Innovative Community Collaborations

United Way is in the collaboration business! Partnered solutions measurably impact the big challenges our community faces. We encourage partnerships and initiatives that address specific challenges related to poverty to help our neighbors in need and have a community-wide impact.

Many entrenched social problems in our community cannot be solved by a single organization. We all must work together to address those challenges, help our neighbors and build a stronger community.

United Way of Pierce County encourages partnerships among our partner agencies and considers investments in nonprofit collaborations that have a community-wide impact and meet the following criteria:

  • Community Challenge
  • Collaborators
  • Shared Goal
  • Communication
  • Diverse Funding


Creative Approaches to Reduce Poverty through Community Engagement

We are seeking creative approaches via an innovation challenge that provides funding, support and recognition to individuals and community-led groups who have big ideas that address family financial instability. Participants will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to the community for potential funding and additional support.

Learn more… 


Collectively providing food for hungry children and families

Food insecurity is a huge problem in our area, and we know that we can’t face it alone. We have partnered with several organizations in our area to tackle it from
all angles, including Emergency Food Network (EFN), Nourish Pierce County, WSU Extension, Peninsula Community Foundation, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department,
St. Leo’s Food Connection and local farmer’s markets. Together, this Hunger-Free Pierce County collaborative identifies and fills in gaps that will make the system providing food
to our citizens more effective.

Together, we have:

  • purchased refrigerated vans to expand summer meal site services, perishable food pick up and increase food delivery in challenged areas;
  • assisted in a program that distributes crockpots to low-income families 
  • connected more families to food through Farmer’s Market matching vouchers 
  • provided funding for an outreach person to help families sign up for SNAP benefits 
  • continued to extend the reach of local backpack programs, such as PowerPack, which addresses child hunger 
  • and invested in an additional hoop house for EFN’s Mother Earth Farm for year-round production to increase fresh, healthy foods for local food system

Power Packs

Each year the Power Pack Program and Crock Pot Project is helping many local families who don’t qualify under federal income guidelines for free or reduced-price school meals, which puts them more at risk for food insecurity. Power Packs and the Crock Pot Project help to stabilize families by providing a supplemental food source.

As a convener of the Partnership for a Hunger-Free Pierce County we will continue working together to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in our community and to increase access to fresh, healthy food for those in need.

Business Leaders Earn-ability Taskforce

Developing strategies to increase the income of working families starts with financial stability for employees. Every job is important but we want to get people to family wage jobs. Take someone who is unemployed or has barriers to employment and get them that first job but you don’t stop there. The goal is to get them to a family wage where they can buy a house, raise a family and have the quality of life we all want for our neighbors. To learn more read the Business Leaders Earn-ability Report that summarizes a 2017 event. 


United Way of Pierce County’s Neighborhood Grants Program provides financial and technical support to resident or community-led groups for projects that help children and families in their neighborhood.

Neighborhood Grants Flyer


98404 Little Free Library Community: Little Free Libraries (registration of 30 Little Free Libraries/create a stewards network),  Dometop Neighborhood Alliance: Kids Club, Health & Environment (community garden boxes, plants and tools and cooking supplies in food deserts), Salishan Association: Salishan Reads(multi-lingual reading materials, acknowledging the diversity of languages in the neighborhood), Spanaway Lions Club: See, Hear! Eyeglasses & Hearing Aids (eyeglasses and hearing aids to students when their families are unable to afford to buy or replace) and Kiwanis Club of South Pierce County: Kiwanis Care for Care Closets (secondary school children with hygiene supplies, non-perishable food and clothing)


Any Pierce County community-led groups in the Bethel, Franklin Pierce, Sumner or Eastside Tacoma (Salishan) neighborhoods are eligible to apply this year. Each group must include at least four volunteers.

The following groups are encouraged to apply: 

  • Any resident, informal group of neighbors or community-led group working on a project or activity that will directly benefit their community. 
  • Advocacy groups focusing on neighborhood improvements such as: after-school programs, community gardens, etc. 
  • Neighborhood or apartment associations, neighborhood watches that develop resident leadership to identify and resolve neighborhood issues. 
  • Support groups where none exist due to transportation or language barriers, or subject matter.


Projects must be carried out in the neighborhood or community where the members live. In addition, a group applying for a Neighborhood Grant will be selected based on the following criteria.
Need: Does the project fulfill a community need that is not being met?
Involvement: Does the group involve other people in the project? Are decisions made collectively and not by one person?
Impact: Will the group’s project achieve positive changes for their community in the areas of:

Building Strong Families by creating neighborhood opportunities to build a stable home environment;

Meeting Basic Needs of families by creating projects that invest in food, housing and other essential needs?

We DO NOT fund:

  • Academic research
  • Capital campaigns
  • Debt reduction or legal settlements
  • Expenses incurred prior to the grant award date
  • The creation of, or addition to endowment funds
  • Funding to schools and public agencies that would supplant tax-supported, mandated services
  • Projects whose main purpose is fundraising
  • Individuals, including scholarships
  • Political campaigns
  • Religious activities or services 


Complete the Application


  • New dates will be announced in 2019

Live United Award

Willie Stewart Awards