$250K From PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED To Support Housing, Healthcare, And Other Critical Needs Under Persistent COVID-19 Conditions

PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED is an aligned philanthropic response to COVID-19 in Pierce County

Released 10/29/20 5:00pm
Media Inquiries Contact:
Megan Sukys, 253.345.4173
VP Communications, GTCF


The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund announced its latest round of funding with $250,800 going to 10 local organizations addressing essential needs under persistent COVID-19 conditions. This brings the total funding through PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED to $5.71 million.

Further requests for funding are now being accepted. Details are available at GTCF’s website.

The following organizations received fund support:



Lois Bernstein, Chief Community Executive, MultiCare, PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Funding Committee member, “I have been in the community for over 22 years, and thought I had a pretty good handle on the not-for-profit organizations in our communities that provide care, services and support to residents. I was surprised about the number of organizations that are doing really good work in the community, that are new to me. I have been particularly impressed with the organizations that have formed to meet specific needs that community members have identified as critical to their well-being.

Housing and shelter support continue to be critical needs under COVID-19 conditions in Pierce County. Recently, Tacoma Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness created a Winter Shelter Coordinator role to manage and facilitate the Coordinated Entry process for individuals seeking permanent housing 

Gerrit Nyland, Member, Tacoma Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness, “Coordinated Entry is the pathway to permanent housing. It is the front door to our deepest interventions – Rapid Rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing. Coordinated Entry is about establishing permanent housing in the coming weeks or months. The Winter Shelter Coordinator is about establishing immediate shelter options, so people have a safe place to sleep that night. Coordinated Entry will be aware of the shelter established by the Winter Shelter Coordinator so they can direct their clients to it.

“We do not anticipate this being a permanent position. This is a necessary position now because COVID-19 does not allow the additional 400 or so inclement weather shelter beds normally stood up during cold weather to be available. And without shelter on freezing nights, people die. This year significant work needs to be done to create shelter this winter, and it will only be successful if significant resources are directed towards this work.”

Timm Dowling, Director of Development, Pierce County Project Access, “The persistent conditions of COVID-19 add to the barriers of those we serve in accessing affordable healthcare. Our clients often have underlying health conditions and are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Therefore, our referred patients are even less likely to attempt to access the care they need, resulting in even worse health outcomes and more expensive emergency treatments. So, in addition to worrying about cost or confusion on where to go, our patients now must also consider protection against COVID-19.

“Nearly half of health insurance coverage is tied to an employer sponsored plan. As unemployment rises, we anticipate an increase in the number of those without health insurance. This decrease in health coverage disproportionately affects women and people of color.”


PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding for vulnerable populations under COVID-19 conditions is made possible through generous contributions from 360 individual donors and 55 philanthropic funding partners. So far, contributions to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED total a combined $7.4 million.

Umpqua Bank is one of the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funders. Their support will help to address the persistent needs in our community under the conditions of COVID-19. Caitlin Back, CRCM, Vice President, Community Development Officer, Umpqua Bank, “When the pandemic hit, Umpqua Bank recognized that the most vulnerable in our communities would need immediate relief and support to help them get through this difficult time. Through our contribution, we had full confidence that our support would end up quickly in the hands of those in need, especially those most likely to be disproportionately impacted. There is still a lot of work ahead as we look to recover and rebuild into the new normal, and Umpqua is grateful for all our community partners committed to joining us in that work.”


PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding partners are committed to delivering rapid funding to organizations in a way that supports their continued services to vulnerable populations with the fewest barriers possible.

The members of the funding committee include: Co-Chair Dona Ponepinto – United Way of Pierce County, Co-Chair Brad Cheney – Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Lauren Fulton – Elevate Health & One Pierce, Cassandra Mitchell – KeyBank, Georgia Lomax – Pierce County Library System, Holly Bamford Hunt – Bamford Family Foundation, Janece Levien – Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Jeff Woodworth – Woodworth Family Foundation, Lois Bernstein – MultiCare, Richard Woo – retired CEO The Russell Family Foundation, Seth Kirby – Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Todd Silver – Todd & Teresa Silver Funds, Tyler Zemanek – Windows of Hope Foundation

Organizations and entities with services based in Pierce County can now submit requests. Information about the funding opportunity can be found at the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Emergency Response Fund web page.


The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED fund was launched as the public health response to COVID-19 in Pierce County escalated on Friday, March 13, 2020. The purpose of the fund is to support organizations in Pierce County providing services that meet urgent health and basic human needs due to COVID-19.

United Way of Pierce County and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation partnered to create the aligned philanthropic response. GTCF seeded the fund with $1,750,000.

Individual donors can make a difference for their communities during COVID-19 by contributing in any way they can. The aligned philanthropies encourage individual donors to give directly to the causes and organizations that matter to them.

To support funding for organizations directly serving vulnerable populations during COVID-19, donors are encouraged to donate to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED fund.





Ballmer Group
Bates Family Foundation
Beardsley Family Foundation
Ben B. Cheney Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Campbell Family Foundation
Campbell/Loan Family Charitable Fund
CHI Franciscan
Columbia Bank
Corry & Donna J. McFarland Foundation
Elevate Health & OnePierce Community Resiliency Fund
Elliott Family Foundation
Foundation for Tacoma Students
JP Morgan Chase
Laird Norton Family Foundation
Laird Norton Wealth Management
Laird Norton Trust Company
LT Murray Family Foundation
Korum for Kids Foundation
Laird Norton Foundation
Medina Foundation
MJ Murdock Trust
Names Family Foundation
Oscar T and Olivann Hokold Foundation
Pacific Source
Perigee Fund
Premera Blue Cross
Propel Insurance
Puget Sound Energy Foundation
Rotary 8
Roy & Patricia Disney Foundation
Ruth Foundation
Satterberg Foundation
South Sound 100 Women
Stewardship Foundation
Stolte Family Foundation
The Baker Foundation
The Bamford Foundation
The Russell Family Foundation
Todd & Teresa Silver
Tom and Meg Names Family Foundation
Umpqua Bank
United Way of Pierce County
Wells Fargo
Whisper Foundation
Woodworth Family Foundation

All contributors to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED are recognized at United Way of Pierce County’s website. Click here to see the full list.