Community Stories

2022 Community Grants

We are thrilled to support 84 nonprofits through this annual grant program! Learn more and join us in celebrating the excellent work of this year's recipients.

About Community Grants  

Strengthening our Lewis, Mason, and Thurston County communities through broad, diverse, and flexible funding for local nonprofits, the Community Grants program supports a wide range of 501(c)(3) organizations.  

Grantees contribute to the region's overall social, health, and environmental well-being across a broad range of focus areas, from arts to wellness and everything in between, as shown below.  

Together with our communities, the foundation was proud to distribute $376,620 to 84 nonprofits in 2022! Awards range from $1,500 to $5,000, and these organizations have the flexibility to decide how to use the funding to serve their communities best.  

Unrestricted grants — those to be used at the nonprofit's discretion — are the best way to give and help nonprofits be more effective. In turn, it allows the Community Foundation to invest in a nonprofit's mission rather than a specific program or project and furthers our trust building within the nonprofit community.  

Coming to decisions, together

This year, 40 community members signed up as reviewers for our Community Grants committees. They come from a broad range of sectors and backgrounds and sit on the county-specific committee for which they live and/or work in. Local people know best what their communities need, and including their perspectives and experiences ensures that we support the most crucial priorities in each county.  

Here's how the process works—first, Community Foundation staff review applications for eligibility requirements. Then, qualified applications go to the appropriate grants committee for further review and discussion.  

One of our longtime friends of the foundation, Rebecca Staebler, shares why she volunteers to review grant applications.

"Serving on the grant committee is a great way to support the foundation's good work and that of the nonprofits in my home community. I love learning about the creative ways organizations and volunteers provide essential needs and create opportunities for Lewis County residents. It's been a joy and privilege to be a part of the process over the past several years!"  

As you might imagine, these rich committee discussions are always complex, especially with varying perspectives at the table. However, with the support of our staff, the group comes to a decision, and our committee members always learn something new, as Charli Terminelli recalls below.  

"The funding cycle for Community Grants this year was extremely difficult. So many great organizations have the same goals, reach diverse groups, and, simply put, do very similar work. You must dig deep, mindfully weighing out which organization makes more of an impact and which is paying attention to the climate of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and striving to make sustainable change. Having a group of committee members that move and speak with purpose and intent allows for a very candid conversation. We are all very passionate and believe in the core values of the Community Foundation."  

Together, we use our growth mindset to make the best and most equitable decisions regarding funding that best support our Lewis, Mason, and Thurston County communities through every Community Grants cycle.  

Learning insights

The foundation's staff is committed to learning from and alongside our communities and deepening our knowledge continuously. To remain accountable to the people we serve, we check in on our progress and are truthful about our growth areas. Doing so clarifies how to best support overlooked and underfunded opportunities and centering our commitment to equity.    

Each yearly cycle provides fresh opportunities to receive insights about and from people leading locally. With each round of proposals, new themes emerge that add to the larger picture of our region's overall well-being. Below are some of our learnings from this year's cycle that were apparent across all review committees.  

  • The long-term effects of COVID-19 are far from over. Local nonprofits are continually shifting and adapting their services to meet the changing needs of their communities and are focusing on doing so justly and equitably.  
  • Our Community Grants committee members appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how applicants were advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in their work. We are thankful for our nonprofit partner’s roles in increasing belonging across our region. We know that achieving true equity for everyone across our counties and tribal communities will require continued collaboration and joint learning as individuals and organizations.  
  • While we were already aware of the need for capacity-building support for nonprofits, we continued to hear that many nonprofits would benefit from this type of support, and we have learned that this typically means more tailored support as opposed to "one-off" training. When we refer to capacity building, we aren't only talking about staff shortages or knowledge gaps; it could refer to any organizational need that the nonprofit needs to level up. The National Council of Nonprofits defines this term as "an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a nonprofit."    

2023 & beyond

Over the next few months, Janece Levien, our newest teammate and director of community programs will continue to be out in our communities, listening and learning from our nonprofit partners while building deeper connections.  

Having joined our team partway through this year's cycle, she shares that, "Having transitioned from another community foundation grounded in the knowledge that our communities are the experts and know their needs best," she is excited to continue and expand that work at the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound.

Janece further shares, "Incredible things are happening in Lewis, Mason, and Thurston Counties, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue elevating trust-based philanthropic practices at the Community Foundation."  

2022 Community Grants Recipients  

Please join us in congratulating this year's grantees; follow the links below to learn more about their work.    

Read about the 2021 Community Grants Cycle here.  

Arts & Culture  

Arbutus Folk School  

ASHHO Cultural Community & Job Training Center  

Ballet Northwest  

Emerald City Music  

Fire Mountain Arts Council

Indigenous Performance Productions  

Olympia Art Space Alliance  

Olympia Family Theater  

Olympia Lamplighters

Olympia Symphony Orchestra  

Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia  

Tenino Young-at-Heart Theatre  

Washington Center for the Performing Arts  

Window Seat Media  

Community & Civic Engagement  

Bounty for Families  

Community Farm Land Trust

Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County

North Mason Friends of the Library

Olympia Historical Society-Bigelow House Museum  

The JOLT News Organization  

The Mockingbird Society  

West Central Park Project  

Economic Opportunity


Sound Learning  

Education & Youth

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington  

Boys & Girls Club of Chehalis

Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound  

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County  

Child Care Action Council  

Cispus Learning Center

Community Youth Services  

Girls on the Run WestSound  

Hands On Children's Museum  

Kids Read Books  

Mason Conservation District

North Mason Coalition of Churches and Community

Pacific Education Institute  

Pacific Shellfish Institute  

Poverty Exed Project

Reach Out and Read Northwest  

South Sound Reading Foundation  

The Bridge Music Project  



Environment & Animal Welfare

Back Country Horsemen of Washington: Oakland Bay Chapter  

Capitol Land Trust  

Chehalis River Basin Land Trust  

Concern for Animals  

Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team  

Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County  

Nisqually Land Trust  

Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation  

Puget Sound Estuarium  

Health & Wellness  

Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB)

Health & Hope Medical Outreach  

Kidney Foundation  

Lewis County Autism Coalition

NAMI Thurston Mason  

Olympia Area Rowing  

Partners in Prevention Education (PiPE!)  

Pierce County Aids Foundation (PCAF)  

Shriners Hospitals for Children

The Olympia Free Clinic  

Washington Healthcare Access Alliance  

Housing & Human Services

Build A Bus Home

Family Support Center of South Sound  


Homes First  

Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative  

Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter  


Love Abounds Here  

Mercy Housing Northwest

Olympia Union Gospel Mission  

Quixote Communities  

Rebuilding Together Thurston County  

Senior Services for South Sound  

South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity  

South Sound Parent to Parent  

The Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties  

The Mayday Foundation

The Saints' Pantry Food Bank  

Thurston Housing Land Trust  

Turning Pointe Survivor Advocacy Center  

Investing in Youth

Celebrating The Class of 2024

This year, 73 local students were awarded $200,500 in Community Foundation scholarships. Join us in celebrating this year's scholars!

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News & Updates

Community Conversation with Mónica Guzmán

Join us for a fireside chat with Mónica Guzmán on May 22 at the Washington Center.

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News & Updates

Board Farewells and Warm Welcomes

We invite you to join us in expressing our thanks to three departing board members and extending a warm welcome to five new members!

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