Past Projects

We’ve learned a lot through more than 20 years of grantmaking in Washington state.

As needs have changed in our state, so have our grants. Learn about some of our previous grantmaking projects—including what we learned from them and how they evolved—and meet some of the grantees we supported during that time.

The Gates Foundation began investing in Washington state communities when we launched in 2000.

Snapshots from past projects

Sound Families Initiative

Our Sound Families Initiative – our earliest investments in homelessness – helped build more than 1,450 transitional homes for families in the greater Seattle region. 

Early Learning

Over 15 years, we worked with partners to build a high-quality early learning system in Washington state — investing over $150 million. What we learned inspired our National Early Learning efforts.

Domestic Violence Housing First

We funded the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to explore a Domestic Violence Housing First approach. Their work is now being replicated across the country.

Our past projects

Family Homelessness Initiative

We began addressing homelessness when the foundation launched in 2000. Over the years, we saw that systemic changes and more flexible social services were needed. That’s why we made a decade of grants to improve the crisis response system for families who became homeless. 

Three proven principles guided our work:

  • Prevention and diversion, including short-term, flexible assistance tailored to each family’s needs.
  • Coordinated entry, which allows families to make just one phone call to access housing and support services.
  • Rapid re-housing to place families in permanent housing as soon as possible—reducing the length of time in emergency shelter.

These efforts successfully improved the way counties responded to homelessness, but the number of people becoming homeless has only increased. That’s why we continue to support efforts to eradicate homelessness through our Community Engagement grants.

COVID-19 response

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we worked with our partners and other funders to respond to the local community's needs with timely investments.

We made general operating support grants to organizations providing basic needs—like food and safe shelter—as demand for their services increased. We also helped the Seattle Foundation and Potlatch Fund with their own funding programs for local nonprofits and Native-led organizations.

We were all living through an unprecedented time together. Quick response to emerging health needs, deployment of vaccines, and support to our students was critical. That’s why we helped support the region’s overall pandemic mitigation and health response and focused on providing technical assistance to school districts as they made the shift from in-person to virtual learning.