Foster Youth, Youth With Disabilities, And Refugees Among Communities Supported Under COVID-19 Conditions Through $204K In PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Funding

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

Released 9/10/20 3:00pm
Media Inquiries Contact:
Megan Sukys, 253.345.4173
VP Communications, GTCF


The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund announced its latest round of funding with $204,000 going to 8 local organizations addressing persistent needs related to COVID-19 conditions. This brings the total funding through PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED to $4.6 million.

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

The following organizations received fund support:



Todd Silver, Todd & Teresa Silver Fund and a member of the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Funding Committee,This is a critical season in our PNW history. I’ve been deeply impressed by our Pierce County community’s wonderful benevolence and the collaborative process that has been created to solicit grant requests, perform due diligence, and fund many entities who are caring for our neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has created an opportunity for those in the funding community to link arms with front line caregivers that, prior to this crisis, may not have crossed paths.  

It is likely that this will not be over soon. As we head into a possible second wave our hope is that further generosity and collaboration will extend assistance to those suffering the consequences of the pandemic. We will get through this but not without an unprecedented level of careThis momentum will outlive COVID-19 and continue to meet needs for decades to come. I am honored to be involved. 


Erika Thompson, Program Director, The Wishing Well Foundation, “Foster youth are experiencing unique challenges during COVID-19 as many homes are hesitant to accept new placements for fear of exposure during the pandemic. Another issue is that once removed, it is taking longer for foster youth to have visitation with their parents/family as staff is limited due to lack of PPE and employees willing to transport/supervise foster youth during COVID. Lastly, remote learning is difficult as many youth have already transferred several times and without the educational tools they will continue to fall further behind. We are hoping to fill that gap by providing laptops to any foster youth in Pierce County that is referred by their social worker. We are working closely with the OSPI Foster care School liaisons and are hoping to secure enough laptops to fulfill all requests we receive this year.”

Ileana Maria Ponce-Gonzalez, MD, MPH, CHC, Executive Director, Community Health Worker Coalition for Migrants and Refugees, “The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating among our migrants and refugees, who are also essential for the economy of our state; however, most of them have been exploited by a structural system for many years. Therefore, it is so difficult for institutions to reach out to them. It is why CHWCMR works directly with trusted members of our communities to represent and resolve their principal challenges by empowering our members through education, economic and technology support.”

Emily Pico, President, Tacoma Special Needs PTA, “Youth with disabilities often face isolation, and with the social distancing requirements in place to keep our community safe this issue is growing. Students need to be able to connect with their school community, and for that to happen we must work to make remote learning accessible to students with disabilities. We want to ensure that students who access their education through an IEP or 504 are not left behind, and as a PTA that serves students who use special education services we must help support students, families, and teaching staff.”


PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding for vulnerable populations under COVID-19 conditions is made possible through generous contributions from 353 individual donors and 55 philanthropic funding partners. So far, contributions to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED total a combined $7.4 million.

Ballmer Group 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. Andi Smith, Executive Director, Washington, Ballmer Group, “We know that our community-based organizations are on the front lines of this pandemic, working hard to keep kids and families in every corner of Washington healthy, housed, and fed. We are glad to partner with local businesses, philanthropies, and individuals to make sure these organizations in Pierce County have the resources and support they need.”


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, Alisha Fehrenbacher – 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, Nick Russell – The Russell Family Foundation, 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.