Community Investment - FAQs

United Way of Pierce County
Frequently Asked Questions for Community Impact


What is Community Impact?

Community Impact (CI) mobilizes the private, public and nonprofit sectors together to create solutions that are innovative and scalable. As a convener and collaborator, United Way of Pierce County may serve in a leadership, partnership or backbone role. By mobilizing diverse stakeholders around our shared goal of lifting 15K families out of poverty by 2028, we find solutions that magnify, not duplicate, one another’s work.


Why is United Way focused on moving families out of poverty?

We are leading the fight against poverty in Pierce County because poverty has a widespread impact, contributing to issues like crime, unemployment, poor health, domestic violence, isolation and depression. We want all children in Pierce County to grow up and thrive, but 1 in 3 households in Pierce County struggle with poverty. Even hardworking people with jobs—sometimes multiple jobs— often cannot afford a bare-bones household budget. We call these families ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). They can be our neighbors, friends, coworkers and families who face tough choices like whether to buy food or fill their gas tank. By helping lift 15,000 families out of poverty by 2028, we will make significant multi-generational changes in our community. The Household Survival Budget in Pierce County for a family of four is $72,000 a year and the Stability Budget for a family of 4 is $125,000. With a median household income of $75,000, 31% of Pierce County is struggling to make ends meet.


What is UWPC doing about racial and social equity?

We have a responsibility to ensure all people in Pierce County are free from racial and social inequity. Operating with a social and racial equity mindset, in partnership with the community, we work across sectors to unify businesses, public, private and nonprofit leadership to address the interconnected issues and underlying systemic causes impacting families. The power of placing diversity, equity and inclusion practices at the center of our daily work, allows us to collectively and more effectively address the issues that face our community.  


What are CI’s current partnerships and collaborations?

Partnerships include,  Resilient Pierce County, a partnership with DSHS, Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, George Washington University, UWT and local nonprofits with a focus on reimagining health and human service systems in two targeted communities – Franklin Pierce and the Eastside of Tacoma; Pierce County Connected a partnership with GTCF focused on creating an aligned philanthropy  to address urgent, and emerging needs as a result of the impact of COVID -19, $7.6M was raised and granted back out into the community; Hunger-Free Pierce County Collaborative; and Mayor’s Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot a partnership with the City of Tacoma, GTCF, Tacoma Urban League and others ; and Franklin Pierce 2 Generation Collaboration, a partnership with Franklin Pierce Community and Advisory Council, Franklin Pierce School District, Eloise’s Cooking Pot and Our Savior Lutheran focused on stabilizing families negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and helping students stay on track with remote and hybrid learning. 


Where does my money go?

Each United Way is independent and focuses solely on their community. UWPC partners with the private, public and non-profit sector to leverage resources and educate the community about interconnected issues and by putting every resource we have into helping ALICE hardworking individuals who struggle to make ends meet. Your donor dollars are invested in:

Basic Needs & Supportive Services agencies that help children, families and individuals cover critical needs like food, health care, childcare and shelter.

Center for Strong Families, a network of trusted community organizations that help struggling families improve their financial bottom line by providing one-on-one mentoring and coaching to help clients get jobs, increase income, decrease expenses, build credit and acquire assets.

211 helpline that connects over 90,000 contacts per year in Pierce, Thurston and Lewis Counties to critical community programs and services, including behavioral health, housing, transportation and employment. Navigation services include partnerships with Pierce County, City of Tacoma, First Five Fundamental, Hope Sparks and WorkForce Central.


I don’t see my favorite organization on your list of funded agencies. What is your funding process?

It’s possible the organization you’re looking for found new funding, may not have applied or has shifted their programs to different areas of impact. Investment Volunteers carefully evaluate each request to determine if and how it fits into our goals. UWPC remains adaptable and flexible in funding in order to address emerging needs and priorities. As a result, the list of agencies we fund will change from year to year.


How will we track families moving from poverty to self-sufficiency?

We track multiple data points such as income, credit and assets, including the Self-Sufficiency Matrix, a proven tool that assesses key observable changes along a continuum from crisis to self-sufficiency.


What else does UWPC do?

Advocating and volunteering are part of what it means to live united. Working with our volunteer Advocacy Committee we develop a year-round advocacy agenda that includes creating a legislative policy agenda, engaging with legislators at the state and local level and providing advocacy training. For the past 4 years, we have hosted a From Poverty to Possibilities summit summit to broaden knowledge and ownership among community stakeholders about systemic barriers to moving out of poverty. We have also hosted the Pitch to Ditch Poverty contest and convened community conversations to engage our neighbors around solutions to removing those barriers. We support these efforts with volunteer help and in-kind goods that we manage through Get Connected, our online volunteer and donation matching platform.


How much has UWPC invested in the community since 1921?

Together, we have invested a total of $350 million back into the Pierce County since 1921.