The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation is your community foundation, committed to building a vibrant, compassionate and engaged Pierce County. We work with individuals, nonprofits, businesses and community partners to promote effective philanthropy and connect people who care with causes that matter.
We bring together people, data and ideas to create positive social and economic change throughout Pierce County. We are committed to creating a community-centered culture of learning and improvement. We do this by deepening engagement with a wide range of stakeholders and helping them address key issues they are passionate about.
In the past 10 years, the Community Foundation has supported more than 500 nonprofits and in 2015, donors gave nearly $7 million to a diverse range of community causes. These donor investments are at the core of making the following work possible in Pierce County.
We are committed to having a portion of our financial resources support impact investing where some of our dollars go to support the sustainable growth of local businesses, while providing a return through repayment or equity. Repaid funds are then recycled back into the community.
We are much more than a funder. We facilitate the sharing of ideas, knowledge and best practices throughout Pierce County’s nonprofit community by convening learning communities where local leaders can gain insight from each others’ experiences and build stronger networks.
Through our Spark Grants program, we work to inspire grassroots leadership and action through individual micro-grants up to $1,500. Spark Grants fuel go-getters, organizers, and community trailblazers who have great ideas to make their neighborhood a better place but need a small boost.
Spark Grants have been leveraged to finance a range of innovative projects including music and theater camps for kids, a support group for single dads, a tool library, a farmer’s market, and a wood splitter to provide firewood for families in need. As of 2016, 43 projects have been completed, reaching more than 5,000 people.
We recognize that our local nonprofits are only as strong as their internal talents, resources and operational systems. For them to serve more people and deliver high-quality services, they must have the infrastructure that allows them to grow in a healthy and sustainable manner.
GTCF supports nonprofit capacity building with not only $150,000 in annual grant funding, but also through professional development workshops that are focused on storytelling for fundraising growth and volunteer recruitment, board engagement and financial strengthening, and program improvement based on best practices.
Small but powerful nonprofits sometimes need a lift to help them go from good to great. That’s what Strengthening Pierce County grants are designed to do. Each year, we allocate approximately $450,000 to supplement select nonprofits’ general operating funds. These grants enable them to be more flexible and nimble in carrying out their missions. In this way, we’re working to build vital resources and support for critical issues in our community.
We all recognize how fast time flies by, which is why we believe it is essential to prepare today’s youth to lead our communities in the future. At GTCF, we focus on the challenges faced by youth during the time they spend out of school. Through a range of programs, we fund opportunities for young people to learn, engage, and lead. These are critical in helping youth navigate complex transitions to adulthood and map out pathways to career and life success. More specifically, we support youth through our Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI) and Youth Philanthropy Board (YPB).
Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI)
The best after school programs create safe, supportive and productive environments for young people to thrive. In 2011, the Community Foundation partnered with The Raikes Foundation to invest in strengthening the quality of after school programs within Pierce County through the Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI). To date, 18 nonprofits have participated within three cohorts.
YPQI is based on positive youth development research and is Washington state’s version of a nationally recognized quality improvement process developed by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality. The 12-month process is grounded in the belief that program staff are key to ensuring young people’s needs are met and learning is encouraged–creating spaces where youth can thrive.
YPQI supports youth-serving organizations through a process facilitated by School’s Out Washington that includes program quality assessment, data-driven improvement planning, peer learning and intensive professional development that reflects best practices in youth development. The initiative’s approach to fulfill goals is based on the assess-plan-improve sequence.
In 2014, the Community Foundation led efforts to continue expansion of YPQI in Pierce County by investing in quality summer learning programs for youth in low-income and rural communities. When it comes to summer learning loss research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. In fact, most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math skills over the summer months, while low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement. In 2016, the Community Foundation invested another $105,000 in grant funding to support this issue with grants to eight Pierce County organization.
Youth Philanthropy Board (YPB)
The Youth Philanthropy Board (YPB) is a nine-month program that brings the important perspective of youth voice into philanthropy. Designed to provide youth the opportunity to play a role in funding decisions that directly affect their lives, the YPB equips members with tools to become philanthropic and community leaders.
Each year, YPB members fund quality, out-of-school-time programs that provide youth opportunities to learn, engage, and lead. Through this, the YPB members help support their peers as they map out pathways to success in school and life.
Youth learn how to:
- Speak up effectively to have their voices heard
- Collaborate with adults as partners in philanthropy
- Work with opinions that are new or different
- Recognize healthy, youth-serving nonprofits to fund
In 2008, the Community Foundation established the Foundation of Art Award to recognize the essential role art plays in our community and to honor professional artists in the region. Today this award has become one of the most notable in the region and is made possible by the Donald R. and Mary E. Williams Art Fund.
Each year, more than a dozen artists are nominated and one is selected for this significant award. The winning artist receives a $7,500 award to create a commissioned art piece for the Community Foundation representing their interpretation of the Pierce County community.
Globally and locally, women and girls are disproportionately affected by a number of issues, including access to health care, domestic violence and abuse, lack of adequate financial resources, and more. However, when women are supported and given the tools they need to succeed, they not only improve the well being of their families, but also their entire community.
We believe our community will be healthier, stronger, and more sustainable if women and girls are able to participate fully and equitably in all aspects of community life.