Tech Access And Connectivity Among COVID-19 Needs Supported By $105K From PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED

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

Released 10/15/20 6:30pm
Media Inquiries Contact:
Megan Sukys, 253.345.4173
VP Communications, GTCF


The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Fund announced its latest round of funding with $105,000 going to 5 local organizations addressing community needs under persistent COVID-19 conditions.

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

The following organizations received fund support:



Brad Cheney, Co-Chair, Ben B. Cheney Foundation, and PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Funding Committee member, “The COVID-19 crisis has illuminated the glaring absence of Internet access to many families and individuals here in Pierce County. As a funder we are being asked time and time again to assist in bringing technology and connectivity to those areas that are simply not online.”


Jessie Palmer, Senior Association Development Director, YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties, “The COVID-19 pandemic is significantly affecting families on the Key Peninsula. Working from home is not an option for many families, leaving them to deal with the difficult choice of managing work and caregiving responsibilities. Some students are weeks or even months behind in learning due to a lack of internet access.

“YMCA Camp Seymour’s distance learning program provides a safe supportive environment for students to complete their distance learning. In addition to academic support, students receive a healthy lunch, participate in outdoor activities that build self-confidence and engage in social interactions that support positive mental health.”


In addition to funding distance learning efforts led by YMCA Camp Seymour, PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funds will support a landscape scan and research to help stakeholders better understand the emerging connectivity and technology needs, gaps, and uses across Pierce County.


Ali Modarres, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, University of Washington – Tacoma, “Our virtual space reflects our physical space. It is an inequitable space that will affect the success of our communities. This is less about whether Internet is available or not. It is about what kind, what speed, at what cost, and how it is used. COVID-19 has revealed and elevated our social, political, and economic challenges. Inequities in virtual space is another area where this virus is playing the role of a magnifying glass.

“The Center for Applied Urban Research will get to neighborhood levels and examine the ecosystem of Internet availability, access to equipment, and how it is used. In addition to large available datasets, this research will utilize a community survey to dig a bit deeper and humanize the nature and consequence of inequitable access to the virtual space where most of us live, work, and play. This is a collaborative research project, with questions that are shaped with key stakeholders. It is my hope that this research will lead to a wider community conversation, but also result in local, regional, and statewide conversations about this invisible infrastructure that holds the key to our collective success as an equitable society.”

PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding for vulnerable populations under COVID-19 conditions is made possible through generous contributions from 356 individual donors and 55 philanthropic funding partners. So far, contributions to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED total a combined $7.4 million.


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, Lauren Fulton – 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, 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.