GTCF Program Officer Steps into Larger Role for Pierce County’s Youth

Holy Chea (in front, with blue shirt) at the GTCF 35th Year Anniversary with Youth Philanthropy Board alums. (September 2016)

After six years pioneering Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s (GTCF) Youth Initiatives, Holy Chea is stepping into a larger leadership role for Pierce County’s young population. In April, Holy will assume a new role at School’s Out Washington.

School’s Out Washington’s (SOWA) Chief Program Quality Officer Jackie Jainga-Hyllseth says, “Holy has played a pivotal role in the Youth Program Quality work and for youth development programs in Pierce County.  SOWA is pleased to announce that they are opening a Pierce County office. Holy will continue his work under SOWA as their new Youth Program Quality Manager.”

SOWA’s new office in Pierce County will be the organization’s first location outside of Seattle. GTCF Vice President of Programs and Initiatives, Gina Anstey, says that SOWA’s local expansion and Holy’s new position are cause for celebration, “We are thrilled to support and build a local presence for SOWA. Holy developed a program that fostered self-esteem and empowerment for members of the Youth Philanthropy Board while also helping improve after-school options that serve all young people in Pierce County. With SOWA’s local commitment, that work can continue to grow even stronger.”

Holy came to GTCF in 2010 to lead the Youth Philanthropy Board (YPB). Having previously worked at the Northwest Leadership Foundation advocating for court-involved youth, his work with YPB allowed him to learn about philanthropy alongside the participants.

In an interview, Holy reflected on his experience, “I didn’t come from that background. I learned everything just as YPB members did that first year… And I really just wanted to change the perception of what philanthropy looks like and how it can serve as a social tool for change.”

“In that first year, we analyzed the definition [of philanthropy] and it’s ‘for the love of humanity’. It’s because we love people and care about people, we give, whether it’s time or resources. That’s what we focused on. How do we continue to help one another, and how do we continue to help this community that we live in?”

“In my experience before Greater Tacoma [Community Foundation], a lot of young people, their vision was to get out of this place – that this wasn’t a place that they wanted to raise their kids in or wanted to live in for a long time. But as they saw their engagement and the time they invested into learning about the community – but also about themselves – they started to give a little bit more. They started to see that this place could get better if more people would get involved and work together.”

Group photo of youth with Archbishop Desmund Tutu. GTCF celebrating 30th year anniversary leading up to the Be the Spark event. Big focus of the event was to inspire youth to take action and lead, with support from the community (Be the SPARK!) (May 2010)

During his tenure as Program Officer for Youth Initiatives, Holy led an annual cohort of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 in a program that offered training in personal finance, issues of race and equity, and cultural competency. Beginning in 2011, the GTCF Board of Directors approved $75,000 for the YPB to distribute to youth programs throughout Pierce County.

Holy said the GTCF commitment, “was an incredible investment into the community to bring young people together and bring all these other folks, stakeholders in the community who either indirectly or directly work with young people, to really change that story. To say, ‘We can partner with young people. We can leverage their experiences, their gifts, and their talents to create solutions that are viable for them, that will be beneficial to them, but also [to] our community as a whole.’”

In 2011, the Community Foundation partnered with The Raikes Foundation to strengthen the quality of after-school programs within Pierce County through the Youth Program Quality Initiative (YPQI). Holy managed this as well, “I was involved with helping the community see Greater Tacoma [Community Foundation] as a partner with anything related to youth issues.”

Cohort 4 group photo at Cascade Camps in Yelm, WA. Photo was taken on the last day of the retreat—YPB ritual. (April 2014)

Having built a strong Youth Initiative at GTCF, Holy said he is excited to carry his commitment to quality programs for youth, healthy relationships, and community equity to School’s Out Washington, “My vision for my role at School’s Out Washington is to really build capacity for youth organizations that strive to serve young people better. It’s not really that I’m leaving this work to end my work with young people, but it’s really advocating and working on behalf of them in a different way.”

Holy Chea will assume his new role at SOWA’s first office outside of Seattle in the middle of April. A YPB alum, Tiffany Sanders, will lead the current cohort through June 2017, when the Board ends its term.


**For more information, contact GTCF VP Communications, Megan Sukys: 253.345.4173**