Puyallup Watershed Initiative

1,000 square miles of partnership, inclusion and invention.

The Russell Family Foundation began the Puyallup Watershed Initiative (PWI) as a new model for community-centered change to improve the social and environmental health of the Puyallup River watershed, which comprises more than 1,000 square miles from Mt. Rainier to Commencement Bay.

It is the Foundation's largest place-based program that has brought together hundreds of leaders and nonprofit organizations, with the belief that the people who live and work in a place understand it better than anyone else. These working groups, or Communities of Interest, represent a broad coalition of businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and individuals. Together, these teams focus on specific issues, including transportation, local food, natural resources, environmental stewardship, public health, social justice and more.

To date, the PWI has helped leverage $34 million in funding and investments impacting its six Communities of Interest. In January 2018, the PWI transitioned from an initiative of the Foundation to its own independent nonprofit.

Communities of Interest

The initiative supports self-organized "Communities of Interest" - defined as groups of individuals, organizations, and/or partnerships that share specific values, interests, or concerns related to the health of the watershed and its communities.

Communities of Interest are collaborative, open-table groups made up of committed individuals and organizations. At this time, the foundation is working with the following Puyallup Watershed Communities of Interest:

Current Scope
Active Transportation
Significant increase in non-motorized transportation (walk, run, bike) via trails and dedicated lanes.
Preserving farmland; supporting farmers and maintaining a viable agriculture industry in the watershed.

Environmental Education
Creating continuous environmental education opportunities for K-16 and adults that reflect the diversity of issues in the watershed and are accessible to all residents; support civic engagement and residents' connection to the watershed.
Enhancing, preserving, and protecting existing forestlands as well as increasing forest cover in the lower, more urban areas of the watershed.
Industrial Stormwater
Improving the quality of industrial stormwater through education, outreach, incentivizing best practices, and better coordinating the regulatory system.
Just & Healthy Food Systems
Increasing access to healthy foods for all watershed residents; addressing inequities by building leadership that reflects the diversity of watershed residents.

The foundation welcomes individuals and groups interested in any of the issues listed above to plug-in and participate. We are interested in supporting collaborations that bring together diverse viewpoints and leave aside predetermined ideas about fixes until everyone at the table is operating from a shared understanding of goals. We want to spark new conversations and actionable 10-year strategies.


For more information about the Puyallup Watershed Initiative, please contact Henry Izumizaki or Fabiola Greenawalt.

For current COI events, please visit our Facebook page.

PWI White Paper 1

Dive deeper into how the PWI began, its framework for community-centered change, and the guiding principles behind the work of the Communities of Interest in the first of two white papers by TRFF on the progress of the Initiative.

Click here to download the document.

PWI White Paper 2

2017 marked the midway point in the 10-year Puyallup Watershed Initiative. Reflect on the PWI's progress to date, including its transition to its own independent nonprofit, and explore key achievements of the Communities of Interest in the second of two white papers by TRFF on the Initiative.

Click here to download the document.