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Community Sustaining Fund awards $3,605 in fall grants to local groups

For 36 years the Community Sustaining Fund (CSF) has funded individual and organizational efforts to strengthen the fabric of people, environments and habitats that make up our Thurston County communities. The Community Sustaining Fund (CSF) was able to offer support to four local community organizations as part of its Fall 2022 grant cycle. This was made possible by the generous participation of community members in the Olympia Food Coop “Round Up” program.

A new microscope for Nisqually Reach

Sustained vision and commitment to community building by the Coop Board makes the Sustaining Fund possible. Significant funding through the ‘round-up” option depends on invaluable staff and working member cashiers who administer the program and ask members/shoppers if they would like to round-up with each purchase. Add to that the amazing coop members who kindly “round up” to the nearest dollar, and we have a successful grassroots effort that provides funding for important community needs.

All grant funds flow from community member donations. One hundred percent of donations go directly into the grant fund, with applications and awards made annually in the spring and fall. The amount of money available varies each cycle.

We are actively encouraging more groups to see if they qualify for CSF awards, and to make an application. One way to keep informed about the possibilities is to sign up for the CSF newsletter at That way, your group will receive notice when grant rounds open. Another way is to follow the Community Sustaining Fund of Thurston County on Facebook and Instagram to help spread the word that we have a local grant fund. Fall grants went to the Nisqually Reach Nature Center, to the Community Nature Foundation, to the Community Farmland Trust and to JOLT community news.

Nisqually Reach Nature Center (NRNC) – $605

NRNC is located on the Puget Sound, as part of the Nisqually Nature Preserve. This small nonprofit center handles important research through their Forage Fish Citizen Science Surveys Project. Local citizen scientists, using microscopes for the research, examine sand gathered from beaches in the area during the season when forage fish (surf smelt and sand lance) spawn, laying their eggs in the sand. Their lifecycle is an important part of that of the salmon who feed on the forage fish. CSF funds will go toward a new and more powerful microscope.

Community Nature Foundation (CNF) – $750

This local nonprofit works to protect the ecosystems of urban forests and open spaces from development through community projects. CNF came to us to help with a fundraiser for a project they call “Save Ferngully Forest.” This piece of land, located in Eastside Olympia, is next to a wetlands and Indian Creek. It is up for sale and potential development, and CNF is planning a fundraiser in the hopes of purchasing the land to stop any development from happening.

Funds awarded by CSF will support an event designed to bring in high-level entertainment in order to draw major funding to complete a sale currently being negotiated with the owners.

Community Farmland Trust (CFLT) – $750

The Community Farmland Trust supports local farmers and the land vital to producing the food we depend on for sustenance. CFLT secures land that might otherwise become subject to development, instead retaining it for agricultural use. Each year they publish a comprehensive newspaper, “Fresh From The Farm,” listing farms, CSAs (community supported agriculture), and farmers’ markets in our region.

They are in the process of migrating and updating their information technology (IT) services from the University of Washington to an in-house system, which will greatly reduce their costs for this service.

Jolt News – $1,500

Jolt News is a “Journal of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater,” reporting online on local issues. Project Coordinator Danny Stusser spoke at his interview about the need for funds to support writing contractors, part-time editors, reporters and researchers. There is no local non-partisan news source that covers the various meetings, citizen actions, and other important activities in our tri-city community, particularly those related to social justice, community-building and the environment. In order to gather information JOLT employs five reporters and two assistant editors. Their request to CFS was for funding for stipends for the members of the news team.

Desdra Downing is on the board of the Sustaining Fund.

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