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How to Apply for Funding

United Way offers three opportunities for nonprofit organizations to apply for funding:

Community Investment Grants (every other year)
Women’s Leadership Council grants (annual)
Emergency Food and Shelter Program (annual) 

United Way awards Community Investment Grants to 501c3 non-profit programs that strengthen our community in the areas of Education, Income and Health. Our goals for Thurston County are:

Increase the percentage of children who enter kindergarten developmentally on track in terms of literacy, social and emotional skills. Increase the percentage of students prepared to succeed in school and increase high school graduation rates.

Enhance individuals and families’ ability to meet their financial needs and reduce the percentage of individuals, children and families that are homeless.

Increased access to services (e.g. affordable medical, dental, and mental health and prevention services) to improve health wellness and safety outcomes. Reduce hunger and food insecurity and increase good nutrition.

Funding Period
Community Investment grants are awarded on a two-year funding cycle. Programs are awarded a one-year grant that is renewed at the same amount for the second year. United Way Community Investment grants do not support capital projects, endowment funds or equipment. The 2012-14 Community Investment grant cylce is now closed. Information about how to apply for the next cycle of funding will be made available January 2014.

How to apply for Community Investment Grants?

Our Priorities:
United Way of Thurston County strives to strengthen our community by mobilizing people and resources to meet identified human needs. We do this is by funding programs that strengthen our community in the areas of Education, Income and Health. We invest in our community so that more youth will graduate from high school on time and Thurston County residents will be self-sufficient and financially stable and will have increased health, wellness and safety. In order to attain these outcomes, we fund Education programs that help children enter kindergarten ready to learn, help children to be successful in school and help youth to graduate from high school on time, we fund Income programs that help individuals and families to meet their financial needs and reduce homelessness, and we fund Health programs that increase access to medical, dental, mental health and prevention services and also reduce hunger and food insecurity.

Our Process:
United Way takes care to ensure our funding decision process is fair and balanced. Our Community Investment committee made up primarily of board members sets funding policies and makes final recommendations. Three panels of ten community volunteers, one in each impact area, review grant applications and interview applicants. Applications are scored based on their alignment with United Way’s focus areas, as well as strength of program design and the program’s impact on our community. Panels collectively rank programs in their impact area from highest to lowest and make a funding recommendation for each program. For this coming year the top two-thirds of applications were funded. The amount of requests received is always greater than the dollars available to give and we are unable to fund many excellent programs. In 2010 United Way received almost $1.1 million in grant requests and our funding panels made a recommendation of almost $518,000. United Way has $450,000 available in Community Investment funds. Recommendations were reduced by 13% to meet the total dollars available for grants.

What We Are Funding in 2010-2012:
We will grant $450,000 to 44 programs in 29 agencies.

We are funding 12 Education programs. Examples include programs helping prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to learn and providing after-school care,
tutoring and mentoring so children are successful in school and graduate on time.

We are funding 12 Income programs. Examples include programs providing affordable housing and supportive services, vocational training and employment
opportunities for those with disabilities, temporary emergency shelter and transitional housing to help alleviate homelessness.

We are funding 20 Health programs. Examples include programs providing access to food and hygiene items through food banks and feeding programs, access to mental health services, support for seniors and access to health services for those with HIV/AIDS and other health resources.  

Eligibility Requirements

  • 501 (c) (3) organization
  • Program provides services to Thurston County residents.
  • Program provides services that are open to all without regard to age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin, religious affiliation or presence of a disability
  • Grant request is $5,000 or greater. Previous years’ requests have been between $5000 and $40,000
  • Request aligns with one of United Way’s three Impact Areas
  • Organization’s Executive Director and Board President agree to sign United Way of Thurston County’s Memorandum of Understanding including USA Patriot Act “Anti-Terrorism Compliance Measures” form
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    Women’s Leadership Council Grants
    The Women’s Leadership Council ... Women Making a Difference!

    The Women's Leadership Council’s goal is to help women and girls acquire the life-long skills needed to support themselves and their families. As a program of United Way of Thurston County, their aim to inspire, educate and engage members in philanthropy, community service, advocacy and mentoring to help meet this goal.

    The Women’s Leadership Council 2012-13 grant cycle is now closed. Information about how to apply for the next cycle will be available January 2013.

    Emergency Food and Shelter Program
    The Emergency Food and Shelter Program is a federal program to provide supplemental assistance to social service agencies providing emergency food and shelter. This includes programs that provide food, overnight shelters and other programs providing emergency shelter and programs providing rental and utilities assistance.

    How to apply for Emergency Food and Shelter Program Funding

    The EFSP application is posted here the first week of January as well as e-mailed to local non-profits. Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds are awarded yearly in early spring. To be added to the distribution list, please e-mail Stephanie Blumhagen, Grants and Financial Stability Manager, at or call 360-943-2773 x 11.