Community Stories

Resilience Fund Update

Resilience Fund grants are open for 2022! Read about where this grant program came from, what it's teaching us so far, and who was funded in 2021.

About the Resilience Fund

The Resilience Fund emerged in late 2020, in response to the pandemic. We established it to further address the impacts of COVID-19, strengthen our region’s long-term efforts to rebuild, respond to emerging opportunities, help nonprofits adapt, and support creative new approaches and partnerships. 

The Bruno and Evelyne Betti Foundation seeded this fund with a generous gift, which grew quickly during Give Local 2020 as community members pitched in, matched by Puget Sound Energy. With further matching funds from AllInWA, we raised $900,000 together with our community!

In May, 2021, we opened the Resilience Fund grant program. Over the next seven months, we awarded $512,000 in grants to 31 organizations (full list below). We are now accepting 2022 Resilience Fund grant applications on a rolling basis.

Grantmaking contributed to learning

When we launched Resilience Fund Grants in 2021, we knew that we would be addressing a complex and constantly changing situation. We knew we had a lot to learn.

To deepen our learning, we paid attention to the available data and began asking organizations—in grant applications, grant reports, and conversations—to identify the greatest needs and opportunities they saw in their day-to-day work. While the learning is ongoing, we’re pleased to share a few learning trends and insights we’ve noticed so far.

The pandemic exacerbated existing challenges

Overall, we discovered that some of our community’s biggest COVID-related needs went beyond the obvious things like masks, sanitizer, or implementing social distancing measures. Rather, COVID amplified deeper issues that existed prior to the pandemic; struggles with ongoing issues such as housing and child care just got harder. To be a resilient community, we must address them.

Inclusive funding is critical

One clear theme we found is that funding must include intentional support for underrepresented community members. We live in an increasingly diversified community in which the pandemic has had disproportionate effects on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. There are significant differences in health and social outcomes among individuals from different demographics. We are learning to pay attention to these disparities in a new way by focusing on the way race and other demographics affect our community and striving to fund organizations according to community needs and our values. 

We will continue to ask: Where are the gaps in our funding? Who doesn’t know about these funding opportunities? Who are we not supporting? Who are we not aware of? 

Already, we know that we need to award more grants to organizations run by and serving people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural communities, immigrant communities, and other underrepresented groups. In addition, we are mindful that the most impactful programs we fund are designed appropriately for—and with input from—the communities they serve. It’s important for us to work with partners who have built trust within communities.

As we move forward, we will continue asking ourselves whether we are recognizing differences, taking feedback, and continuing to learn so that our funding makes the biggest, most inclusive, positive impact it can for our whole community. 

Other Learning

In addition to these broader themes, we learned a few other things that deepened our learning around specific issues or trends. We recognize this is all part of a much bigger picture of complex and intersecting needs, but here are a few reflections on things that stood out to us.

  • Children and youth are priorities. Time and again, our community members stressed the dramatic need for reliable, high-quality child care and other healthy places where kids are cared for and supported—from safe home and school environments, to before- and after-school care, to social connection and other enrichment opportunities. Returning to school, some students have struggled with grades, mental health, bullying, and general well-being. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ students and students of color. We have heard many variations on the theme that the 2021-2022 school year has been one of the most difficult years ever for educators and others who work to support our students. 
  • Home repairs were essential to keep people in their homes. To stabilize housing, our community emphasized the importance of keeping people in their homes. One small leverage point we learned more about was funding for home repairs. We’re learning that modest investments, such as roof or faucet repairs, can help people avoid more costly issues in the future. The community also reported that many seniors are experiencing housing insecurity or becoming unhoused for the first time in their lives. Organizations providing ADA adaptations have been crucial to help people stay in—and stay safe in—their homes. 
  • Our mental health needs some TLC. The ripple effects of the pandemic, loss of life, social turmoil, racial injustices, political polarization, physical isolation, economic struggles, and many other disruptions and interconnected factors experienced throughout our communities have strained our collective resilience and had a detrimental effect on mental health. 
  • People need gathering spaces: Our community’s need for social connection was another clear, common thread. The inability to enjoy collective experiences hampered civic life for people of all ages. Isolation due to the pandemic brought into relief the role of “third places,” the spaces “where people spend time between home (‘first’ place) and work (‘second’ place).” These crucial community spaces serve as  societal “living rooms,” and without them, our community has struggled to come together and connect.
  • Physical access to services is important for health and safety. When physical access points closed, many people were cut off from crucial services like housing vouchers or referrals. The physical shutdown also affected the ability for mandatory reporters to spot signs of abuse or domestic violence. Reopening physical service points has been crucial for the safety of many people in our communities. 
  • Technology hinders and helps. Technology has presented people and organizations with both challenges and opportunities. Our high dependence on virtual meetings and services left many fatigued and disconnected. But it also enhanced the ability for organizations to reach people. Helping organizations navigate this dichotomy will be important moving forward.
  • Animal welfare was not on our radar but should be. The pandemic disproportionately impacted low-income people in our community, including low-income pet owners. The strain of keeping animals healthy over the past several months has taxed many household budgets and animal welfare organizations in surprising and significant ways. 

Grants opening again in 2022

The overarching theme that became clear through our grantmaking was how nuanced and varied the “impacts of COVID-19” were across the community. While some in our communities still continue to face challenges caused directly by COVID-19, others are addressing needs and challenges that existed well before 2020 but were amplified or made worse through the pandemic. And we all face the challenge of continuing to strengthen our communities in a pandemic-changed social and economic environment that is still undergoing frequent and unpredictable shifts. This has confirmed the importance of continuing to learn and adapt.

Supported by this ongoing learning, we are offering Resilience Fund grants again in 2022. Resilience Fund grants are open now with applications accepted on a rolling basis. To learn more about the Resilience Fund grantmaking framework, guidelines, or eligibility, please visit the Resilience Fund page of our website. There, you will also find links to apply for funding or to donate and help us keep building this fund.

2021 Resilience Fund Grants (ordered by award date)

  • Child Care Action Council
  • Community Youth Services
  • South Sound YMCA
  • Rochester Organization of Families
  • Harlequin Productions 
  • Shelton Family Center 
  • North Mason Resources 
  • Arbutus Folk School 
  • The Crisis Clinic 
  • SPS Habitat for Humanity 
  • South Sound Estuary Association 
  • Lewis County Autism Coalition 
  • Community Lifeline 
  • ASHHO 
  • Rebuilding Together Thurston County 
  • Boys & Girls Club of Chehalis 
  • Turning Pointe Survivor Advocacy Center 
  • Boys & Girls Club of SPS 
  • Habitat for Humanity Mason County 
  • Build a Bus Home 
  • Family Education and Support Services 
  • Great Bend Center for Music 
  • Lewis County Gospel Mission 
  • WA Center for the Performing Art 
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul 
  • Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group 
  • Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter  
  • Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County  
  • Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB)  
  • The Saint’s Pantry Food Bank  
  • Bounty for Families 
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