We have some great news to share: Group Health Foundation is opening an office in Pasco.
Our staff have visited Pasco and the greater Tri-Cities several times during the past 18 months, much of it documented in our report, A Year on the Road. We have enjoyed beginning to build relationships here, with communities who are politically diverse, civically engaged, and deeply connected to their cultures and faith. Pasco is a regional hub that’s a gateway to many other communities, including several tribal nations in Eastern Washington.
We are grateful to community members who took time to share their experiences and aspirations during our visits. The African American Community, Cultural & Educational Society (AACCES) recounted to us the story of local African Americans, whose population grew at the start of the Cold War era as Hanford Site jobs became available. Leonard Moore is an AACCES leader; his father worked on the site’s railroad crew in the 1940s.
“We have seen many changes. African Americans were originally restricted to East Pasco. We are now widely dispersed throughout the Tri-Cities area,” said Leonard, who chairs AACCES’ history and recognition committee. “We intentionally organized to bring the African American community together through programs, activities, and events, while also educating and informing the wider community regarding our history, contributions, and culture,” he said.
Group Health Foundation’s office will be located in or near downtown Pasco, which is undergoing revitalization as the city’s cultural center. Pasco is majority Latinx, and 60 percent of the city’s population are people of color. The city’s diverse communities honor their roots by preserving and celebrating their history, stories, and cultures.
“Pasco’s rich history of diversity and positive growth has been the catalyst for a safe and vibrant environment that has enriched the quality of life for all of its citizens,” Mayor Saul Martinez said. “This is where they have established long-lasting family roots.” In the coming months, we’ll continue to update you about the progress of our next office, including announcements about its location and some new, locally based job openings.
Contrary to often-repeated myths about where diversity exists in Washington, we’ve had the honor of experiencing incredible diversity in every one of the state’s 39 counties. While each community has different strengths and opportunities, we heard common themes. We heard how meaningful it would be to have a local connection with a funder. We heard that centering local expertise will lead to more powerful grantmaking. We heard we need to deepen our understanding of the state by being present throughout it, especially in areas where philanthropy has largely been absent.
We are excited to act on this advice and expand our presence across Washington, beginning in Pasco.