Regional United Way gets $700,000 Gates grant

Focus is ending intergenerational poverty

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter



United Way of the Columbia-Willamette will receive a $700,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reduce intergenerational poverty in the Portland-Vancouver area.

More than 550,000 people live in poverty in its four-county area (Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties in Oregon and Clark County), according to a news release from the Portland-based organization.

About two weeks ago, the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington received a similar four-year, $700,000 grant from the Gates Foundation.

Rick Melching, Community Foundation executive director, said he has talked with Keith Thomajan, president/CEO of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, but neither organization is far enough down the road to know whether their plans might intersect.

They are among nine philanthropic partners in the Pacific Northwest that will distribute a total of $5 million from the Gates Foundation. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is the only one in Oregon.

The recipients will research local needs and work with community leaders to determine the best use of the grant funds.