In November and December, PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED distributed $670K to 30 local organizations addressing persistent community needs under COVID-19 conditions.

Ron Coen, Board President, Gig Harbor Peninsula Fish "We have seen a significant increase in client visits since March. We are also seeing "nontraditional" Food Bank clients as the pandemic is affecting households that prior to the outbreak did not require assistance. This is an indication of how serious and widespread the effects of this pandemic are to other sectors of our community. 
"Fortunately, because of our amazing volunteers, community contributions, and the generosity of organizations like yours we are able to accommodate this increase in demand.  We are able to help people stay in their homes and keep the lights on while we put food on the table."
Amy R. HoyteExecutive Director, Rebuilding Together South Sound"Rebuilding Together South Sound is a bit of a lifeline to the homeowners we serve. Our clients are seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children. With so many at home for so many months, with much less contact with the outside world, we are often that voice on the other end of the phone. With the delays in getting out to projects, we are checking in more often with homeowners and we are simply someone for our homeowners to talk to and get some reassurance that we will get to work on their projects as soon as possible and that they are not forgotten.  
Kim Wright, Executive Director, Stolte Family Foundation, "The pandemic hit some communities much harder than others. Knowing that counties across the state have unique assets, challenges, and infrastructure related to philanthropic support, we wanted to partner with and leverage the leadership of community foundations and the nonprofit field.

PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED is an aligned philanthropic response to COVID-19 in Pierce County. 373 individual donors and 55 regional funders have contributed over $7.4 million to the fund, with $6.2 million already being distributed back to local organizations addressing urgent and emerging needs related to COVID-19. 

PHOTO: Designated as a safe space for children under conditions of COVID-19, the Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center creates a safe, nurturing, and relaxed environment with caring adults.

Under persistent conditions of COVID-19, PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED received a number of requests for vital services such as housing, childcare, and food security. Another vital resource, technology access, proved to be an essential need, helping individuals and families stay connected to learning, healthcare, and other vital services. As the pandemic continues to linger in our community, so must the work continue to adjust systems to support our communities. 

From wifi hotspots to mini food pantries, rental assistance to emergency day camps local organizations have adapted rapidly to develop creative solutions to support people most directly impacted by the pandemic. 

Seth Kirby, MPA, Vice President of Community Impact, GTCF, "With over $20 million in PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED requests received to date, the needs across Pierce County are significant. Emerging needs will continue to surface, it's clear that equitable access to childcare, food, and housing are cornerstones for thriving families, workplaces, and communities. Unfortunately, all three of these systems have been negatively impacted due to COVID-19 conditions and continue to make visible the racial, gender, and other inequities that PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding recipients are addressing."

PHOTO: GTCF and 2020 Census Complete Count partners worked together to surpass the 2010 self response rate

In 2020, Pierce County surpassed the 2010 census self-response rate of 66.7% in record time. By October 27, 2020, census self-response reached 73%. GTCF and the Pierce County Auditor's office partnered to prepare for the 2020 Census, forming the Pierce County Complete Committee in 2018. This collective of Pierce County organizations recognized the importance of an accurate count for the well-being of our community. 
Even under COVID-19 conditions, coalitions, organizations, and entities created unique and effective ways to share the importance of census participation with their communities. With the success of census participation, this group continues to meet regularly, investing in grassroots advocacy for increased civic engagement. 
Janece Levien, M.Ed, Senior Program Officer, GTCF, "We all came together with the focus of elevating the undercounted and unheard voices in our community for the 2020 Census. We learned that through funding, resource sharing, and relationship building with cohort-style convenings for and with our community partners, we can individually and collectively ensure that our voices are heard and represented to increase agency in the issues that matter most to them in their community."

PHOTO: With support from Whole Child partners like Tacoma Arts Live, online ELO provides fun, engaging opportunities for students to stay connected even while learning from home
In October, a pilot program offering online Expanded Learning Opportunities launched to provide youth the benefits of after-school programs right in their homes. Although it's not the same as in-person, youth-serving organizations adapted quickly to offer fun, growth, and support under COVID-19 conditions. 

With stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols in place this year, students across Pierce County haven't had the daily connections to learning, enrichment, and caring relationships that were normal before the pandemic. From Emergency Day Camps to delivering supply kits, and connecting with parents on Zoom, the pilot program is the latest in a series of adaptations the Whole Child partners have made this year to continue supporting students' needs. 
Developing online Expanded Learning is important due to COVID-19 restrictions, but even after the pandemic is over online programs could be a solution for access barriers in rural communities.

Fahren Johnson, Whole Child Senior Program Officer, GTCF "Regardless of how the new normal of learning and development looks for our Pre K-12th grade youth, we are committed to ensuring students and families in the 253 can plug into quality Expanded Learning Opportunities that lead with equity, accessibility and fun."

By November 2020, GTCF fundholders had already contributed $3.96 million into the community through a variety of grants. Donors across Pierce County also gave.

These funds were even more essential this year as already pressing needs like food, housing, technology access, and racial equity became even more urgent under COVID-19 conditions. 
Donors play a vital role moving forward in making sure that local organizations can continue to support community needs. Whether it's estate planning, learning more about organizations that support racial equity, or giving more unrestricted funds, the key is to have a strategy for your giving in order to maximize impact.

Robin Callahan, Vice President Philanthropic Services, GTCF "Despite the generous grantmaking of many GTCF fundholders, some have been saving their charitable giving for a rainy day and it is hurricane season. Don't squander this moment for impact by holding back on your philanthropic potential because you aren't sure where to give or who needs it the most.  We can assist anyone who is seeking to deepen their community knowledge or develop a strategy to increase their philanthropic impact."

GTCF would like to thank all the fundholders who have given so generously in 2020. You make Pierce County a more vibrant, equitable, and just community. 

Whether it's opening a new fund, making an online donation, or recommending a grant, there is still time to give before the end of the year. GTCF Donor Services can support you in meeting your philanthropic goals for 2020. 

Upcoming Virtual Fundraisers