$705K in PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Final Funding Round Focuses On COVID-19 Vaccine Equity

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


Released 4/23/21 11:20am
Media Inquiries Contact:
Megan Sukys, 253.345.4173
VP Communications, GTCF


The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund (PCC) announced its final round of funding with $705,000 going to 38 local organizations. This funding will focus on advancing, aligning, and bridging gaps in governmental relief dollars to support accurate, culturally relevant COVID-19 vaccine information and access supports to be facilitated by trusted service providers and networks across communities in Pierce County. The funding will also support nonprofits providing federally funded COVID-19 relief. 

The following organizations received fund support: 


With people aged 16 and up eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and with increasing vaccine availability, Pierce County is on the threshold of recovery from the pandemic. However, PCC recognizes that availability does not equal vaccine access for communities facing historical trauma, cultural, physical, and resource barriers.   

Continuing the PCC Funding Committee’s commitment to equity, transparency, and a streamlined funding process to deliver critical funding to those supporting our most vulnerable populations, this final funding distribution is intended to support BIPOC, rural, and other communities who bear the greatest burden of the pandemic.


Dona Ponepinto, President and CEO, United Way, Co-Chair, PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund Committee Member,When we launched PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED, our funding committee said we are stronger together. Over the past year, the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism have impacted and eroded our economy, social connectedness, and even access to basic needs such as food and shelter.  

As PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED sunsets, our region has a path forward to recovery if people have the necessary and culturally relevant information, connection, and access to vaccines. Phase 4 funding recipients include public health, larger non-profits and health systems, and grassroots organizations that already have established, trusted relationships with people who may not have vaccine information or access. As Pierce County rebuilds, my hope is that networks across Pierce County continue to join one another in times of crisis and opportunity. We are truly stronger together. 


Brad Cheney, Executive Director, Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Co-Chair PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund Committee Member“Vaccine equity means that a path to receiving a vaccine is available to all. This includes education and confidence that they can receive a vaccine that is safe and available. Equity includes the access to the vaccine even in the rural areas of our community. There is a need to educate and bring the vaccine to those communities that may be hesitant to take the vaccine. Organizations such as MultiCare will make access to those vaccines more available. Having the vaccine available to all will support our community in many ways. Economically, vaccine access will help with the reopening of businesses and most importantly will give people confidence that they can stay healthy.” 


Lua Pritchard, Executive Director, Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Vaccine access should be equitableWe noticed if leaders like myself are not aggressive enough to make sure our communities are getting the vaccine now and on-going, vaccine providers will not come to us. The vaccine is hope for a lot of people! 

Funding for grassroots-based organizations is very important. The community trusts us as their trusted messengers. On-going funding for community-based organizations who speak the languages and are of the cultures involved with the peoplis so important, otherwise people won’t come. 


Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, Director of Health, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, “According to the Pierce County COVID-19 Health Equity Assessment, COVID-19 has magnified the effects of poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and racism in some of our communitiesSocial, economic, and environmental barriers also make the pandemic worse for people and communities. We want everyone to be able to access the COVID-19 vaccine.  

This funding will support a network of people who can help people register and navigate pathways to vaccination. It will provide support to help get clear, accurate and consistent information into our communities and ensure barriers such as working hours, transportation, childcare, information, language or mistrust in our government does not lead to less protection from COVID-19. 

When more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, we get closer to ending the pandemic. The vaccine will bring community immunity and help everyone get back to doing more of what they love.” 


Bill Robertson, President and CEOMultiCare, “The COVID-19 vaccine is our best tool to ending the pandemic that has taken far too many lives. We strongly encourage all residents to seek it outMultiCare is committed to equitable distribution of the vaccine and is working with our local health departments and community organizations to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our communities and those who have been traditionally under-served have an opportunity to receive a vaccination. We are incredibly grateful for generous partnerships and their help to support community vaccine events that reach diverse communities.” 


 PCC will continue to accept contributions through April 30, 2021. Donations received during these final weeks will be distributed to organizations designated for the final round of vaccine equity funding at the beginning of May.




Puget Sound Energy is one funder. Nina Odell, Director of Local Government and Community Engagement, Puget Sound Energy, “The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for our community, our customers and our company. Through 2020, it exacerbated societal challenges including racial inequities, health and welfare insecurities, and economic strain. As a result, PSE found new ways to come together (while apart) in order to lend a helping hand to our communities and neighbors in need. PSE was proud to support the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED FUND to provide timely and critical assistance to our most vulnerable organizations.” 


While PCC will be sunsetting as an emergency response fund, GTCF is committed to continuing to work with aligned philanthropies and community efforts to address the systemic disparities and inequitable opportunities laid bare by COVID-19 conditions. The pandemic made it clear that racial equity is critical to achieve a thriving Pierce County. This work will be longer-range, wider-reaching, and is in the early planning stage.



PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding for vulnerable populations under COVID-19 conditions is made possible through generous contributions from 416 individual donors and 56 philanthropic funding partners. So far, contributions to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED total a combined $7.85 million.

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



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 has been 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.





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.