PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Delivers $960K To Organizations Supporting Vulnerable Populations During COVID-19

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

Released 4/23/20 5:00pm
Media Inquiries Contact:
Megan Sukys, 253.345.4173
VP Communications, GTCF  


The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund announced this week’s distribution of $960K in rapid response funding to 21 organizations and agencies serving communities across Pierce County on Thursday, April 23, 2020. This brings the total funding through PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED to $2.6 million.  

Another round of rapid response funding will be announced next week. Further requests for funding are now being accepted. Details are available at GTCF’s website. 

The following received fund support to provide immediate services: 


  • Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound – Food Access 
  • Buckley Senior Center – Food Access 
  • Cares of Washington – Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Communities in Schools of Peninsula – Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Cultivating Our Sisterhood International Association, Inc. – Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Dave Purchase Project/Tacoma Needle Exchange – Housing & Shelter 
  • Eatonville Family Agency – Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Nourish Pierce County – Food Access 
  • Pacific Lutheran University – Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Palmer Scholars – Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Recovery Café of Orting Valley  Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Sacred Bridge  Housing & Shelter 
  • Share and Care House  Housing & Shelter 
  • Step by Step Family Support Center  Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Tacoma Fire Department  Housing & Shelter 
  • Tacoma Public Schools Daycamp Partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, Greentrike, MetroParks Tacoma, YMCA Pierce & Kitsap County  Childcare for Essential Workers 
  • Tacoma Urban League – Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • The Salvation Army  Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Trinity Presbyterian Church  Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Wakulima USA – Childcare for Essential Workers, Food Access, Housing & Shelter 
  • Your Money Matters Mentoring  Food Access, Housing & Shelter 


Food access, housing, and shelter continue to be major needs across Pierce County, and are multiplied due to COVID-19 disruptions. When it comes to responding to these needs, a wide range of organizations support vulnerable populations. This week’s funding recipients are all organizations that have trusted relationships with vulnerable populations. Seth Kirby, GTCF VP Community ImpactDuring this time of change and uncertainty, people across Pierce County are seeking support and connection from organizations they already know and are connected with. PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding helps ensure that organizations across the county can continue responsive and culturally relevant services. 

Janel Tobar, Director of DevelopmentStep By Step, “Step By Step has been serving at-risk pregnant woman for 23 years and we’ve never experienced anything quite like this. For many of our moms who already lack positive support, have limited resources, and struggle daily to meet their basic needs, the pandemic has quickly pushed them into crisis.  

Because we are in direct contact and have established relationships with local moms and families, we are able to quickly assess their level of need. In the midst of this crisis, we also responded to the needs of our community and turned our event hall into a make-shift food bank and a basecamp for a huge Pierce County mask making project. 


Dave Purchase Project/Tacoma Needle Exchange Executive Director Paul LaKoskyPhD., Our homeless and unstably housed participants have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic because the services they rely have been interrupted and/or become more difficult to access, and social distancing and sanitation guidelines are nearly impossible for them to follow. People with substance use disorders may be at higher risk for COVID-19, especially if they are also facing homelessness or have other underlying conditions.  

Dave Purchase, our founder, believed it was important to “meet people where they are.” By increasing and expanding our no-contact delivery of harm reduction and hygiene supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dave Purchase Project/Tacoma Needle Exchange staff are honoring his legacy. They are doing their best to keep our participants safe, connected, and alive, no matter where they are in Pierce County. 


Pacific Lutheran University Director of Communications, Zach Powers, “The COVID-19 epidemic has presented a wide variety of complex and unexpected challenges for our students, many of whom are from right here in Tacoma/Pierce County.  

“This generous grant from Pierce County Connected will support at least 50 PLU students who depend on their part-time jobs to meet their essential needs, but who have been unable to work this spring due to the virus.  

“The PLU community is immensely grateful to Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, United Way of Pierce County, and the other Pierce County Connected funding partners for their dedication to our community and support of PLU students.” 


Rapid response funding for populations vulnerable to COVID-19 is made possible through generous contributions from 178 individual donors and 42 philanthropic funding partners. So far, contributions to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED total a combined $6.7 million. 

Wells Fargo is one funding partner. “It’s important in times of immense, widespread community need that we work together,” said Wells Fargo Northwest Community Relations Senior Manager Stephanie Wall. “We’re grateful for the leadership of Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and United Way of Pierce County as they act swiftly to care for our most vulnerable residents in Pierce County. We hope our support provides a measure of relief as we stand with the community during this challenging situation.” 

Another funding partner is the Corry & Donna J. McFarland Foundation, “we were motivated to quickly join the other PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED family funders in this impressive coming together of so many in our community, caring for those who are most in need at this critical time because we care, and can help!” 


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, Richard Woo – retired CEO The Russell Family Foundation, Seth Kirby – Greater Tacoma Community Foundation 

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


As the public health response to COVID-19 in Pierce County escalated Friday, March 13, United Way of Pierce County and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation partnered to launch the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED fund, seeded with $750,000 from GTCF. GTCF committed another $1 million in matching dollars for regional funders joining in the effort.  

Since the launch, 220 local and regional foundations, businesses and individuals have donated a combined $6.7 million. 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. 

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 rapid funding to organizations directly serving urgent needs during COVID-19, donors are encouraged to donate to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED fund. 





Ballmer GroupBeardsley Family FoundationBECUBen B. Cheney FoundationBill & Melinda Gates FoundationCampbell Family FoundationCampbell/Loan Family Charitable FundCHI FranciscanCorry & Donna J. McFarland FoundationElevate Health & OnePierce Community Resiliency FundFoundation for Tacoma StudentsJayRayJP Morgan ChaseLT Murray Family FoundationKeyBankKorum for Kids FoundationMedina FoundationMJ Murdock TrustMultiCareNames Family FoundationOscar T and Olivann Hokold FoundationPacific SourcePerigee FundPremera Blue CrossPropel InsurancePuget Sound Energy FoundationRoy & Patricia Disney FoundationRuth FoundationSouth Sound 100 WomenStewardship FoundationStolte Family FoundationThe Baker FoundationThe Bamford FoundationThe Russell Family FoundationTodd & Teresa SilverTom and Meg Names Family FoundationUmpqua BankUnited Way of Pierce CountyWells FargoWhisper FoundationWoodworth Family Foundation