Gates Foundation Celebrates 15 Years of Partnerships in the Pacific Northwest

May 11, 2015

David Bley, Philanthropy Northwest Board Chair and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Pacific Northwest Initiative Director

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is celebrating 15 years of helping people all over the world and here at home lead healthy, productive lives. To mark this anniversary, we’re taking some time to reflect on our past and look ahead to our future.

For those of you who have known me for a long while, you know I can’t help but reflect on both those things we have accomplished together and also the lessons we have learned together when things did not work as planned.  It is the learning that enables us to improve and get to more impact for children and families.

For example, I think about the long, winding road we’ve experienced for in family homelessness.  We were utterly convinced in the earliest stages of our partnerships on family homelessness, called Sound Families almost a decade ago, that transitional housing models were the solution and we helped catalyze over 1,400 transitional housing units. That was important work, not just because thousands of families and children benefited, but because we also learned that it was not the solution. Crucially, it did lead us to other insights that have increased the capacity of the family homelessness system, connected to other family support systems such as education, workforce development and domestic violence, and introduced more promising approaches such as rapid rehousing and coordinated entry systems. 

Like you, I am driven by the urgency of the moment but also feel humility knowing that these “intractable” community problems can only be solved with persistence, learning by doing, and listening closely to those most affected and on the front lines.

The Northwest has always been a hub for innovation and collaboration, and we are confident that our friends and neighbors here have the creativity, drive and desire to make Washington a place where every child can thrive — in excellent public schools from pre-K through college, stable families with safe places to call home and vibrant, livable communities where we all pitch in because we are all in it together.

To celebrate, we put together a presentation to showcase 15 milestones we’ve seen in our first 15 years.

David Bley oversees local grantmaking and the development and implementation of strategies to help vulnerable children and families in the Pacific Northwest and is the chair of Philanthropy Northwest's board of directors. This blog post originally appeared on the Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog.