The Foundation for Tacoma Students is thrilled to launch a two-year investment of $2.5 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to deepen the capacity and capability of the Graduate Tacoma community-wide movement.

One of just five communities nationwide to receive this funding opportunity, Tacoma is the only community selected with proposed investments rooted deeply in increasing community partner capacity and capability. This time-bound grant has the potential to drive catalytic systems improvement by investing in three granting areas: Community Partner Capacity & Capability; Data Capacity & Capability; Postsecondary Access & Completion. Click here to learn more about each workstream and how they can result in a variety of funding opportunities for your organization.

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.
At this time no dollar amounts, nor number of subgrants have been defined. The Foundation is conducting a multi-tiered approach to gather input from the community to inform the RFP process for subgrants. While the Foundation will ultimately hold final decisions on subgrants, we will be informed through multiple channels:

• EXECUTIVE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: C-level representatives from a diverse set of community organizations to provide strategic insight, avoid duplication and ensure coordinated efforts.

• COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Youth-service providers and educators involved in our Graduate Tacoma Collaborative Action Networks to provide insight into the day-to-day work supporting young people in Tacoma.

• COMMUNITY-WIDE SURVEY: An open survey to understand investment areas of public interest and high need.

• INFO-SESSIONS: Conducted in early July 2019 to hear concerns and gather questions from community members.
The Foundation for Tacoma Students has developed a rubric rooted in our Learning Agenda and goals for systems change. The Foundation 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.
We expect to open the application process by the end of Fall 2019, with specific timelines slightly varied depending on each workstream.
We expect to begin subgranting funds by late December 2019 or early January 2020, with specific timelines slightly varied depending on each workstream.
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.

Feel free to reach out directly to Director of Systems Alignment Elvin Bucu for additional questions at