2 county nonprofits get $440K each in Gates grants

The Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation announced an $880,000 award Tuesday that will help two agencies in Snohomish County fight poverty. United Way of Snohomish County and the Greater Everett Community Foundation will each receive $440,000 over the next four years.

“Most of the money will be regranted to other nonprofits,” said Neil Parekh, a spokesman for the local United Way.

The money will be aimed largely at alleviating intergenerational poverty. “That’s the big-picture theme the Gates Foundation is working on, and it’s a goal we share. It dovetails with a lot of the work we already do,” Parekh said Tuesday.

“So much of the money will go back out into the community,” said Maddy Metzger-Utt, president of the Greater Everett Community Foundation. “It’s just great to be able to support the nonprofits. It’s really exciting.”

According to the Gates Foundation’s announcement, the $880,000 is part of $2.5 million just granted to seven Northwest philanthropic groups in an effort to reduce intergenerational poverty. And in May, the Gates Foundation gave nine other awards totaling $5 million in regranting money to Northwest organizations.

“The Gates Foundation has a long-standing commitment to supporting community philanthropy,” David Bley, director of the foundation’s Pacific Northwest Initiative, said in a statement announcing Tuesday’s awards. “These organizations have established networks of nonprofits that serve families and children quickly and efficiently. Local partners know their community needs,” Bley said.

This isn’t the first time the Gates Foundation has supported the local United Way or the Greater Everett Community Foundation.

When United Way of Snohomish County bought its building near Everett Station in 2007, $300,000 from the Gates Foundation boosted the agency’s capital fund, helping with the purchase.

And three years ago, Metzger-Utt said, the Greater Everett Community Foundation received a Gates Foundation grant to help local nonprofit groups with training and other “capacity-building work.” That money has helped pay for regular training sessions for nonprofit board members and other staff, she said.

The award announced Tuesday — $110,000 per year for four years to each of the two agencies, starting in 2013 — will also provide training for nonprofits supported by United Way, Parekh said.

It will also help United Way in its new role with Project Homeless Connect, an annual one-day event at Everett’s Cascade High School providing direct services to homeless people. In the past, the county’s Human Services Department has been a lead organizer, but Parekh said United Way is taking on that role. Project Homeless Connect is scheduled for June 27.

According to the Gates Foundation, award recipients met criteria that included: making grant decisions with community help; having grant-selection processes that are easily expanded; and serving populations with some of the Northwest’s highest levels of family poverty.

“This will make a huge difference in the lives of many of our friends and neighbors,” said Dennis Smith, the local United Way’s president and CEO, in a statement announcing the award.

“This allows us to do more in the community,” Parekh said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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