Earlier this year, we wrote about The Russell Family Foundation participating in a philanthropic zero-interest loan pool led by the OnePierce Community Resiliency Fund to ensure local community organizations could take advantage of Pierce County’s CARES Act federal COVID-19 relief funding.
These bridge loans, underwritten by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation (GTCF), allowed eight organizations to access nearly $1 million that otherwise would have been left on the table. Without this unique partnership between guarantors OnePierce, GTFC and the philanthropic funders, a full underwriting process would not have been possible.
A tremendous example of trust-based philanthropy, the partnership removed many of the administrative and qualifying hurdles and acted as a safety net to the receiving organizations. By removing these barriers, more diverse borrowers also got support, including those who are often overlooked by traditional funding sources.
For some organizations, it was the first time they had contracted with the county, opening a relationship for future opportunities.
“These bridge loans had a lot to do with health equity,” said Lauren Fulton, vice president of impact investing at OnePierce Community Resiliency Fund. “OnePierce was able to build the platform and capacity needed for these diverse organizations to feel supported and continue serving communities of color. It was empowering to enable folks who are not the usual organizations contracting with the county.”
Below are the stories of two organizations that received funding and their experiences and impact.
The Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center
Location: Tacoma, WA
The Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center, a nonprofit that provides culturally relevant support to children and their families, received a CARES Act grant for $1 million. This was a large amount for the small nonprofit and like any grant, the team was nervous how long it might take to get the funding. This is when OnePierce stepped in with the bridge loan.
With the confidence and support from the bridge loan, The Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center was able to provide money to the families of the children they support through existing programming as well as families within Pierce County who access the County’s portal system. Throughout the pandemic, they have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in rental assistance to more than 700 families with the funds so far. They are currently working with Pierce County to receive additional funding to continue supporting those in need.
“We were elated to have support from the OnePierce bridge loan program,” said Cynda Mack, the finance lead of The Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center. “It was crucial to get the relief out quickly to protect people who were in danger of losing their housing relief and this collaboration allowed that to happen successfully.”
Location: Tacoma, WA
The R.I.S.E Center, a local nonprofit that helps people restore their lives through faith, community support and a wide variety of services, was selected by Pierce County in 2020 to provide outreach programming.
R.I.S.E. had applied for shelter funding, so this was an unusual request from the county given the organization did not provide outreach as part of their routine services. The team received a $105,000 bridge loan from OnePierce, which helped them hire the necessary staff to begin the new programming.
“This funding made it possible for us to hire five new staff members to support the outreach program,” said Gerald Daniels, executive director of R.I.S.E Center. “We were able to expand our original feeding program to do outreach and bring people into the center through our coordinated reentry programs. These programs are developed to meet a wide range of needs from substance use disorders and mental health treatment to GED training programs.”
R.I.S.E. did not have any prior contracts with Pierce County and this grant was the first outside funding they received.
OnePierce has implemented two rounds of bridge loans and is now looking at implementing a third round to support the community. Each round has had a different approach that has naturally evolved out of the needs of local community organizations. Their first-round explored how to balance the public/private funding partnership. In round two, OnePierce focused on developing deeper connections with organizations. Looking to the future, they are seeking to understand how they can play a role in breaking down barriers to lending.
To learn more, visit https://elevatehealth.org/faq/onepierce