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Community Initiatives

WCF / Thrive / Community Initiatives

Community Initiatives



What would it take for everyone who lives here to thrive? We believe our community can achieve equity by providing all of our neighbors with access to 3 game changers:
1. Relationships – mentors, role models & connectors;
2. A Quality Education – early childhood through high school and beyond; and
3. Money – the financial ability to make or take advantage of opportunities.

How does the Whatcom Community Foundation help?  By chipping in wherever we can do the most good.  That can be through shaping policies & practices, or investing in systems that increase resilience or through deploying resources.  Join us and give now. 


The Millworks is envisioned as an affordable place for people to live, work and enjoy our stunning waterfront. The Whatcom Community Foundation is working with local partners, including Mercy Housing and RMC Architects, to develop this community benefit project at Laurel Street and Cornwall Avenue, the gateway to the new Waterfront District. The project features a food campus, which connects local producers with buyers, while integrating public assets such as a center for employee ownership, childcare facilities and around 70 units of workforce housing and potentially healthcare services. Combined, these elements will play a crucial role in the waterfront redevelopment, supporting economic growth and fostering prosperity on multiple fronts.


What if we could ensure a market for local farmers and feed our food-insecure neighbors in one program? That’s the Farm-to-Freezer project in a nutshell, and it’s just one idea cooking in the Food Security Task Force (FSTF), convened in late March by the Community Foundation at the request of Whatcom Unified Command. The FSTF addresses six key factors of food security, ranging from production to policy. The task force, which meets virtually twice a week, includes all regional food banks and public schools countywide, as well as the Opportunity Council, Council on Aging/Meals on Wheels and More, Whatcom Family Farmers, Salvation Army, Puget Sound Food Hub, Sustainable Connections, Miracle Food Network, YMCA, and retail grocery stores, including the Community Food Co-Op. Our goal is simple, though by no means easy: To ensure food security for all Whatcom County residents, particularly those with barriers to food access (economic, mobility, health, etc.), while maximizing nutrition and minimizing health risks during the Covid-19 pandemic.


The Threshold Fund is designed to put philanthropic dollars to work by guarantying construction loans for affordable housing projects. As a result, your gift helps to significantly reduce the cost of capital which means more affordable homes are built for less money. That means more safe, stable homes for more of our neighbors. Even more exciting, the funds can be used over and over again. More homes, more families’ lives changed for the better. Give now.


Employee-owned companies have demonstrable positive impact on job creation, business retention, job quality and stability. Research also shows that employees of worker-owned businesses have better pay and benefits, as well as higher retirements savings. In Whatcom County, researchers counted more than 2,000 small businesses that may undergo an ownership transition in the next decade. These businesses employ 16,810 workers and generate $589.5 million in payroll, showing the profound impact on the Whatcom County economy should even a fraction close or sell. The data also reveals the potential to retain businesses in the community through employee ownership strategies. The Community Foundation is working to ensure that owners and employees who are interested in employee ownership have easy access to the resources they need all along the way.


The Whatcom Complete Count Committee (WCCC) is a volunteer census support effort established by tribal and local governments, community leaders and organizations, and supported by the Whatcom Community Foundation. Undercounting results in lost funding, increased economic and social challenges, and flawed decisions (e.g. regarding political representation and boundaries or where a business locates). WCCC was formed in 2019 to help orchestrate a fair and complete count in the 2020 census. It helped ensure that Whatcom County exceeded its 2010 response rate, despite challenges that include the citizen question and the Covid-19 pandemic. In the aftermath of the 2020 census, WCCC is evaluating its work and planning for the 2030 census.


Connecting local farmers and students just makes sense. Since 2009, Whatcom-Farm-to-School, supported by the Foundation’s Sustainable Whatcom Fund, has changed the food purchasing and education practices at many Whatcom County schools as well as early care and education sites by ensuring that students have access to healthy, local food. In addition, educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips are made available, encouraging children and their families to make informed food choices and support local food producers. Give now.

“Just a quick note of thanks so say how much I appreciate you and the entire Whatcom Community Foundation team’s efforts to coordinate communication and action during this crisis.  ​

The leadership you are providing is SO helpful as we work to meet a growing need in a constantly changing environment.  Please pass my sincere thanks on to your team.  Blessed by all of you.”

Sincerely, ​

Chris Orr, Executive Director at Whatcom Council on Aging