UWT nonprofit studies class awards grants to Tacoma nonprofit organizations

Non-profit studies assistant professor Ruth Bernstein and her students from the TNPRFT 455 hosted an event March 19 to award grants to three nonprofit organizations in the Tacoma area. This was a project that the class had been working on collectively over the course of winter quarter.

In partnership with Kitsap Community Foundation, the class had a total of $5,000 to award. The class was treated like a foundation board of directors, holding “board meetings” to decide how to allocate funds and were given a choice to give a lump sum of money to one organization or award smaller amounts to several organizations. The class resolved to divide the money up into three tiers: one award for $2,500, one for $1,500 and one for $1,000. Bernstein explained what she wanted her students to take away from the class.

“I wanted the students to learn how hard it is to give money properly and to ensure that the gifts will have an impact on the clients, community or society,” Bernstein said. “This was all directed by the students with me just facilitating the discussion and voting.”

Narrowed down from many organizations, the class voted on three finalists. The class then picked the organizations based on a few factors that included the group’s impact on the Tacoma area and groups who would be the most impacted by the grants.

The group Safe Streets received the $1,000 grant. Their mission is to, “unite neighbors, youth and businesses to build safe, healthy, thriving communities.” One of their key programs is the implementation of clubs in high schools in the Tacoma area. These clubs are student-led and guided by staff members to improve academic performance, learn leadership skills and learn about prevention issues.

For the middle-tier grant award of $1,500, the Gordon YMCA in Tacoma was chosen. This YMCA branch has done a lot of work on adaptive programming for their facility, including making activities inclusive for children with disabilities and special needs. This organization was chosen for their work in facilitating an inclusive community where every individual feels a sense of belonging, as this can be a challenge for those with special needs.

The organization that received the highest grant of $2,500 was the Affordable Housing and Treatment that provides help to people with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Their work in offering affordable housing and healthcare empowers people to heal and receive support in various ways, such as support programs, medical assistance and education. With an annual operating budget of $40,000, the TNPRFT 455 class decided that this organization would benefit greatly from receiving the largest grant amount because they face challenges with their small budget.

“While [Affordable Housing and Treatment] only serve[s] 14 residents, the impact on those individuals is truly transformative and therefore, influenced the students,” Bernstein said.


For more information on these nonprofit organizations, please visit:

Safe Streets:

Gordon YMCA: