Center for Strong Families





No family should struggle to make ends meet. Yet, 1 in 3 working families in Pierce County can’t afford the basics.  Fortunately, United Way of Pierce County and community partners are developing a plan to help families in need by providing the tools and resources they need to thrive.

When we help families in our local community avert financial crisis, and improve financial stability, we can prevent much more costly consequences that affect our entire community.

In 2016, we launched an innovative model that brings together a strong network of partners to implement proven strategies to address struggling families called United Way of Pierce County’s Center for Strong Families. By focusing on improving the financial bottom line for low- to moderate-income families so they can become more self-sufficient, more families are able to increase their income, decrease expenses, build credit and acquire assets.




employment development

All centers offer one-on-one employment coaching based on job readiness, interests, current skills, soft-skills training, hard-skills training, or other post-secondary education and/or career advancement resources. 


financial coaching

All Centers offer one-on-one financial coaching, which focuses on solving specific problems or crises, such as high debt or eviction prevention, and then working on long—term economic interventions through a coaching relationship.


income support

Each center offers a wide range of assistance to clients looking to complete online applications and assist clients with navigating various agencies that administer benefits. 

2023 Highlights

Our Center for Strong Families (CSF) network highlighted the resilience of Pierce County families. Our 22 coaches provided tools and resources to enhance resilience, connecting families to living-wage careers, solid financial plans, and strategies to reduce debt and build assets. Our seven CSFs, created through unique collaborations among Pierce County agencies, are dedicated to improving financial stability for community members.








United Way provides the following support services to improve the service delivery of providers and outcomes for clients:

  • Grants that help community organizations establish, staff and run the Center for Strong Families in neighborhoods that need them, covering everything from start-up funds to operating costs
  • Technical assistance and training to help staff reach out to potential clients and offer effective coaching and job counseling
  • Data collection tools that help tailor support for individual clients and inform the work at large
  • Professional networking support in the form of national and regional meetings, collaborative groups and an online library of resources on similar integrated service delivery models

United Way also plays a critical role in establishing and maintaining quality standards of service and holding programs accountable for results. Each site uses a shared client data-base system to record services and outcomes. As part of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Financial Opportunity Centers (FOC) network, the Center for Strong Families sites have joined a growing national professional network of nearly 100 centers in 46 cities and 14 rural communities across the country. United Way and national LISC program managers track the progress of each operating site and establish performance benchmarks. Based on the results, United Way is able to provide technical assistance when it will be most effective.


The Center for Strong Families model is commonly referred to as Integrated Service Delivery an evidence-based approach that is being funded by a number of national organizations including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the U.S. Department of Labor due to the impact it has had on outcomes of families. An independent study has found that Financial Opportunity Center clients, who access a range of services, have more success meeting their financial goals than people in programs offering employment assistance alone. Clients are more likely to be employed year-round, reduce non-asset related debt, and build positive credit histories (Economic Mobility Corporation, 2016).


The Center for Strong Families is the result of unique collaborations of Pierce County agencies. The model incorporates common goals, best-practice service provision, and a partnership approach. Each Center for Strong Families is being developed organically according to local community’s needs and assets, but partners at each site share a commitment to core concepts.

Anyone can refer a client to the CSF network. We encourage clients to select a location closer to their home to reduce barriers. Once a week, the responses will be forwarded to the appropriate site for action. Each month, the CSF director will follow up with the site management team.


The Network 

Sites & Targets

Milgard Work Opportunity Center

Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region is an anchor organization in the area, serving low-income neighborhoods throughout greater Tacoma since 1921

Targets; Training Program Participants, Walk-ins
Address: 714 S 27th Street, Tacoma, WA98409

Phone Number: 253-573-6500

Hilltop Center for Strong Families

Sound Outreach provides guidance, direction and support to all those in need, with focus on economically vulnerable populations in Pierce County.

Targets: Tool Center Participants, Walk-ins
Address: 1106 Martin Luther King Jr. Street, Tacoma, WA 98405

Phone Number: 253-593-2111




clover park

Clover Park Technical College

Clover Park Technical College offers more than forty programs in aerospace, advanced manufacturing, health sciences, human services, business, hospitality, science, technology, engineering, transportation and trades.

Targets; Workforce Funded Students (primarily WorkFirst and Worker Retraining)
Address: 4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, WA 98499
Phone Number: 253-589-5800


Bethel Center for Strong Families

Bethel Center for Strong Families is operated by Sound Outreach and provides East Pierce County residents access to high quality one-on-one career and financial coaching over an extended period of time.

Targets: East Pierce County Residents, Walk-ins
Address: 18020 B St. E, Spanaway, WA 98387
Phone Number: 253-593-2111

sumner bonney lake

Sumner-Bonney Lake

Sumner-Bonney Lake Center for Strong Families is operated by Sound Outreach and provides East Pierce County residents access to high quality one-on-one career and financial coaching over an extended period of time.

Targets: East Pierce County Residents, Walk-ins
Address: 1508 Willow St., Sumner WA 98390
Phone Number: 253-593-2111


Tacoma Community House

Tacoma Community House- is a nationally-respected, community-based service center for immigrants, refugees, and long-time South Sound residents.

Targets: Immigrants and Refugees
Address: 1314 S. L St., Tacoma, WA 98405
Phone Number: 253-383-3951

tacoma housing authoritysiemer

Tacoma Housing Authority / Siemer Institute

THA provides high quality, stable and sustainable housing and supportive services to people in need. It does this in ways that help them prosper and help our communities become safe, vibrant, prosperous, attractive and just. 

Tacoma Housing Authority also participates in a two-generation approach — which aims to address the needs of parents and their children simultaneously — are designed to reduce the number of families in poverty. 

This program works by connecting low-income families with early childhood education, job training and other tools to achieve greater financial stability while also equipping parents and children with the supports and skills needed to thrive. Siemer Institute has partnered with UWPC and Tacoma Housing Authority to deliver service. 


Tacoma Housing Authority 
Targets: THA Housing Authority Clients/FSS Clients 
Address: 1724 44th St., Tacoma, WA 98404
Phone Number: 253-207-4400


Siemer Institute
Targets: Academic Success for Children
Address: 1234 E. Broad St. Columbus, Ohio 43205


Special thanks to our Funding Partners:

Bamford Foundation 
Bank of America Foundation
Banner Bank 
City of Lakewood
City Of Tacoma 
Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) 
Key Bank 
Kaiser Permanente 



MultiCare Health 
Pierce County Human Services
Seattle Credit Union 
Siemer Institute  
State Farm/Citi Foundation 
Union Bank 
Umpqua Bank
US Bank 
Whisper Foundation
Windows of Hope 
Workforce Central
Virginia Mason