Our mission

Everyone should have access to the opportunities they need to design the future they want.

This core belief drives the Gates Foundation’s work around the world and in our home state of Washington, where we work at the local, regional, and state level.

In all our work, we focus on the people and communities who face the highest barriers to opportunity—including Black, Latino, Indigenous, and low-income and rural communities.

As the only team at the Gates Foundation to invest in just one state, we know that an authentic and ongoing connection to the community is critical. We are committed to ensuring the choices we make are guided by community input and align with our team’s values.

Our place-based principles

We created a set of principles that outline how we intend to show up for partners and community members in Washington state. These principles guide our grantmaking, operations, and strategic decision-making in Washington state.

Engage the community

We aim to earn the trust of our partners and their communities—and offer our trust in return. When making grant or other strategic decisions, we will engage a diverse range of community members to get feedback and input.

Long-term commitment

The systemic changes that we’re working toward require a long time horizon. We aim to deliver support and build partnerships today that can create meaningful change in the years to come.

Student voice

We will prioritize the voice and perspective of students when we make grant decisions. We will also elevate student voices when the Gates Foundation is given the opportunity to speak on education issues. 

Mutual learning

We will ensure that our measurement and learning goals are informed by local partners, and we’ll look for opportunities to learn alongside our grantees and the regional partnerships we fund.

Power sharing

We commit to sharing power by listening to students, families, and communities; centering these voices in our decision-making; and giving grantees the flexibility to adapt solutions to their local context.

Targeted universalism

While we pursue our universal goal of increased postsecondary enrollment for all Washington students, we’ll explore targeted approaches to reach this goal—ensuring we support students facing the highest barriers.

Diverse ecosystems

Each partner plays a unique and complementary role in our work together to support students. We commit to building cross-sector collaboration so we can identify and work toward integrated solutions.

Transparent communication

Our goal is to provide ongoing clear communication about our strategic progress. That includes sharing what we’re learning, who we are working with, and how we’re course-correcting along the way.

Why do we have place-based principles?

While most grantmaking teams at the foundation have reach that extends around the globe or a specific country, our investments focus just on Washington state. That makes us unique at the foundation.

Our Washington state team also partners with other U.S. Program teams at the foundation—taking the best practices they are uncovering and applying it to Washington state, or bringing what we’re learning back to our U.S. Program colleagues who are working across the country.

To get this kind of collaboration right, we knew we had to be intentional about how we built partnerships and made grants in our home state. We came up with these principles to guide us.

Learn more about us

Our team

Learn more about the team that makes grants to support local organizations, students, and communities in Washington.

What we do

We partner with local schools and communities to give young people the opportunities they need to design the future they want.