Generational Wealth

What is generational wealth?

Working Definition: Investments in Generational Wealth grow assets that people are able to transfer between generations.

The City of Seattle’s Generational Wealth Initiative is committed to finding community-centered solutions to our city’s longstanding racial wealth gap. Our work was sparked by the 2020 protests that followed the murder of George Floyd and is deeply rooted in the movement for racial justice.

We recognize that government has hindered the efforts of Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) communities to build wealth, and that intentionally designed policies and practices have funneled money away from communities of color. We also recognize the tireless efforts of community members and organizations to create pathways around those barriers.

The Generational Wealth Initiative aims to support those efforts and collaborate with community to develop solutions to the racial wealth gap. We are researching wealth-building strategies that have worked in other cities, unifying City staff and programs, and making meaningful investments in our community.

  • Community Roundtable: The Roundtable helps build a vision for how the City supports BIPOC communities in building generational wealth, both now and in the future. Participants represent both community members who currently serve on the City’s equity-focused advisory groups and folks engaging with government for the first time.
  • Building Community Partnership: In partnership with Headwater People, we are building relationships and seeking to collaborate with community-based organizations, with an emphasis on those that serve people most impacted by the racial wealth divide.
  • Understanding City Programs: In partnership with The Vida Agency, we are building an inventory of existing City wealth-building programs. In the coming months, we will build a website where community members can access all these programs (and more) at once, creating a one-stop-shop for wealth-building programs.
  • Participatory Research: In partnership with People’s Economy Lab, we are researching strategies other cities have used to support BIPOC communities in building wealth. Final research products will incorporate community stories, including histories of the racial wealth divide in the South Park, Central District, Chinatown International District, and Pioneer Square neighborhoods.
  • Direct Investments: Through the Community Roundtable, we will invest $2 million in community organizations to support and develop their own approaches to financial literacy.
  • Internal Systems Change: To change City systems and build internal support for wealth-building programs, we have built a working group made up of employees from a dozen City departments and launched a training series for City employees to learn about the racial wealth gap and discover their role in solutions.

We Want to Hear From You

Are you or your organization already doing this work? Do you want support or partnership, or just want to share your vision for building generational wealth? We’d love to listen! Reach out to ericka.ward@seattle.gov.

Connect With Us at These Events:

Median Household Net Worth by Race and Education, USA, 2014

Graph showing net worth broken out by race
Source: Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity | Insight Center for Community Economic Development | April 2018

What is the Racial Wealth Gap?

“U.S. history is like a series of pipes, funneling wealth to a privileged few. This inequality compounds over generations.”
            -- Ebony White, Director of Racial Economic Justice, Prosperity Now

It was our honor to host Ebony White, the Director of Racial Justice at Prosperity Now, to share insights from her groundbreaking research into Seattle’s racial wealth gap. More than 100 City of Seattle employees joined to learn about Seattle’s history of economic injustice and the racial wealth gap as it exists today, and to discuss a framework for solving the divide.

You can watch Ebony’s session at this link.

Seattle Redlining Map and Seattle Median Income by Census Tract

Seattle redlining map  Median Household income by census tract

Seattle Redlining Map, 1936; Seattle Median Income by Census Tract, Source: Racial Wealth Divide in Seattle | Prosperity Now | March2021