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TACOMA, Wash. – WorkForce Central and a large group of community partners have won a $1.75 million grant aimed at lifting 250 households out of poverty on Tacoma’s Eastside.

The Economic Security for All grant, which uses funds from the governor’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act discretionary U.S. Department of Labor budget, was designed to focus on one zip code and lift a significant number of people out of poverty over the course of 33 months.

The grant will serve 440 people in the 98404 zip code who are currently on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or are eligible for it. WorkForce Central and its partners will coordinate an outreach and support effort in that area with a special emphasis on the Salishan Community. The goal: to move those 440 people into career pathways that will launch them above 200 percent of the federal poverty level – or earning an income above $32,480 (200 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of two).

“Thank you to all of our partners who worked together quickly in a very short amount of time to submit a winning proposal,” said Linda Nguyen, CEO of WorkForce Central. “This award, coupled with resources committed by WorkForce Central and our partners, will enable us to launch and support demonstrated and innovative strategies that will help our families achieve economic stability.”

The 33,543 people living in 98404 represent 4 percent of Pierce County’s total population, but account for 7 percent of people living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Almost half – 15,854 – of individuals living in 98404 fall below that threshold. No other zip code in Pierce County has more residents receiving food assistance.

This grant represents a huge opportunity and significant effort that will require partner agencies with different skillsets to wrap around families on Tacoma’s Eastside and, working together, give them the tools to become financially stable.

Directed by WorkForce Central and with space provided at the Salishan Association Family Investment Center, the initiative will combine best practices from partners such as South Sound 2-1-1; Centers for Strong Families; Guided Pathways; Tacoma Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency; and Career Readiness, Education & Development (CRED) to connect clients with services that include mental health, employment and training, transportation, and housing; work with families to reduce debt, build credit, grow assets and increase financial literacy; improve retention and graduation rates; and connect clients to training courses to give them the skills they need to be successful at work.

Seamless cooperation between the agencies working on this grant will be key to its success, and the partners will adopt a common referral system, a joint reporting dashboard and provide monthly updates so partners are aware of the services being offered to clients.

The strength of our application was a credit to the partners who helped us develop the vision for this initiative, and who will make its success possible. This group exemplified our mission statement: Partnering in pursuit of greater economic vitality for all!

Thanks to the Department of Social and Health Services Pierce South Community Service Office, United Way of Pierce Co., Metropolitan Development Council, Tacoma Housing Authority, Washington Hospitality Association, Career Team, Tacoma Ministerial Alliance, Goodwill Olympics and Rainier Region, Clover Park Technical College, Tacoma Community College, Metro Parks Tacoma, Sound Outreach, Latinos Unidos Northwest Association, Salishan Association, and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department for their partnership and contributions.

WorkForce Central strengthens the Pierce County economy by identifying skill gaps between jobseekers and employment opportunities, fostering data-driven decision making, and connecting workforce development partners into a cohesive, collaborative and effective network.