Scaling What Works

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Washington Families Fund

Kelly Zelenka, Building Changes

Created in 2004 by a group of private funders; government officials, including the Washington State Legislature; and nonprofit advocates, the Washington Families Fund is the first public-private pooled fund to support providers serving homeless families. Since its inception, WFF, which is led by Building Changes, has secured more than $30 million from 25 cross-sector funding partners and re-granted these funds to 51 providers throughout the state. WFF makes grants in three areas of work: support services, employment services and access to services through systems innovations. Its grantees have served 1,750 families, including more than 3,000 children. WFF is undergoing an extensive evaluation process. Findings show that more than 70 percent of children served stayed stable in their schools rather than transfer as a result of homelessness, and approximately 60 percent of families have exited into stable housing.

Fast facts

  • Collaborating funders:

Public funding partners: State of Washington Department of Commerce, King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, City of Seattle, City of Tacoma, City of Everett, King County Housing Authority, Seattle Housing Authority, Pierce County Housing Authority, Tacoma Housing Authority, Everett Housing Authority, Snohomish County Housing Authority, Workforce Central (Pierce County), Snohomish Workforce Development Council, and Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

Private funding partners: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Anonymous (2), Aven Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, The Boeing Company, Microsoft Corporation, Campion Foundation, Bob B. Cheney Foundation, Forest Foundation, Kawabe Memorial Fund, Medina Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust,  Norcliffe Foundation, OneFamily Foundation, The Seattle Foundation, Windermere Foundation, Weyerhause Foundation, Community Foundation of North Central Washington, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Inland Northwest Community Foundation, Yakima Valley Community Foundation, United Way of Pierce County, United Way of King County, United Way of Snohomish County

  • Duration: 2004 – ongoing
  • Region served: Washington State
  • Structure: Pooled funding
  • Issue area: Human services
  • For related resources: click here


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