WA Equity Relief Fund for Nonprofits

WA Equity Relief Fund for Nonprofits

Over 300 nonprofit organizations across Washington state received $11.85M in relief funding.

The Washington Equity Relief Fund was made possible by the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) and was led by Philanthropy Northwest working closely with the Washington State Department of Commerce. This one-time investment provides flexible, general operating support to nonprofits that are led by and serve Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities most impacted by the global pandemic. 

About the Process

The Washington State Department of Commerce partnered with Philanthropy Northwest to administer $11,850,000 of relief funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act through an open application to community-based nonprofits and tribal organizations most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented impacts on nonprofit organizations including experiencing increased demand or disruption/creation of services; cancellation of contracts, programs, services or other funding losses such as canceled fundraisers, reduced donations and other issues affecting staff and volunteer capacity. We know these impacts are disproportionately experienced by organizations led by and serving BIPOC communities. These impacts are also pronounced among economically vulnerable people living in rural, remote and tribal communities.   

We issued the request for proposals on October 26, and organizations submitted almost 1,000 applications by the November 6, 2020 deadline. 

Applications were reviewed by 104 community individuals from across Washington State who were recruited to read and score applications.  

  • 95% of the reviewers identified as BIPOC.
  • 77% of reviewers identified as having lived experience with poverty.
  • 61% of reviewers identified having lived experience/knowledge in rural areas. 
  • 34% of reviewers identified as having lived experience/knowledge as an immigrant or refugee.
  • Reviewers represented all 39 counties in Washington State.
  • All reviewers were required to participate in anti-bias training and to examine the approach to application review, using the scoring rubric.

Find the complete list of recipients and grant amounts here.

“We had 104 community reviewers committed to making careful, tough decisions. The majority of these reviewers are from BIPOC communities, many with their own life experience and understanding of living in poverty and/or in rural areas. On behalf of these community reviewers and in partnership with the Department of Commerce, we are honored to award this money to 358 BIPOC nonprofit organizations throughout Washington.” - Anjana Pandey, Executive Vice President at Philanthropy Northwest.

About the Awardees

The priorities for this fund were organizations:

  • Serving BIPOC communities.
  • With staff and leadership reflective of the communities they serve; and
  • Serving populations in economically vulnerable areas especially in rural, remote and tribal communities.

Small organizations and those serving unincorporated areas were especially encouraged to apply.


The Department of Commerce and Philanthropy Northwest awarded $11.85 million to 358 nonprofit organizations across the state, with a particular focus on smaller organizations that are BIPOC-led and serving rural communities or are under-resourced communities in urban areas. Awards ranged from $25,000 to $75,000 and are being distributed in the last two weeks of December 2020.

  • 75% of awardees have budgets of less than $250,000; the remaining 25% have budgets of less than $1 million.
  • All 39 counties received funding (100% of counties represented). 
  • About 90% of awardees are majority BIPOC-led (50% or more board members and directors identify as BIPOC).
  • 36% of awardees are serving eastern Washington, which has disproportionately been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is imperative that we step up to support these trusted and much-needed organizations operated by and serving BIPOC communities. It is equally important that these communities lead the decision-making on how to prioritize these funds. The people served by these lifeline organizations face disproportionately higher rates of COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths. At the same time the need for services goes up, these nonprofits are fighting to survive because the donations and local resources they depend on have dried up.” - Lisa Brown, Commerce Director


Learn more about the WA Equity Relief Fund

If you have any questions, please email us directly. Responses will be sent during regular business hours.