Mari Horita had the Seattle South Park neighborhood on her mind, known as Duwamish Valley and located approximately eight miles south of Climate Pledge Arena, with a reported concern.
In that neighborhood, an adult lifespan shorter of 13 years in the area exists as compared to other affluent local neighborhoods. Children are three times likelier to be hospitalized with asthma, a common respiratory condition that narrows airways to the lungs and limits breathing, often due to insufficient air quality.
“When you hear and see that in our backyard, it’s sort of appalling,” said Horita. “You can’t help but say, ‘what can we do?’”
Horita, who serves in the Seattle Kraken front office as Vice President of Community Engagement and Social Impact, said those conversations are designed to bring progress for a better place to live.
For one prior example, the Kraken on a general scale have been vocal with sharing work in the area through research and relationships with civic leaders and experts, in an effort to bring substantial improvements to local living conditions. Taking that a step further, their pocketbook has opened up further to enhance that mission on a deeper level.
With a donation from Kraken ownership group led by David Bonderman and Samantha Holloway, a projected total of over a million dollars for the entire season’s slate of home games in 2022-23 has been pledged for future civic honorees, tied to a project unveiled on Tuesday as the Kraken United Fund Together with Starbucks and split to $32,000 each home game to a selected civic honoree.
Each game’s grant then will be re-distributed to a non-profit entity of the honoree’s choice.
It began as the highly visible Starbucks Community Stars program, seen at every Kraken home game, used to honor local and various local civic leaders during commercial timeouts last season. It will now take another step in the drive of civic progress.
“We know that the Pacific Northwest is home to both people and organizations doing amazing work to unite our community,” said Kraken chief executive officer Tod Leiweke in a team statement. “Our ownership group is dedicated to this region and making us better together and I am excited to see the impact of the grants.”
Nominees can be submitted through the Kraken’s charitable website, www.onerooffoundation.org. Support from the grants connected to each game will come from the One Roof Foundation, designed to eliminate youth homelessness, improve environmental living conditions, and even youth access to hockey.
“Sports are great for kids in a million ways,” said Horita, who pointed to one example of the Kraken working with the King County Play Equity Coalition. “For physical activity, for mental acuity, for social and mental development. And all kids should get to play, but all kids don’t.”
“It’s based on research – we’re figuring out, how do we support those organizations that are really working front lines and serving kids and families?”
Submissions for nominees will be accepted through August 1, open to residents in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana. Nominees will then undergo a review from the Kraken’s established One Roof Foundation board, asked to outline their most outstanding features from community service before potential selection at each home game.
At the end of the season, the team will partner with Starbucks for an annual end-of-season event to recognize all civic honorees and their chosen non-profits. Horita said plans are underway with Starbucks for the event’s development.
“It’s really important for them to bring this community of inspiring individuals together,” said Horita.
“As a part of our continued Community Impact Partnership, we’re looking forward to growing and evolving our community recognition program under the new name, Kraken Unity Fund Together with Starbucks, to uplift and support so many great nonprofit organizations in the Pacific Northwest,” said Starbucks vice president of U.S. community impact Camile Hymes in the Kraken statement.
The Kraken schedule for the upcoming 2022-23 regular season has yet to be announced.