also taught them about teamwork as they raced the clock to make a star shape with a rope.

Connectors Program Builds Community Power

In a place as diverse as Tukwila, where over 80 languages are spoken, it’s not easy for the city to engage all of its residents—particularly communities who face language and cultural barriers. In 2013, the city began working with G2L and Forterra to create the Community Connectors Program to help boost civic engagement.

Through this partnership, we recruit Community Connectors from groups that the city has a difficult time reaching through traditional outreach. Tukwila Connectors include members of the African-American, Latino, Somali and Burmese communities who have deep connections in their communities, and who are committed to facilitating outreach and communications.

Connectors join “City 101” trainings where they learn about things like how the city is structured, what different departments do, how the budget is developed, and what city council does.

“Knowledge is power — especially for people who are new to the country. They need to know the processes,” said Leadership and Engagement Manager Niesha Brooks, who runs the Connectors program.

Next, G2L and the city work together with the Connectors to identify priority projects that the Connectors can support, reaching out to their communities to seek input on things like the comprehensive plan, housing, safety, and economic development. Connectors also provide guidance to city staff on how to design and undertake comprehensive and effective outreach. These efforts ensure that the priorities of previously underrepresented groups are heard and incorporated into city work.

Community leadership advances community health

The Community Connectors program is key to G2L’s efforts to advance health equity in our region. We started our work in 2010 by asking community members to describe what a healthy community looks like to them. Many talked about feeling connected to their community, being able to access and navigate systems, and having a voice.

“This program is letting the Connectors and community members know that their voices are valid,” said Niesha.

As the Connectors program builds community voice, it also invests in the capacity of individual leaders.

“We want for the Connectors to gain experience and skills,” Niesha said. “They can take what they learn here, and join task forces and boards, and take on other leadership positions.”

Learn more

  • After pioneering Community Connectors in Tukwila, we partnered on a similar program with the City of Burien. Cityvision Magazine recently highlighted Burien’s Connectors program in an article on the city’s efforts to better serve its residents. You can read “A Right to Be Heard” online; the article starts on page 16.
  • Read Community Connectors program descriptions on the Tukwila and Burien city websites.
  • Keep visiting our website, where we’ll feature stories of Community Connectors. To receive updates about all things Global to Local, subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tukwila’s River Run Brings Diverse Communities Together for Healthy Fun

race participants at finish line

Dozens of participants in Global to Local community health programs gathered under a bright blue sky last weekend for the annual River Run 5K. Fitness enthusiasts, ranging in age from young children to grandparents, converged on the beautiful course, which followed the Duwamish River south of Tukwila Community Center.

race participants next to river

G2L fitness program participants have been running and walking in the race since 2014; it’s become a beloved tradition.

group of race participants

“Participating in this race has been really successful for us over the years, as it complements our physical activity programs,” said Community Health Worker (CHW) Monica Davalos, who has joined the event four times. “I like that the 5K is a motivation – it’s a challenge that most of our participants had never tried before. And when the race is over, they feel like they’ve really met their goals.”

race participants

The crowd reflected the diversity of South King County, with Somali and Latino communities particularly well represented thanks to recruitment by CHWs.

“By participating in the walk/run each year, we’re integrating our communities into public activities and making them visible. The CHW team brings awareness and makes the process of participating in these activities easier for our communities, thus removing barriers,” said CHW Program Manager Aisha Dahir.

participants run to finish line

“It was great to bring diverse communities together,” added CHW Diana Melgoza. “Being able to all have the same goal — same start, same finish — and encouraging and motivating each other was really fun. It was my first time doing a race, and I want to do it again!”

Check out more photos from the event on our Facebook page. And while you’re there, “Like” our page to keep up with all things Global to Local!

Community Health Workers

G2L currently employs five CHWs, including Monica and Diana, who support Tukwila and SeaTac residents in improving their health and fitness. Their activities range from organizing exercise and nutrition classes, to addressing barriers that prevent residents from visiting their primary care doctors.

Our CHW program is inspired by the many global health programs that train trusted community members as health workers who operate outside of clinics to provide education, referrals, and social support for health behaviors.

The initiative is one of four programs for improving community health that G2L has developed with the goal of helping communities around the country adapt the programs to serve their needs.

Tukwila Parks and Recreation, a key partner

Big thanks to our friends at Tukwila Parks and Recreation, who organize the race each year and have long been fantastic partners in supporting the health and fitness of our community. Watch our video to learn about another of our collaborations, a fitness program at Tukwila Community Center that creates a culturally appropriate space for Somali women to improve their health.

Friends, Fun, and Food at Our Community Open House

Guests of all ages at the open house

Community members, partners, and supporters packed Global to Local’s office this spring for our first community open house. More than 150 guests of all ages joined us for fun activities, delicious food, and a chance to learn about our work.

One popular activity invited guests to fill out signs sharing what leadership means to them. Our staff then spoke with participants about the importance of community leadership in deciding how systems serve them.

G2L staff member Niesha Brooks and a guest share their thoughts about leadership.

In another corner of the office, guests spun a wheel filled with topics like “diabetes” and “public health vs. health care.” Lucky winners walked away with more knowledge about staying healthy and prizes for answering questions related to the topic they spun.

G2L staff lead a health activity.

Throughout the evening, guests learned more about the range of work G2L does, from organizing fitness classes to training residents to lead civic engagement efforts, and from operating the Connection Desk to supporting the Congolese Integration Network. Guests who were familiar with only some of our programs were excited to learn about other aspects of our work.

Floribert Mubalama from Congolese Integration Network talks with a guest.

Naija Buka and Soozveen Mediterranean Catering provided delicious food for the evening. Both businesses are operated by food entrepreneurs who participate in the Incubator Program at Food Innovation Network, which was launched by Global to Local to create pathways for health, wealth, and success through food system revitalization in South King County.

food

Grown-ups had a great time, but the kids seem to have had even more fun! We’re always delighted when families engage with our work, and we loved getting to know the next generation of leaders.

Big thanks to everyone who made our open house a success! Special thanks to volunteer photographers Ken Tran and Cordell Pierce; you can see more of their photos on our event Facebook album.

Upcoming events

We’d love to see you again soon at these upcoming events:

A New Adventure for Executive Director Adam Taylor

G2L staff share their ideas about leadership

G2L staff share their ideas about leadership; Executive Director Adam Taylor’s sign reads, “Leadership is a voice for all.” Having spent eight years helping to build leadership in South King County and at G2L, Adam is moving on to new adventures. Image credit: Ken Tran.

 

After leading G2L for eight years, Founding Executive Director Adam Taylor will step down from his position on June 29 to begin a yearlong travel adventure with his family. In his announcement, Adam wrote, “Global to Local has never been stronger, which is why I have decided this is the right time for this transition. Our staff of over 20 is exceptional, our funding is solid, our partnerships are deep, and we are seeing the impact of our work every day.”

G2L Board Chair Dan Dixon highlighted some of Adam’s accomplishments in a message to our newsletter subscribers:

“A few examples of Adam and the G2L team’s work include development of a nationally recognized diabetes management program that utilizes highly efficient and cost-effective health promoters and a smart phone app that dramatically improves the wellness of users with diabetes. This program is now being launched in the Swedish System. Adam has also worked tirelessly with dozens of community partners and with support from the Seattle Foundation and King County to develop a Food Innovation Network that is launching new food businesses and improving access to healthy foods.

“Adam has engaged corporate and government partners along with universities and community groups to pursue distinctive avenues of innovation, from economic literacy and job training and placement to primary health care. One of the signature achievements of Adam’s tenure, in partnership with HealthPoint, was development of the Connection Desk that enabled thousands of individuals to sign up for the Affordable Care Act and other important services ranging from housing to employment and much more.”

Identifying G2L’s Next Leader

G2L’s board has already launched a national search for our next executive director, with the goal of having someone in place by the end of June. Details about the position are posted here; we hope you will share this opportunity with your networks.

We will keep you updated through our email newsletter; if you aren’t already subscribed, we invite you to sign up now.

The GOOD and the BAD of Technology

Watch out, Seattle is climbing to one of the city top tech cities in the U.S.   With this new wealth, comes both benefits and problems.  If you tallied up the value of all of the housing stock in Seattle in 2017, it would add up to about $645 billion, more than the gross domestic product of Argentina.  Even more remarkable, that figure shot up nearly 12 percent in a single year, compared with 2016.

Ongoing construction in Seattle’s downtown core.

The net worth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, soared to $105.1 billion in January, placing him ahead of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, whose net worth was valued at a slight less-astounding $93.3 billion.  Both of their companies provide nearly 100,000 tech jobs opportunities.  Based on a recent report, there are 134,000 tech jobs in Seattle, a 33 percent increase since 2011. And these workers are well-paid, with an average wage of $113,906.   With many jobs opportunities comes many newcomers.

 

 

According to King5 News, nearly 21, 000 people— 57 per day—moved into the city between July 1, 2015- and July 1, 2016.  As a result, Seattle placed 10th as the most expansive market for both apartments and office spaces.  To illustrate, the prices for the average apartment rent in the Seattle metro area at $1,640 per month, a 37 percent increase since 2011.  Furthermore, Seattle’s new median price for a single-family house is $729,000, up by 13.7 percent from a year earlier.  Skyrocketing housing prices and increasing traffic congestion are eroding our quality of life and causing many residents to relocate to other parts of the country.  In Silicon Valley’s case, this resulted in many becoming homeless.  And to add injury to insult, many of the homeless work regular jobs, in some cases serving the very people whose sky-high net worth is the reason housing has become so unaffordable.

Brian Biege, first vice president in CBRE’s Bellevue office claimed “Although rental rate in core submarkets in the region have gone up, it’s clear that dollar-for-dollar, Seattle continues to offer more options than some of the other large technology hubs across the nation” As a result, it often seems like Seattle is getting younger all the time, and there definitely has been a big influx of fresh-faced techies into the city in recent years.  Seattle’s population of 20-somethings living in the downtown core increased by 16 percent since 2010.  Correlated, Seattle is the most educated market in the nation according to the same report, with 62.1 percent of all resident over 25 possessing at least a bachelor’s degree.

Higher education should improve one’s quality and quantity of life.  According to an article from Sightline Institute, “If Seattle were an independent nation, its life expectancy would rank second, just a month behind Japan’s”, Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world of 83.84 years. However, which population does this data represent?

With this new culture way of life, they are many good outcomes and many destructive results.  The disparity in many social, political, and economic aspects of life fall beyond our control as the Seattle’s market getting more competitive each day. What can be done about this growing inequality? And how do you define your role in this community?

 

By: Sopheakvatey Chey

The Power of the Connection Desk

I recently spent some time getting to know all of our programs from a community level. In December, I volunteered at the Connection Desk and got to see the power of what makes it work. Communities aren’t simply connected to social and health services. Rather, they are given a helping hand to improve their daily lives. In doing so, you empower people and give them the ability to believe in themselves and others.

Imagine yourself in need of help paying rent or to enroll in health insurance. Maybe this isn’t too far off from reality. But if you haven’t been in these shoes, think of having no option except to ask a stranger for help. At the Connection Desk, you enter the door and are immediately greeted by warm faces. Those faces are intentionally there to make you feel welcomed and supported. First, you’ll enter brief information about yourself and the type of services or resources you need. Then a program coordinator will patiently walk you through the necessary steps for registration for the Affordable Health Care, utility assistance, housing, resume building and much more.

I had the opportunity to work with a newcomer that was in need of a resume and finding job opportunities. As we began to build his resume, he started to talk. By listening, we had the chance to learn about each other and hear each other’s stories. In the end, it was more than just resources. We began to have an honest human connection, valuing and validating the social experience.

 

By Niesha Brooks
Leadership & Engagement Manager