In June 2019, the Foundation for Tacoma Students announced a one-time investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to deepen the capacity and capability of the Graduate Tacoma community-wide movement. This investment of $2.5 million presents an opportunity to elevate our collective action and, most importantly, strengthen our ability to improve outcomes for all students.


Through the Graduate Tacoma Community Learning Fund, we aim to accelerate our progress towards closing racial and economic disparities for Tacoma’s future generations. To do this, we are committed to two learnings: 

Understanding the various types of equity impacting young people in Tacoma

Increasing our understanding of the ways that practices, policies and behaviors influence systems change


| Community Partner Capacity & Capability

Subgranting, professional development, learning cohort, consultant services

| Data Capacity & Capability

Landscape scan, consultant services, subgranting, professional development, data tools, learning cohort

| Postsecondary Access & Completion

Intermediary subcontracting, landscape scan, subgranting, learning cohort

Tracking our Progress

1. Completed landscape scans
2. Fulfilled subgranting goals
3. Improved data-sharing relationships
4. Reflection on learning cohort goals
5. Assess Learning Agenda progress
6. Develop new data tools, dictionaries, and other resources
7. Completed Final Summary report to the Graduate Tacoma Community


1. Did subgrantees achieve their goals?
2.What was the impact of the Learning Cohorts?
3.How did we work together to design new interventions?


Community Partner Capacity & Capability
Did the learning result in increased understanding and surface interventions that will facilitate collective action?

Data Capacity & Capability
Did the learning result in increased understanding and surface responsive interventions?

Postsecondary Access & Completion
Did the learning result in increased understanding and surface interventions that will address postsecondary access and completion gaps?

Our Shared Learning Agenda

1. We will increase our understanding of the various types of equity impacting young people in Tacoma, as well as the practices, policies, and behaviors that narrow disparities.

2. We will increase our understanding of the ways that practices, policies, and behaviors influence systems change.

Community Partner Capacity & Capability
More eective interventions and sustain shared community ownership for narrowing disparities to student achievement

Data Capacity & Capability
Remove barriers, enhance collaboration, avoid duplication and scale systems-wide initiatives

Postsecondary Access & Completion
Differentiate and realign strategies that create a more successful transition into postsecondary pathways


Partnership and collaboration come naturally in Tacoma. Over the years, youth-serving organizations and institutions in this city have shown an extraordinary willingness to join together in order to improve outcomes for every child, cradle to career. Your success as the Graduate Tacoma community-wide movement to reach young people when and where they need us; to affect measurable improvements across multiple student and community indicators; and stalwart belief that we’re stronger together were the unique qualifiers.

The other communities selected for this investment are Chattanooga, TN; Buffalo, NY; Dallas, TX; and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

One of the Foundation’s strategic priorities is to align funding, including from national funders like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to efforts that support the Graduate Tacoma movement. We continue to look for opportunities like this one to align funding and increase investment in the Tacoma community to benefit local students.

The Foundation aims to fundamentally improve alignment and systems to benefit young people in Tacoma. Throughout the investment period, there will be three layers of shared learning to build upon for years to come.

• COMMUNITY: To learn alongside grant recipients and gain further insight into best practices happening in the community to apply in real time.

• THE FOUNDATION FOR TACOMA STUDENTS: To learn directly from youth-serving program providers what areas we as a community-wide movement should invest in to improve outcomes for students.

• THE BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: To increase their understanding of high-performing cradle to career efforts and determine how their grantmaking can best impact the P-16 field.

Capacity is defined as an organization’s ability or limit, by way of funding or staff, to execute a certain program or strategy. Capability entails the tools or professional training necessary to execute a certain program or strategy.

Part of the role of both councils is to help inform a rubric rooted in our shared community and student indicators that were established by the community in 2010. FFTS will ultimately make decisions on subgrants using this rubric. Organizations and representatives in either advisory council understand that participation does not impact their ability to either receive or be denied funding through the grant process.

Funds in this grant will be dedicated to developing data sharing skills and culture in partner organizations and TPS. Increased data capacity and capability for partner organizations will benefit their own work and build alignment between organizations and anchor institutions.

Yes, we will be sharing all relevant learnings, curriculum and tools to the community at large throughout and following the grant term.

The goal of the data capacity and partnership grant area is not to transform data systems, but to create shared understanding, literacy, and analysis within and across organizations. This will ideally build a foundation for data sharing and program-oriented process improvement for many years to come.

The Foundation is conducting a community scan of partner and cross-sectoral organizations to identify the most common data capacity and capability needs, then developing typographies for subgrants and training based on those needs. Reach out to our data team for more information, by emailing Director of Data Devin Kelly at

This investment is time-bound and catalytic in order to improve systems and alignment. At this time, there is no intention for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to sustain funding past the 21-month grant period.

All youth-serving or family-serving organizations that directly impact Tacoma students. We understand that some organizations have a broader reach. We are interested in organizations that can help improve outcomes for students attending Tacoma Public Schools. At this time we are not limiting opportunities to apply based on 501c3 status.