Agencies partner to support social justice and resiliency fund

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The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington has recently announced its first large donations to the Social Justice and Resiliency Fund, along with grants focused on increasing systemic changes within the nonprofit sector. 

The fund was launched in June 2021 and has secured $850,000 to provide rapid response grants to organizations looking to improve Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania counties, stated a news release. Beacon Health Options, PeaceHealth, and Southwest Washington Accountable Community of Health (SWACH) are responsible for more than a third of the fund’s accumulation, according to Jennifer Rhoads, president of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington. 

“We are grateful to have such courageous and giving community partners,” Rhoads stated in the release. “Health care professionals have seen and felt the immense costs of our flawed systems, and they are dedicated to improving outcomes for everyone. These gifts offer healing beyond medical offices because they invest in community solutions to improve the social determinants of health.”

The Social Justice and Resiliency Fund invests heavily in marginalized communities and nonprofits who are led by and assist underserved populations, stated the release. The approach came to fruition through data gathered by the community foundation during the pandemic. With regional statistics and extensive feedback from nonprofits, the foundation realized that community-based organizations had practical solutions, but lacked the funding needed to address systemic issues affecting Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) throughout the pandemic, the release stated. 

“The pandemic showed us once again that marginalized communities suffer the greatest consequences and are often the last and least to benefit during periods of recovery,” Rhoads said. “With this dedicated fund, we hope to give communities the resources they need to speed up the pace of change and build on their existing strengths.”

Rhoads also believes it is important to invest in an organization’s mission while allowing those who have on-the-ground knowledge decide how to best address barriers and disparities in housing, education, food, health care and other systems, stated the release. 

“We embrace the concept of whole person care and see a direct link with the purpose of this fund,” said Leah Becknell, Beacon’s account partnership director. “Beacon strives to invest in our community in ways that advance equity and inclusion and fundamentally address the disproportionate health and socioeconomic impacts our BIPOC communities face.”

Since the fund’s inception, it has awarded five grants totaling $179,000 to nonprofits who are improving the lives of immigrants, foster children, Latinx communities, and people with disabilities, the release said. 



One award allowed LULAC Council 47013 to enlarge its career development program for Latinx children. Another was given to Comunidades, who is engaging Latinx leaders in environmental and social justice in the Columbia River Gorge. 

A grant to Office Moms and Dads has helped support volunteer outreach and education so foster children are matched with parents who best suit their needs. Hispanic Disability Support SWWA used their grant to fund a part-time position, with the amount of members doubling to over 200 families and individuals during the pandemic.

“SWACH wholeheartedly supports this fund because it advances equity and improves the social determinants of health across our region,” said Kim Lepin, SWACH’s director of equity and engagement. “For us, it presents a wonderful opportunity to expand the reach and impact of our funding by collaborating with a respected community partner on this critically important work.”

The news release stated the Social Justice and Resiliency Fund is providing a more robust and reflective coalition of community-based organizations. According to Rhoads, building the infrastructure will strengthen the organizations, improve overall community health and position Southwest Washington to respond to future crises more effectively. 

To learn more about the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, go online to cfsww.org. 



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