Reflecting on 2020 in the U District

The U District Partnership is honored to support our University District community as we work to share this vibrant and historically significant neighborhood with visitors near and far. In a year that brought hardship to so many, the call to our mission was even stronger.

We want to thank everyone who visited, ordered takeout, and shopped and supported businesses in the University District this past year.  And a special thank you to the UDP and UDBIA boards and chairs for their incredible leadership, to our staff and Ambassador team for their tireless efforts, and to all of the community volunteers and partners for their incredible support.

As we look forward to emerging from the pandemic in the year ahead, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few highlights from 2020 in our efforts to serve all who live, work, and visit the University District:


  • Supported businesses during the pandemic closures by providing PPE equipment, sharing emergency grant and loan information, and assisting businesses with support application processes.
                Provided PPE Equipment including but not limited to face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant to 50+ businesses.
  • Created a GoFundMe campaign and provided 300+ lunches to UW medical staff from five BIPOC-owned businesses.
  • Made the U District available to visit online with the launch of our new online neighborhood guide, – is a virtual platform that connects consumers to U District businesses, their unique products or services, and provides a cohesive online presence for our small businesses. Through advertising, we reached over 90,000 consumers in 2020 to bring awareness and drive sales to 200+ businesses throughout the U District. Have a businesses in the U District that is not yet represented on this site? Register your business here.
  • Hosted the hybrid virtual/in-person “Up Your Ave” event –  with 29 participating businesses throughout the Ave (from 41st – Ravenna) we were able to engage 2,400 consumers online and 400 scavenger hunt participants.
  • Started the 43rd St Junction Campaign to support the eight businesses most directly affected by SDOT construction.


  • Launched the installation of temporary storefront murals during closures – With the Governor’s orders in March to close non-essential businesses, many of our retailers, restaurants, and bars covered their storefronts with temporary plywood. UDP’s Urban Vitality program launched a temporary mural program and worked with University Heights Center to secure and pay local artists to design and paint murals on boarded up storefronts in the neighborhood.
  • Served as a critical intermediary between City agencies and the small businesses – attended and advocated for the interests of small businesses and stakeholders affected by SDOT construction projects.
  • Installed our iconic holiday decorations of shooting stars on The Ave and built on the tradition with lighted wreaths and banners wishing you Happy Holidays in five different languages.
  • Awarded grant to install three new permanent public murals in the neighborhood  – In 2020, the UDP received a Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Matching Fund Grant to launch our permanent Mural Program, an initiative to install three new works of public art on highly visible walls in the neighborhood, to be completed in 2021.


  • Increased cleaning throughout the year – with the pandemic, UDP was called on to increase its cleaning services throughout the district, responding to graffiti, biohazards, garbage, and debris. Compared to 2019, our team responded to remove nearly four times as many graffiti tags and biohazards. Through December, we have cleaned:
    •     12,262 bags worth of trash
    •     10,003 graffiti tags
    •     10,212 biohazards
    •     1,996 overflowing dumpsters
    •     During our fall leaf removal, we picked up 27.14 tons of leaves and debris.
  • Adapted outreach efforts focused on our homeless population – Since 2019, U District Partnership has contracted with REACH for a full-time Outreach Care Coordinator, David Delgado. This year, David worked with our homeless population to understand their needs during the pandemic, which included the installation of accessible restrooms and hand washing facilities, in addition to assisting with shelter-in-place orders by providing access to food, hygiene and toiletry supplies, and more.
  • Expanded Ambassador safety patrols and response – with businesses shuttered in April, UDP added temporary nighttime patrols to increase visibility in the neighborhood.This year, having lost our Seattle Police Community Police Team, which provided two foot-beat officers for the U District, the Ambassador team was in higher demand than ever. They served the University District by responding to shoplifting attempts, car prowls, graffiti tagging, providing wellness checks, trespassing, and medical aid. Through November, our Ambassadors have:
    •     Visited businesses 2,545 times
    •     Interceded in shoplifting attempts 368 times
    •     Helped 425 people with way-finding
    •     Has 1,039 interactions with our homeless population
    •     Performed 557 patrols of high crime areas

To help support businesses with the impact of their stores being shut down due to the coronavirus, at the beginning of April, we began a temporary nighttime wellness and safety patrol. These patrols went through the end of June and took us into phase two when many restaurants and retail stores that were previously closed, reopened. These patrols were a wonderful investment by the BIA in the safety and wellness of our neighborhood while businesses were closed, and people were away.

The patrols did the following duties:

Stopped people who were car prowling 69
Stopped people who were graffiti tagging 53
Performed wellness checks 982
Intervened in an assault 44
Located missing persons 3
Intervened in a burglary/attempted burglary 11
Theft intervention 27
Crisis intervention 49
Vandalism intervention 38
Trespassers 37
Medical aid (911 involved) 22
Medical aid (911 NOT involved) 41