Gates Foundation funds will address issue of poverty on Harbors

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will award an undisclosed amount of money to Grays Harbor and Pacific counties over the next four years with the goal of addressing the sort of “intergenerational poverty” that leaves some low income families struggling to break the cycle. The Gates Foundation will use the Grays Harbor Community Foundation as the local conduit to distribute the funds.

“It’s essentially the continuing low income or poverty of families,” Executive Director of the Grays Harbor Community Foundation, Jim Daly said of the problem they will pursue. “It’s a great big spider web of impacts that have a direct causal influence on poverty and we’re trying to unravel that to the point where we can maybe address one of those causes.” He said they would look at several areas that contribute to the cycle of poverty throughout generations, such as education, food, support systems/social networks or health.

The Twin Harbors are one of 19 communities receiving resources from the Gates Foundation as part of what it calls the “Building Community Philanthropy Initiative.” The Grays Harbor Community Foundation was invited to write a proposal on how it could impact the cycle of intergenerational poverty in their community over a four-year period and asked to consider supporting Pacific County with this project. The Board of Directors agreed to do so in an administrative capacity, according to the foundation.

The amount of money in the award was not disclosed. Daly said they have already received their first round of funding and will receive it incrementally throughout the four years.

Daly said are asking the public to help identify the problem and where they might help through funding different human services resources throughout the community.

“We’re going into this without preconceived notions,” he said.

But the foundation already has some ideas about some already established efforts in the Harbor where the funds could possibly go in order to reach their goal, including projects like “Vision 2020, Building a Sustainable Grays Harbor.” That effort has been a broad-based planning project aimed at addressing financial and cultural symptoms caused by years of poor economic conditions.

Daly said they would ask such organizations to let them get involved and to observe where they might be able to aid them.

“We prefer to take advantage of what is going on currently and that off that, support that — perhaps through funding so they could continue,” he said, adding they also plan to do some convening of their own to survey what is currently available in the communities.

In Pacific County, the Grays Harbor Community Foundation will look to expand on the work already done by the Medina Foundation and Ben B. Cheney Foundation, he said. They will also look at how they might help to develop the support systems in the area he said might not be as “well- funded,” or “well-developed,” as those elsewhere.

He expects that the work, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, could have a substantial impact on the area.

“At the end of four years, it could have a very positive impact,” he said . “It will definitely improve the situation of a significant number of people.”