First Fed Foundation awards $300,000 in grants

Funds to benefit nonprofits in Clallam, Jefferson counties

PORT ANGELES — First Fed Foundation has awarded $300,000 in grant funding to 19 nonprofits in Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap and Whatcom counties and the city of Bellevue.

“With the volume and quality of the grant applications we received in this spring grant cycle, our board and advisory committee had to make tough decisions about which projects to fund,” said Norman J. Tonina, president of the foundation’s board.

“We’re pleased with the outcome of our deliberations, and privileged to support initiatives that help avert homelessness and build supportive and permanently affordable housing; deliver life skills and job training for youth and marginalized community members; provide emergency financial assistance, critical hygiene supplies and household items for families transitioning from homelessness; and so much more.”

Karen McCormick, member of First Fed Foundation’s Board of Directors, said she is amazed by the work the nonprofits perform.

“Our board is inspired by their passion and dedication, and proud to provide funding to assist them in reaching their goals,” she said.

With the spring grant awards, the foundation has exceeded $7 million to date.

“We are guided by the vision of our sole donor, First Fed, as we invest in efforts that foster the well-being and prosperity of our friends and neighbors in the communities where the bank operates full-service branches,” said Jan Simon, First Fed Foundation’s executive director.

Grants in the foundation’s spring cycle were awarded for the following purposes and funding priorities.

Housing & Homelessness Grants

Olympic Housing Trust: $25,000 for construction of the Dundee Hill project, five permanently affordable townhomes that provide home ownership opportunities for first-time buyers earning between 50 percent and 80 percent of the area median income from Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Peninsula Behavioral Health: $25,000 to support construction of 36 permanent, affordable, supportive housing units for chronically homeless individuals and families in Port Angeles.

Bellevue LifeSpring: $25,000 to provide one month of rent support to 10 low-income families, including about 25 children, helping them avoid eviction and remain housed.

Lummi Nation Service Organization: $25,000 to fund green elements, including a water capturing/recycling system, at Eagle Haven Tiny Home Village in Whatcom County, comprised of 24 new units of permanent supportive housing for those struggling to be successfully housed.

Community Development Grants

Council of the Olympic Peninsula of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul: $35,000 to provide emergency financial assistance to impoverished and vulnerable individuals, seniors and families in Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties to avert utility shutoffs and eviction, address critical transportation needs and minimize homelessness.

Mariposa House: $25,000 to make critical repairs to the offices in Forks where staff deliver counseling services to victims of domestic violence and other crimes.

Economic Development Grants

Community Boat Project: $25,000 to support Shelter from the Storm, providing paid internships for 18- to 24-year-olds to learn life skills and carpentry while building tiny houses for those experiencing homelessness in Jefferson County.

OWL360: $25,000 to fund Workforce Development and Education programs, engaging more than 235 Jefferson County young people annually, starting with career awareness for all ninth-graders and culminating in paid work experiences and post-secondary educational opportunities.

RE Sources: $25,000 to expand the Community Jobs Training Program, providing individualized workforce and jobseeker training, one-on-one mentoring and coaching to 30 homeless Whatcom County youth, single and low-income parents, veterans, disabled, recently incarcerated, and/or LGBTQ and BIPOC individuals, preparing them to secure full-time, living-wage jobs with benefits.

Community Support Grants

Financial Beginnings: $5,000 to underwrite a portion of the Financial Foundations program, providing Clallam, Kitsap and Whatcom County youth and young adults with a free, detailed introduction to key financial concepts and resources.

The Benji Project: $7,500 to deliver evidence-based mindfulness and self-compassion practices to 500 Jefferson County students during the 2024-2025 school year, helping them improve their overall well-being, cope with stress, anxiety, depression and other challenges, and stay engaged in their education.

Winter Welcoming Center: $5,000 to help provide a warm and hospitable space seven mornings a week, holidays included, during the cold months of the year, for those in Jefferson County in need of shelter.

College Success Foundation: $5,000 to provide emergency grants to Clallam and Kitsap County high school students from low-income families and other high-need groups to help alleviate urgent financial hardships.

Bellingham Public Schools Foundation: $7,500 to provide basic household furniture and supplies to more than 100 families with young children as they transition out of homelessness and into more stable long-term housing.

Bremerton Foodline: $10,000 to provide low-income women and children with hygiene products they need and cannot afford to purchase.

Cascade Connections: $5,000 to make an Interviewing Skills Workshop financially accessible for up to 40 Whatcom County jobseekers with disabilities, helping them navigate and overcome social, professional and economic barriers to employment.

Ferndale Community Service Cooperative: $5,000 to provide emergency and basic hygiene supplies to low-income and house-less North Whatcom County neighbors.

OurGEMS (Our Girls Empowered through Mentoring and Service): $5,000 for new laptops and headphones for 52 graduating youth from low- to moderate-income and underrepresented families in school districts in Bremerton; North, Central and South Kitsap; and Bainbridge Island.

Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center: $10,000 to support the Housing Stability Program, which reduces evictions and averts homelessness by providing free mediation services to tenants and landlords.

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