Regional Funders Unite To Give $4M For Pierce County During COVID-19



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

Released 3/26/20 4:30pm
Media Inquiries Contact:

Megan Sukys, 253.345.4173
VP Communications, GTCF

The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Emergency Fund reached $4 million on Thursday, March 26, 2020 as funders around the Puget Sound region united to support organizations in Pierce County serving urgent needs due to COVID-19.

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 for an aligned philanthropic response to emerging community needs. Together, they launched 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, 23 regional funders contributed more than $2.2 million, exceeding the GTCF match and bringing the total fund to $4 million. Brad Cheney, Executive Director of Ben B. Cheney Foundation, shared why they joined, “The Cheney Foundation has been making grants in Tacoma/Pierce County for 45 years. This is our home. We truly believe that each of us can play a part in helping our community especially at this time. Our experience shows that when foundations, businesses, and individuals partner in a common cause, things get accomplished. Our community will need all of us united as we face this unprecedented challenge and to support those that need it most.”

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. Dona Ponepinto, President/CEO of United Way of Pierce County, “In this unprecedented time in our community, United Way of Pierce County remains committed to working with our partners to address the needs of those most affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. We know that it is the most vulnerable who are at risk, especially those that struggle every day to make ends meet. We also know that those who are on the front lines are working tirelessly to meet the growing demand on their services. Together with Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, we are working to meet the greatest needs as a result of COVID-19.”

PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funders come from a range of community sectors including private and family foundations, corporations, and individuals. Todd and Teresa Silver share why they joined the fund, “There are so many moving parts and roles to be played during this crisis that it needs a collaborative effort. The Pierce County Connected fund provides us an efficient way to invest in our community’s needs rapidly with breadth and depth. We so appreciate the expertise that is being brought together and know that it will leverage every dollar to maximum impact.”

Nonprofit agencies supporting basic needs, like food banks and shelters, are delivering lifesaving services, often with a reduced staff and volunteer network, greater restrictions due to social distancing, and in the face of urgent and difficult circumstances. The need for basic supports is rapidly increasing as necessary public health measures make it harder to do their job. Seth Kirby, VP Community Impact, GTCF, “The impact of COVID-19 affects all of us, but long-term systemic issues like racism, sexism, and poverty means that some people in our community will shoulder the weight of this epidemic. People who were already at a disadvantage need the nonprofit sector’s vital services even more right now.”

As part of the aligned philanthropic response, fund partners are working with the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, municipal and county human services departments, area school districts, faith organizations, and nonprofit agencies to surface emerging and urgent needs. Erika Tucci, Senior Program Officer, Ben B Cheney Foundation, “A coordinated philanthropic response with real-time information from providers on the ground is vital to ensure we have appropriate information to make the best use of the resources we have to help our Pierce County community.”

PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED partners are currently developing a way to deliver rapid funding to organizations in a way that supports their continued services to vulnerable populations with the fewest barriers possible. Further details about funding will be posted as they are available.  

As regional funders unite through PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED, individual donors can make a difference for their communities during COVID-19 by contributing in any way they can. Kathi Littmann, President/CEO, GTCF, “There’s an enormous need right now, more than any single entity can meet. If you can, this is the time to give. Give directly to the organizations and causes that matter to you. They need your support. And then give to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED to ensure rapid funding is delivered to the organizations in Pierce County meeting the crisis for health and human services during COVID-19.”

To support urgent human service needs in Pierce County due to COVID-19, donate to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED.




Ben B. Cheney Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Corry & Donna J. McFarland Foundation


JP Morgan Chase


Medina Foundation

Ruth Foundation


Names Family Foundation

Elevate Health & OnePierce Community Resiliency Fund

Premera Blue Cross

Propel Insurance

Roy & Patricia Disney Foundation

Stewardship Foundation

Stolte Family Foundation

The Bamford Foundation

Todd & Teresa Silver

Tom and Meg Names Family Foundation

Umpqua Bank

United Way of Pierce County

Wells Fargo