RIDGEFIELD, Wash. (March 24, 2020) The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is awarding more than three-quarters of a million dollars to five Pacific Northwest nonprofit organizations poised to aid those impacted by the novel coronavirus. Through the Cowlitz Tribe Education and Arts Fund, $500,000 is being awarded to the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington’s SW Washington COVID Response Fund. Additionally, the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation Statewide Fund is dedicating $200,000 to the Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund and $25,000 each to Chief Seattle Club, Northwest Harvest and Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.
“We are honored to offer our support to those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19, from its strain on personal health to its toll on family finances,” said William Iyall, chairman of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. “However, this is a bittersweet moment for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, as these contributions are made possible by the many individuals who have been integral to the success of our casino, ilani, which has temporarily ceased operations as we work to protect our team members and their families as well as our guests and the wider community. We are hopeful that by following guidance from health and government authorities, we will overcome this crisis together and be able to resume our normal way of life before too long.”
“The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has a long tradition of giving back to our community. We are grateful for the opportunity to support the people who live in our homeland during this challenging time. Our initial investments in the COVID-19 response are part of the coordinated response from funders statewide. We will provide additional support as the situation develops,” said Karissa Lowe, Chairwomen of the Cowlitz Tribe Education and Arts Fund and Cowlitz Tribal Foundation Statewide Fund.
The Cowlitz Tribe Education and Arts Fund was established in 2019 to explore innovation; leverage resources; and support efforts to bring art, culture and education to the people and communities of Clark County, Washington. The fund is a collaborative venture consisting of representatives from the tribe and the Clark County Council. Given the unprecedented situation at hand, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe has elected to earmark funding to address urgent needs in the area, providing financial support to help ease the growing burdens resulting from COVID-19 and the measures taken to slow its progression.
According to the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, emergency funds will be dedicated to sustaining and developing vital services for community members who are most at
risk for health and financial challenges during the pandemic. The organization will prioritize
children, families, elders and those with compromised immune systems; healthcare and nonprofit employees; residents without health insurance and access to sick days; communities of color and residents with limited English proficiency; and economically vulnerable people, or those impacted by reduced and lost work.
Jennifer Rhoads, president of the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, added, “We are thankful for the support of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. This infusion will be critical as we ramp up efforts to meet the complex needs across our community, which are only anticipated to grow in the weeks and months ahead.”
The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation Statewide Fund was founded in 2018 to aid nonprofit organizations throughout the state of Washington. The fund has allowed the Cowlitz Indian Tribe to support local communities and organizations both large and small. In an effort to assist areas most effected by COVID-19, the tribe has elected to focus on organizations in Northwest Washington, while the Cowlitz Tribe Education and Arts Fund continues to support Clark County.
In the Puget Sound region, the Seattle Foundation has brought together a coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners to aid organizations serving its communities impacted by COVID-19 and the far-reaching economic consequences. Chief Seattle Club is dedicated to physically and spiritually supporting American Indian and Alaska Native people, providing for their basic needs, while the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County provide a safe place and quality programs for the area’s youth. Finally, Northwest Harvest is Washington’s statewide hunger relief agency and is gearing up to support increased demands as the economic impacts of COVID-19 escalate.
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s widespread community support was made possible through the success of its entertainment destination, ilani. Although the tribe has temporarily closed ilani to help combat COVID-19, it remains committed to serving the community and maintaining all tribal and governmental services. More information on the tribe’s COVID-19 measures can be found at www.cowlitz.org.
About the Cowlitz Indian Tribe
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has for thousands of years inhabited the land we now know as Clark, Cowlitz and Lewis counties. Today, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe is a growing force in community building in Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis and parts of Pierce, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties. Led by an elected Tribal Council, the tribe is investing in preserving its heritage and improving the lives of its members, which in turn advances the economy and vitality of Southwest Washington. The tribe’s casino, ilani, is rooted in its heritage and embodies this long-standing commitment. The tribe believes the success of ilani depends on ongoing successful relationships with the local community.