Tefsa Program


Grantee: Southeast Seattle Education Coalition
Timeframe: November 2020 – May 2021 | Amount: $20,000


Started as a community response to COVID-19 in March 2020, the Tesfa Program provides regular culturally appropriate, and accessible health information to the local Ethiopian community. The mission of the Tesfa Program is to reduce the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 and other diseases on the Ethiopian immigrant community in King County.

The Tesfa Program will improve health outcomes for the Ethiopian community by furthering the efforts of healthcare providers and public health officials by encouraging healthy behaviors in a culturally competent manner. The Tesfa Program will help people better understand systems so they may better access health, food, and basic needs programs. The Tesfa Program will connect people with resources to keep them healthy during this difficult time.

The Tesfa Program serves the 13,000+ Ethiopian immigrants living in King County. Ethiopians make up the largest portion of the overall East African population in Seattle and King County. Almost all of the participants are Amharic-only speakers or have limited English skills.

The Tesfa Program’s goals are to:

  • Use COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to increase the short term and long term health resilience of the Ethiopian community in King County
  • Encourage mask-wearing, staying home and other behaviors that prevent or lessen the spread of COVID-19 and other conditions
  • Empower communities to seek medical treatment and preventive healthcare for COVID-19 and other conditions (e.g.COVID-19 testing)
  • Educate communities on COVID-19 vaccination, including schedules and access upon development/release (estimated in early to late 2021)
  • Combat misinformation and conspiracy theories with accurate and timely information that takes into account the cultural context of communities.
  • Support basic needs access to communities impacted by COVID-19’s economic effects, such as food, unemployment, and medical benefits programs.

As the pandemic evolves, The Tesfa Program will continue to work in real-time to curate, translate, and personalize the public health guidelines as they impact the community. To do this, programming is addressing the following health issues:

  • COVID-19 vaccine and community distribution.
  • Special considerations for people with pre-existing conditions (i.e. those with other diseases who may be at higher risk).
  • Unintended health consequences of not continuing medical care during the pandemic, such as delaying vaccinations, avoiding the emergency room for emergencies, not seeking mental health support,
  • Promote healthy behaviors during the pandemic, such as physical exercise which decreases obesity and poor mental health
  • How to communicate with doctors if you can’t go in-person (e.g. when to go in-person versus not, telemedicine)
  • Working with health care interpreters
  • Building trust with healthcare provider (also addressing distrust)
  • Local COVID-19 trends including racial disparities on Black and immigrant people

About Our Grantee

Southeast Seattle Education Coalition

Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) is a coalition of Community Based Organizations schools, educators, community leaders, parents and caregivers, and concerned SE Seattle residents working to improve education for all children, especially those in SE Seattle and those farthest away from educational justice. SESEC’s mission is to rally communities of color and allies to improve Southeast Seattle schools so all students succeed and all families are empowered.

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