Community Stories

2023 Community Grants

We are thrilled to announce 123 new Community Grants awards, and we invite you to join us in celebrating local causes!

About the Community Grants program.

The Community Foundation’s Community Grants strengthen our Lewis, Mason, and Thurston County communities through broad, diverse, and flexible funding for a wide range of local nonprofits. 

Over the last four years, an average grant amount of $4,200 went to 80 organizations working in various focus areas across Lewis, Mason, and Thurston County. Including these small, responsive grants as part of the Community Foundation's overall grantmaking strategy allows us to establish and build relationships with nonprofit colleagues and better learn about emerging opportunities and needs in our communities.

Together with our communities, the Foundation was proud to distribute $385,000 to 123 nonprofits in 2023! Awards range from $1,000 to $6,000. These grants are unrestricted, allowing each organization to determine the most effective way to use their award to serve their communities.  

An overview of the 2023 cycle.

We continually evolve our Community Grants program in response to feedback from the community. Here are some highlights from this year’s process.

As part of our ongoing efforts to be more approachable and accessible, we opened the grant cycle with two informational webinars, which allowed us to engage with community partners on a human level, go over our grant process together, and introduce ourselves to many organizations we hadn't engaged with before. We also simplified the grant application, and we were glad to hear from numerous organizations that this simple yet impactful change saved them precious time, which went back to supporting their organization and community.  

The Community Grants program also shifted from an annual process to a two-year cycle. This change was driven by a growing body of data that demonstrates the effectiveness of this approach as well as our ongoing work of listening to, learning from, and trusting our local community. Multiyear, flexible funding has the promise to:

  • Create more stability, which empowers nonprofits to engage in long-term planning, embrace creativity and innovation, make strategic investments, and be better prepared to respond to emerging needs.
  • Boost nonprofit capacity and reduce administrative burden by cutting down on the time, effort, and overhead that go into annual grants.
  • Help smaller local grantees attract additional grants and public support by demonstrating they have strong long-term community backing.

We hope these changes will benefit our local nonprofit sector, make our work more effective and efficient, and support our shared goals to have a greater positive impact in our community.

Gratitude to our community evaluations: shaping our impact together.  

This year, the Community Foundation received a record-breaking 165 applications for Community Grants! After our staff completed due diligence, all eligible applications went to 42 volunteer reviewers for evaluation.

Reviewers come from a broad range of sectors and backgrounds and sit on the county-specific committee for which they live and/or work in. We believe that local people know best what their communities need. Including their perspectives and experiences ensures that we support the most crucial priorities in each county.  

Marty Fortin, who served on one of the review committees, shares his experience.

"This fall, I had the opportunity to serve as a grant reviewer for the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound. The application format was brief, informative, and gave me a sense of the wonderful services that are designed by our neighbors for our neighbors. In a class that I took many years ago, I learned that nonprofits can exist with relatively small tax requirements because they are performing essential social services that we might expect our government to provide. I found that the grant applications I read were from organizations that truly are providing needed services to our community. Because of my recent experience, I am better aware of the good work and efforts in our region."

Meet 3 grantees.  

While we are celebrating all 123 grantees, we wanted to highlight three to showcase the breadth of good work these Community Grants are funding.

Eagle's Nest Community Kitchen

Boldy addressing the needs for increased food security and overall health, this nonprofit serves a diverse cross-section of Lewis County residents through inclusive and nutritious foods and health education. Caring is at the heart of Eagle's Nest as they deliver meals to low-income seniors and veterans in rural areas through their Mobile Resource Center and Pantry. They even have a community health facilitator, specially trained to boost the health outcomes of individuals and communities. And before you start to wonder how they do it all, they acknowledge that partnerships are key. Northwest Harvest and Harvest Against Hunger, alongside community volunteers, provide that much-needed boost and support to their small team and community-centric mission.

North Mason Regional Fire Authority

"Safeguarding North Mason Communities," the Fire Authority spans 136 square miles, serving approximately 25,000 residents through an all-hazards response system. Their primary focus is on fire suppression, emergency medical response, and emergency and fire prevention education. North Mason Regional Fire Authority also fills an important community wellness role as they care for a diverse community that has faced many challenges to healthcare access, including geography, transportation, limited healthcare providers, and economic and cultural barriers. As the population in the region continues to expand, they are consistently needed for outreach activities, including safety events, visits to schools, public presentations, and CPR training. Flexible funding from Community Grants can support them with needs like equipping and furnishing their crew quarters or additional staffing to meet these increasing demands.

The Mockingbird Society

The Mockingbird Society is on a mission to transform foster care and end youth homelessness. They create, support, and advocate for racially equitable, healthy environments that develop and empower young people who have experienced—or are experiencing—foster care and/or homelessness. Working in partnership with young people with lived experience, they advocate for changes in policies and perceptions standing between any child and a safe, supportive, and stable home. In addition, their Youth Programs team partners with local direct services youth organizations, including the YMCA, Community Youth Services, and YouthCare, to offer wrap-around support for youth participants.  

Please join us in celebrating all the 2023 Community Grants Awardees!

Below is a listing of this year's nonprofits that received a Community Grant award. They are organized by area of service, and we invite you to click on each organization's name to learn more about their work. Special thanks to all 123 organizations for your incredible work across our South Puget Sound Communities.

Arts & Culture

Arbutus Folk School

Ballet Northwest

Community Print

Earthbound Productions

Emerald City Music

Fire Mountain Arts Council

Great Bend Center for Music

Hands On Children's Museum

Love Covers

Olympia Arts + Heritage Alliance

Olympia Artspace Alliance

Olympia Historical Society-Bigelow House Museum

Olympia Lamplighters

Rainbow Community Center- Capital City Pride

Washington Center For the Performing Arts

Window Seat Media

Community & Civic Engagement


Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County

Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB)

Mason Conservation District

Mason County Senior Activities Association

North Mason Friends of The Library

Senior Center of Rainier

The JOLT News Organization

The Mockingbird Society

Thurston Community Media

Thurston County Inclusion

Touched By One, Touched by All

West Central Park Project

Economic Opportunity

Enterprise For Equity

Lacey Makerspace


Olympia Community Solar

Sound Learning

Education & Youth

All Kids Win

Bethel Church

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington

Boys & Girls Club of Lewis County

Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County

Child Care Action Council

Cispus Learning Center

Community Youth Services

Empowerment 4 Girls

Family Education and Support Services (FESS)


Girls On the Run Westsound

Girls Rugby, Inc.

Guardian Friends of Lewis County

Hands-On Personal Empowerment (HOPE)

Kids Read Books

Lewis County Youth Association

North Mason Coalition of Churches and Community

Our Ark Youth Tiny Homes

Pacific Education Institute

Pacific Shellfish Institute

Pizza Klatch

Reach Out and Read Northwest

South Sound YMCA

STEM Partners WA - Olympia Robotics Federation

Stonewall Youth

South Sound Reading Foundation

The Bridge Music Project

Thurston Conservation District


United Way of Lewis County

Washington DECA

Environment & Animal Welfare

Back Country Horsemen of Washington-Oakland Bay Chapter

Capitol Land Trust

Chehalis River Basin Land Trust

Concern For Animals

Ecostudies Institute

Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group

Humane Society of Mason County

Kitten Rescue of Mason County

Nisqually Land Trust

Nisqually River Foundation

Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation

Puget Sound Estuarium

South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group

Washington State Parks Foundation

Health & Wellness

A Gift for Special Children

Cascade Community Healthcare

Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston Counties

Community Integrated Health Services, LLC

Dry Tikes and Wet Wipes

Eagle's Nest Community Kitchen

Health & Hope Medical Outreach

Heartstrides Therapeutic Horsemanship

Lewis County Autism Coalition

NAMI Thurston Mason

Nature Nurture Farmacy

North Mason Regional Fire Authority

The Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties

The Olympia Free Clinic

Wild Grief

Housing & Human Services

Arc Of the Peninsulas

Capital Recovery Center

CIELO Programs

Community Lifeline of Mason County

Family Support Center of South Sound

Habitat For Humanity of Mason County

Homes First

Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative

Interfaith Works

Kokua Services

Love Abounds Here

Oly Camp Kitties

Partners In Prevention Education (PiPE!)

Port Of Support & Pathwayz to Success

Poverty Exed Project

Quixote Communities

Rebuilding Together Thurston County


Senior Services for South Sound

Society Of St. Vincent De Paul, Holy Family Conference

South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity

South Sound Parent to Parent

Tenino Community Service Center

The Saints' Pantry Food Bank

The Youth Connection

Turning Pointe Survivor Advocacy Center

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