2021-2023: COVID, our Centennial and Gala Celebration



211 Calls increased by about 75% during COVID - 19

While “COVID-19” first came on the global scene in January 2020, it made serious long-lasting impacts on how the world—and how United Way of Pierce County—worked for many years. In addition to adjusting how it delivered many of its programs and services, United Way also had to postpone its plans for a gala centennial celebration in 2021. 

As the public health response to COVID-19 in Pierce County escalated on March 13, 2020, United Way of Pierce County and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation partnered for an aligned philanthropic response to emerging community needs. Together, they launched the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED fund, seeded with $750,000 from GTCF. GTCF committed another $1 million in matching dollars for regional funders joining in the effort. Since the launch, numerous regional funders contributed to the fund, and have exceeded the matching amount. 

We are deeply grateful to our partners and donors who have come together to provide critical supports to organizations providing services to address urgent needs, as well as disruption of basic human services to Pierce County's most vulnerable populations due to COVID-19. Thank you for you generosity, compassion, and kindness to help our community during this unprecedented time. 

100 Years

Today, we are a catalyst in breaking the cycle of poverty. In our unique role as a Community Convener, we mobilize the private, public and nonprofit sectors together to create solutions that are innovative and scalable. This coordination allows United Way and our partners to bring people and resources together faster, more efficiently and effectively. As an agent of change, we educate the public about poverty, speak out about social and economic benefits of reducing poverty and advocate for policy change for a thriving community. 

We have a Centennial Campaign goal of $8 million dollars and your gift matters. Giving options include cash, endowment and/or planned gift to the Creating Possibilities Together centennial campaign. It will help secure United Way of Pierce County’s continuing efforts so more families may leave poverty behind for good. Pledges can be made in one year or multiple years (up to 5 years). You can also involve your entire family by asking them to be part of this decision and make a multi-generational gift together. 


On February 13, 2023, a donor wall was unveiled in the lobby of United Way’s office in downtown Tacoma. The colorful display celebrated the many local companies and individuals who have made generous investments to support United Way’s mission, vision and work.

Donor Wall


On May 6, 2023, a sold-out crowd of more than 350 United Way supporters attended a gala dinner event at the Silver Cloud Inn at Point Ruston. The night included an elegant dinner along with a raise the paddle and a live auction to help raise funds to support United Way’s vital work in our community. 

After serving Pierce County for over 100 years, we know that our community’s biggest challenges and opportunities for development cannot be addressed alone. At United Way of Pierce County’s 6th annual From Poverty to Possibilities summit, we asked: How do we move as a community to reframe the conversation around poverty, equity and race? What is keeping us from being a more caring and resilient community? Can we create a community in which we all prosper?

2021 Keynote Speaker - This year’s keynote speaker was Heather McGhee. A renowned expert on the American economy, Heather McGhee is one of the most brilliant and influential thinkers exploring inequality today. Both her viral TED talk and her instant New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us reveal the devastating true cost of racism—not just for people of color, but for everyone. 

2022 Keynote Speaker - Dr. Karen Johnson - Dr. Johnson is an inspiring and authentic leader who keeps it real. She has decades of in the non-profit sector and in federal and state government. She is the inaugural Director of the Washington State Office of Equity.


Heather McGheeDr Karen Johnson

Photo credits (top to bottom): COVID—can’t find the original source—see attached for 
Woman in Mask image option (from UWPC website); Rod Koon photo, United Way graphic