Gates Foundation Announces Major Northwest Grants

Washington State Communities Expanding Local Giving
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation making grants to help reduce local poverty

SEATTLE – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is seeking great ideas from community-based organizations in Washington state to help strengthen efforts to reduce local poverty. The foundation is doing this in several ways. First, the foundation is giving Washington state organizations grants, so they may re-grant them to organizations in their own communities which have already identified key priority needs. The foundation is also requesting ideas from organizations working to improve student achievement.

A total of $7.5 million has been awarded by the foundation during 2012 to be re-granted by 16 philanthropic partners in the Pacific Northwest. Seven community philanthropic partners have just been granted $2.5 million to support reducing intergenerational poverty. This follows nine Pacific Northwest grants in May, through which organizations received some $5 million in re-granting money for their communities.

Grant opportunities are available through these partners, and through the foundation’s Request for Letters of Inquiry (RFLOI) program. Local partners are distributing the grants through community defined strategies, including education supports for children and youth, assistance in reaching self-sufficiency for families, and other strategies that build stronger communities.

“The Gates Foundation has a long standing commitment to supporting community philanthropy,” said David Bley, director of the Pacific Northwest program.  “These organizations have established networks of nonprofits that serve families and children quickly and efficiently.  Local partners know their community needs,” Bley added.

The latest round of grants includes these re-granting partners:

Blue Mountain Community Foundation
Community Foundation of North Central Washington
Greater Everett Community Foundation
Pride Foundation
The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound
United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties
United Way of Snohomish County

Executive Director of the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound Norma Schuiteman says, “Everyone in our organization, board, staff and volunteers are thrilled with this opportunity to improve lives for many families in our service area.  This is above all an honor as well as a tremendous recognition of our ongoing work.”

The organizations were chosen by meeting these selection criteria:

  • they play catalytic roles in their communities,
  • their grant decisions are informed by meaningful community input,
  • their processes for grant selection are easily expanded to re-grant additional funds, and
  • populations they serve are among those with the highest numbers of families in poverty in the Pacific Northwest.

“The Gates Foundation has really stepped up by investing $880,000 into Snohomish County to help local nonprofits fight poverty throughout our community,” said Dennis G. Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Snohomish County. “This will make a huge difference in the lives of many of our friends and neighbors.”

Reflecting on the impact this funding will have, Maddy Metzger-Utt, president of the Greater Everett Community Foundation added, “Volunteers and staff in the nonprofit sector work so hard. It is exciting to bring this new funding into our community and give our nonprofits a boost.”

Through this initiative, the foundation aims to help expand locally-based philanthropy. Increased citizen engagement in local grant making decisions will lead to community prioritized solutions tailored to local needs. For more information, visitwww.gatesfoundation.org/topics/Pages/empowering-communities.aspx.

To complement the sub-grants available through these partners, the foundation is now requesting new Letters of Inquiry (LOI) related to Family and Community Roles in Supporting Student Success. The next deadline for LOI submission is May 1, 2013. Grants made through the foundation’s LOI opportunity this past year included the following organizations:

Children First for Oregon
East African Community Services
Educational Service District #113
Everett Rotary Youth Foundation
Lincoln High School (Tacoma)
Portland Homeless Family Solutions
Seattle Education Access
TAF (Technology Access Foundation)
United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties
United Way of Thurston County
Washington State Mentors
Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic
YMCA of Snohomish County

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