Centering Community with Puget Sound Energy Foundation: Reflections on adaptive grantmaking practices

Featured Image with Title: Centering Community with Puget Sound Energy Foundation. Reflections on adaptive grantmaking practices. Interview. Headshots of interviewees, Nina Odell and Rachel Benner to the left. The Giving Practice's logo in the bottom right corner.
Aya Tsuruta and Leslie Silverman
April 4, 2022

In 2020, in an effort to better center community, the Puget Sound Energy (PSE) Foundation piloted a new grantmaking program that engages local PSE employees across their 10 counties in the grant review and decision making processes. Two years later, the relationships between PSE and the communities they support continue to deepen and strengthen, going beyond funding and nurturing long-term partnerships. Community organizations are being recognized and valued for their work and expertise, and PSE employees are building new professional and interpersonal skills - including a deeper understanding of social issues in their communities as well as skills around board engagement.  

We sat down with Nina Odell, Director of Local Government Affairs and Community Engagement, and Rachel Benner, Community Engagement Representative, who led this effort with support by TGP Senior Advisor, Leslie Silverman, to reflect on the work and what they learned. 

Screenshot image of Teams video call with Nina, Rachel, Leslie and Aya

Above: Video call with Nina (left), Rachel (top right) and TGP.


Thank you, Nina and Rachel, for sharing your perspectives with us! 


What inspired you to engage PSE employees in the foundation’s grantmaking work?


What are some examples of some of the shifts in the how of your grantmaking?


Let’s explore more about the why behind these shifts in grantmaking practices. What do they mean for the work and for our communities?


What are some of your biggest lessons learned from piloting this program? Were there any unforeseen challenges that you would share with others who might be testing similar approaches?


Three years from now, what would you like the program to look like? And do you have any questions for other funders out there?


You can learn more about PSE Foundation’s work at


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