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The Business of Giving

Exploring philanthropy, non-profits and socially motivated business, from the Gates Foundation to your donation. A fresh look at the economy of good intentions.

October 29, 2009 at 10:30 AM

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Gates Foundation grants to aid Washington state

Posted by Kristi Heim

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving out $4 million in grants to help community foundations, libraries and legal aid services in Washington cope with the effects of recession.

The foundation is announcing a package of grants this morning aimed at local non-profits, including $672,000 to 10 community foundations. The money will help the foundations get government benefits to families, and fund programs to curb domestic violence and hunger.

Another $400,000 will go to the Washington State Library's "Renew Washington" grant program, funding 17 public libraries offering services to people looking for work. The libraries have seen a surge of people looking for information and resources during the downturn. The State Library will receive an additional $115,000 for advocacy, marketing and online training.

Another $3 million in Gates Foundation money will go to the Legal Aid for Washington Fund over the next three years. The fund provides legal support for state residents through a network of 26 nonprofit law centers. More than 80 percent of low-income households in the state need but can't afford legal services to deal with foreclosures, evictions, domestic violence and other problems, according to the foundation.

The 10 community foundations sharing $672,000 are the Blue Mountain Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, the Grays Harbor Community Foundation, the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, the Orcas Island Community Foundation, the Skagit Community Foundation, the Three Rivers Community Foundation, the Whatcom Community Foundation and the Yakima Valley Community Foundation.

The Gates Foundation's local spending is still a small part of its overall giving. The foundation says it has given out about $20.4 billion in grants since 1994. Of that about $1.5 billion has gone to grants serving Washington state. Its budget for Pacific Northwest Initiatives is about $33 million this year, focusing on community organizations that address homelessness. Its work in Washington state also includes education and libraries. The foundation's total budget is about $3.5 billion.

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