The Foundation for Tacoma Students is the backbone organization to the Graduate Tacoma community-wide movement. 

Our mission is to build and strengthen Tacoma’s community-wide movement to help every child achieve success from cradle to college and career by aligning goals, data, resources, and partners.

Our Priorities

We facilitate a sense of belonging and create shared ownership by engaging Tacoma parents, youth and community (indirectly and directly), policymakers, and elected officials across multiple sectors to address equity gaps facing youth — cradle to career.

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We serve as a key intermediary, to help align funding and community resources around strategies that positively impact youth achieving success from cradle to career.

We inform, activate, and elevate the Graduate Tacoma community movement in local, regional, and state policy to affect equitable outcomes and dismantle systems of oppression cradle to career.

We are a resource for community partners to help expand and sustain their capacity and capability to improve measurable outcomes for youth by supporting and facilitating continuous skills sharing.

Our Commitment to Equity

Equity is an approach. Equity recognizes that we do not all start from the same place because advantages and barriers exist. Equity is a process. By acknowledging these varied starting places, the Foundation seeks to correct the imbalance for the most marginalized and minoritized populations.

  • Focusing on populations furthest from meaningful opportunities.

  • Disrupting and dismantling structural and institutional racism and systems that result in oppression.

  • Aligning and directing resources to populations under-resourced.

  • Representing the community in which FFTS serves at all levels.

  • Redress past systemic and institutional practices by partnering and contracting with women-owned businesses and business owned and operated by people of color.

Our Values









Meet Our Team

Dr. Tafona Ervin

Executive Director

Gray Sterling

Deputy Director

Elvin Bucu

Senior Director of Development

Devin Rydel Kelly

Director of Research, Evaluation & Data

Rosie Ayala

Director of Operations

Ben Mitchell

Director of Advocacy & Policy

Shaima Shamdeen

Director of Communications

Rodney Wolfenbarger

Director of Pierce County Pathways

MacKenzie Daniels

Finance Director

Chanel R. Hall

Associate Director of Strategy & Impact

Sarah Detweiler

Associate Director of Pierce County Pathways

Alan Foote

Data Analyst

Justin Sharp

Data Analyst

Miguel Martinez

Data Analyst

Hannah Hibbs

Strategy Manager

Asha Richardson

Strategy Manager

Alexander Vo

Communications Manager

Abby Shade

Strategy Manager

Yazmin Carretero

WSAC Challenge Grant Program Manager

Davianna Stewart

Operations Coordinator

Meet Our Board

Dr. Ivan Harrell, II


President, Tacoma Community College

Katie Condit


President/CEO, Workforce Central

Joshua Knudson


Chief Advancement Officer, Tacoma Arts Live

Tanisha Jumper


Chief Communications Officer, Tacoma Public Schools

Dave Jones


Owner/Operator, Windermere Abode

Brooke Johnson


Managing Member, Attorney, North x Northwest Law Group

Cassandra Mitchell

Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategy and Engagement, KeyBank

Arielle Flesher

Associate Planner, City of Tacoma

Carrie Prudente Holden

President & CEO, Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound

Victoria Woodards

Mayor, City of Tacoma

Dr. Lance Goodpaster

Superintendent, Franklin Pierce School District

Dr. Josh Garcia

Superintendent, Tacoma Public Schools

Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange

Chancellor, University of Washington, Tacoma

Dr. Joyce Loveday

President, Clover Park Technical College

Ben Withworth

Chief Operating Officer, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital

Holly Bamford Hunt

Executive Director, Bamford Family Foundation

Lisa Keating

School Board President, Tacoma Public Schools

Nathe Lawver

Secretary Treasurer, Pierce County Central Labor Council

Sandra Eliason

Chief Communications Officer, Metro Parks Tacoma

Stuart Young

Executive Principle, BCRA