Mayor Mike McGinn announced a $20,000 matching grant from the city Tuesday for a cash-strapped Seattle center for homeless youth called Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS). The Capitol Hill center came close to closing last week, but an influx of donations large and small amounting to $85,000 so far has kept it alive.
“I’m issuing a challenge to Seattle here,” McGinn said at the 1814 Summit Ave. center. “For every dollar donated to this organization, the city will match it up to $20,000.”
The grant money will come from the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Youth Development Fund.
“When we heard about what was happening to PSKS we could not stand by knowing that we had these grant dollars that were unallocated and not use them,” Parks superintendent Christopher Williams said. “We don’t come near to doing what PSKS does for young people. It’s really providing that next level of support, services and case management which is really important to help young people move from where they are to off the streets.”
McGinn said that although the center received enough donations in the past two weeks to survive for a couple more months, the city wanted to help the center gain financial stability for the next year and beyond. Grant opportunities the 18-year-old center had relied on in years past have increasingly dried up and left its board and executive director, Elaine Simons, thinking the center might have to permanently close last week.
“It was a scary place to go,” Simons said about handling the center’s dire financial situation. She co-founded PSKS with about 15 of her students and based the center at her home during its first three years.
“I am committed to bringing healing to this agency because I do not want to lose the belief the community, the mayor and the superintendent and everyone in this room has in us,” Simons said.
This weekend, the center’s board, staff and the youth who use the center will meet to take a closer look at the PSKS budget and how to fund it more sustainably.
“We were always focused on grants, but with the influx of new donors, we can really be more strategic about how we fund the center,” said PSKS board member Stacy Segal.
Donations to the center can be made via the PSKS page on The Seattle Foundation website.