Regional Funders Distribute $360K To Support Vulnerable Populations Across Pierce County During COVID-19

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

Released 4/16/20 6:00pm

Media Inquiries Contact:
Megan Sukys, 253.345.4173
VP Communications, GTCF


The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund announced $360K in rapid response funding to 10 organizations and agencies serving communities across Pierce County on Thursday, April 16, 2020. This brings the total funding through PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED to $1.6 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:


  • Bonney Lake-Lake Tapps Area Senior Citizens – Food Access
  • Centro Latino – Food Access, Housing & Shelter
  • Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region – Food Access, Housing & Shelter
  • Homeward Bound in Puyallup-New Hope Resource Center – Housing & Shelter
  • Key Peninsula Community Council – Food Access, Housing & Shelter
  • Oasis Youth Center – Food Access, Housing & Shelter
  • Our Sisters House – Food Access, Housing & Shelter
  • South Sound Outreach Services – Food Access, Housing & Shelter
  • Vincent de Paul – Food Access, Housing & Shelter
  • Tacoma Pierce County Health Department – Housing & Shelter


COVID-19 and the necessary public health measures to address it are disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations. Lack of access to critical support and services presents even greater risks to communities of color, senior citizens, and people who are isolated due to transportation, lack of technology access, or other barriers. Structural inequities are compounded during crisis situations.

Our Sisters House (OSH) is a victim service agency with a primary focus of serving the African American victims of domestic violence. OSH Executive Director, Kelli Robinson, MBA, “Over the past few weeks, we have seen not only an increase in the number of victims reaching out, but the needs are becoming greater and more complex. We are scrambling to find safe housing, we have had victims who have fled their abusers and now living in their cars and unable to go to with family members and friends due to everyone being isolated and not wanting to be exposed to  COVID-19.

“OSH continues to work 5 days a week, with all advocates working remotely. All staff are able to take calls, complete intakes, and work with clients as needed. We have also posted Flyers in all the local grocery stores because we feel when victims are able to get out it is the grocery store and want to make sure information is posted that includes our phone number, website, and hours available. Victims can access OSH by our website 24 hours a day and there is an escape button in case the abuser happens to walk in or tries to track browsing history.”

Bonney Lake Senior Center Executive Director Sue Hilberg, “The Bonney Lake Senior Center has had to close its doors to the public due to COVID-19 and the impact it has had on the elderly of our community. With this said, we have strived to maintain the connection to our participants as well as all members of our community that may be in need.

“We continue to provide a hot meal 5 days a week whether through delivery or in a take-out fashion. We also have designed, through donations, a convenience store from which anyone can obtain needed household products as well as necessary grocery items free of charge.”


Rapid response funding for populations vulnerable to COVID-19 is made possible through generous contributions from 191 local and regional foundations, businesses, and individuals. So far, contributions to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED total a combined $6.5 million.

This week, The Russell Family Foundation contributed $1 million to the fund. “The Russell Family Foundation has been investing in Pierce County for over 20 years,” said Holly Powers, TRFF Senior Program Officer. “This moment calls for a bold response to support our most vulnerable community members experiencing food insecurity, housing instability and other impacts from COVID-19. We are confident these funds will be rapidly deployed for the greatest needs through the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund.”

“It is important that we all work together as a community to help those in need,” said KeyBank South Puget Sound President, Brian Marlow. “The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED emergency response fund will act quickly to put these funds to use and support our most vulnerable.”


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, 191 local and regional foundations, businesses and individuals have donated a combined $6.5 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 Group, Beardsley Family Foundation, BECU, Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Campbell Family Foundation, Campbell/Loan Family Charitable Fund, CHI Franciscan, Corry & Donna J. McFarland Foundation, Elevate Health & OnePierce Community Resiliency Fund, Foundation for Tacoma Students, JayRay, JP Morgan Chase, KeyBank, Korum for Kids Foundation, Medina Foundation, MJ Murdock Trust, MultiCare, Names Family Foundation, Pacific Source, Perigee Fund, Premera Blue Cross, Propel Insurance, Puget Sound Energy Foundation, Roy & Patricia Disney Foundation, Ruth 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