Get To Know Inatai | About Us
Nice to meet you
Inatai Foundation is a 501(c)(4) serving and accountable to leaders and organizations with bold visions who are building power in racially diverse communities across Washington state. Our vision begins with them: their ideas, solutions, and dreams for transformational change.
Our team and leaders with the Chinook Nation in Bay Center. Photo: Amiran White
As a foundation, we channel the funding, influence, and information we have to the leaders and organizations rooted in and led by the communities we answer to, so they have the resources, power, and opportunity they need to bring their visions to life.
The foundation was formed from the proceeds of the sale of Group Health Cooperative to Kaiser Permanente. Our goals were to be statewide, community-oriented, and equity-focused. Our name, “Inatai,” means “across” or “other side.” The word comes from Chinuk Wawa, an Indigenous language from Washington state with a long history of connecting people from different backgrounds. Our name expresses our hope for the future and commitment to Washington communities to achieve equity and racial justice in our state. We offer our appreciation to The Chinook Nation, whose members speak the Chinuk Wawa language, and who granted us permission to use Inatai as our name.
The foundation has grown since formation to include team members across the state working in four distinct areas: relationship building, policy and advocacy, investment management, and grantmaking. Since the foundation began significant grantmaking in 2019, we have awarded $220 million to community organizations. More than 80 percent of the organizations we support are led by people of color.
Our mission is to transform the balance of power to ensure equity and racial justice across Washington and beyond.
Our 50-Year Vision is that communities have the power and freedom to shape every part of how Washington works—every system and every decision, ensuring equity and racial justice in every corner of our state.
We are committed to ensuring that every choice we make as a foundation is aligned with our beliefs, our what we would describe as our values in action.
The five roles we play
Inatai team members with leaders from Crisis Support Network at Pacific County Pride. Photo: Amiran White
Funding and resourcing community-led organizations.
Community-led organizations represent the single most important vehicle for harnessing, increasing, and leveraging community power, which is essential for transforming Washington into a fully equitable and racially just state. Our role is to provide flexible, responsive resources that support organizations, networks, and leaders as they work to build power – without holding them back.
Using capital leverage to maximize benefit for communities.
Our endowment and investment operations give us the unique opportunity to encourage new norms that better serve communities and align with our values. Our role is to leverage our endowment so that it serves a purpose beyond merely sustaining our grantmaking. We use our infrastructure, expertise, and influence in the investment sector to offer greater financial freedom, mission-aligned choices, and a new model of investment and portfolio management to our values-aligned peers. Together, we are building a much larger investment pool that enables greater collective impact for all of us.
Investment team members Peng Wang, Angie Corwin, and Dawn Wilson at a panel during an all-team retreat in Bothell. Photo: John Lok
President & CEO Nichole June Maher leading a session during an all-team retreat in Winthrop. Photo: John Lok
Using institutional influence and resources to change policies, structures, and norms across government and civil society.
We are an institution that maintains significant financial resources, flexibility in political engagement, expanding institutional relationships and leverage, unique knowledge, and a team of people with deep and varied expertise. Our role is to use those assets proactively: working to build a constituency of influential individuals and institutions aligned with community interests and ready to take action in ways that shift the balance of power in Washington. When and where communities are denied power, we use our own direct influence with decision-makers to disrupt the status quo in policymaking, government administration, civil society, philanthropy, and beyond in order to tip the balance of power in communities’ favor.
Investing in power-building infrastructure that Black, Indigenous, and people-of-color-led community organizations need.
We support the strategies of community-led organizations, networks, and leaders as they work to maximize the power of currently accessible infrastructure and to gain access to public and private infrastructure that has been systematically denied to them. Our role is to identify and build the infrastructure which benefits every community-led organization and leader, but which no single organization or leader can build alone. These include tangible assets, resources, tools, and systems. Additionally, our role is to sustain the conditions necessary for that infrastructure to be used by communities to build greater community power.
Vice President of Grantmaking Steven Cole Schwartz and Senior Program Officer Jorge Gutierrez chat during a grantmaking meeting in Spokane. Photo: Uly Curry
Vice President of Learning & Community Engagement Brenda Anibarro facilitating a convening in Leavenworth. Photo: Uly Curry
Providing actionable information in service to community-led organizations and partners.
Our role is to understand and proactively meet community needs for creating, obtaining, sharing, processing and using actionable information. Actionable information is knowledge and insight in usable form — information communities can use to increase their power, better serve their people, and better influence public attitudes and priorities. The organizations and leaders we serve inform the reports and resources we create. Each piece of actionable information is designed to drive social change and tell truer stories about Washington state communities.
Latest foundation news
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No Mega Jail in Ferndale campaign is rejecting a proposal already struck down by voters twice.
Community leaders fended off efforts to close the only public library branch in the area.