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Charitable Donors Work Together to "Build Resilience"

November 25, 2008

Seattle, WA - More than half the people in Washington live in the Puget Sound area, so when the economy falters, it seems to hit the state a little harder there. Some of the largest charitable foundations and corporations in the state will team up in Seattle today to announce a focused response to the economic crisis and its effects on local families.

They're pledging to raise at least $8 million, in addition to what they've already donated separately, to be used provide assistance with social services, such as housing, food, utility bills, job training and financial counseling. The goal is to lift more families out of crisis, and help them stay out.

Phyllis Campbell, CEO of The Seattle Foundation, says the plan has come together just in the past few weeks.

"Private philanthropy, though it can't fill all the gaps in government funding, can act quickly, more nimbly, more innovatively –- and certainly in the end, more responsively -- to the needs of the community."

Campbell says the state can't afford to wait for federal money, and Washington has a tradition of taking care of its own. Already, United Way of King County has pledged $2 million; she says other groups are excited to help out, as well.

"The most important signals being sent in this kind of a fund are a sense of hope and a sense of partnership. I would hope that donors will see this as a great opportunity to do something for their friends and neighbors, and we have certainly been hearing that they want to."

The goals of the fundraising effort are being summarized and promoted as: Act Fast, Look Ahead, Give Extra, and Give Smart. Some of the money will be used for emergency response services, and some for longer-term aid in a Building Resilience Fund, the latter to be coordinated by The Seattle Foundation.

Campbell says donors she has spoken with see the new effort as a strategic way to keep their money local and make it go further. She hopes charitable foundations and corporate donors in other communities will use the idea as a model for working together. The kickoff event is today at 11:00 a.m. at the Rainier Vista Neighborhood House, 4410 29th Ave. South, Seattle.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA