Unbreakable bonds Unbreakable bonds Unbreakable bonds

Gifts to the UW’s Be Boundless campaign reflect the character and spirit that unites us.

By Ana Mari Cauce | Illustration by Anthony Russo | September 2020

The world is smaller than we realize. As each day shows us in new ways, our health, well-being and opportunities are all deeply connected to the lives of those both near and far.

These complex linkages make up the communities that define us and enrich our lives, vital ties that have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grandparents are separated from their children and grandchildren, a generation has sacrificed its rites of passage, communities have lost jobs and businesses, and more than 163,000 Americans have died, with many more suffering from the ravages of this disease— and we still don’t fully understand potential long-term effects. Even the luckiest of us have paid a price: We have lost neighborhood block parties and birthday celebrations, rooting with thousands of fellow fans at a baseball game or just getting coffee with a co-worker or classmate.

In the face of all this loss, we have also gained something: a united and unwavering resolve to defeat this pandemic. Across our great public University, researchers, teachers, clinicians and caregivers are seeking solutions. This multidimensional, interdisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of our University’s Population Health Initiative.

Population health is grounded in the understanding that the health of an individual is inextricable from the health of their community, and that healthy communities not only have preventive care and medical treatment, but also access to clean water, healthy food, green spaces and high-quality schools. Healthy communities also have safe streets, where Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) are not victimized by those sworn to protect them, and where economic and educational opportunity is available to all.

The pandemic has revealed how vulnerable all of us are to a highly communicable disease, but it has also cast a bright light on the ways in which economic inequity and health disparities make this pandemic even more lethal to some. For the low-wage worker who is deemed “essential” or the immunocompromised person whose health is already undermined by lack of resources, COVID-19 looms larger. Your philanthropic support has been key to the work we are doing to minimize these kinds of health disparities.

This year we mark the successful conclusion of Be Boundless—For Washington, For the World, a campaign in which hundreds of thousands of supporters have given through the UW to support the causes they care about. Your vision and generosity have improved countless lives and created untold opportunity for our students and our community of learning, discovery and service. Support for the Population Health Initiative is just one example of how philanthropic support for cutting-edge teaching, research and innovation can develop and amplify our existing resources to advance the greatest possible good.

From UW Medicine’s leadership on the front lines to test and treat COVID-19 patients, to the groundbreaking work on a vaccine and antibody tests, to the dozens of grants issued to researchers to help build a healthier, more equitable and more prosperous “new normal,” our University is attacking the virus from all angles, including its economic and social repercussions. Across the UW, philanthropic support has advanced learning and discovery in so many ways that contribute to a better world for all. Your generosity speaks volumes: We can create change and build a world that is safer, healthier and fairer for all. We can invest in science, research, public health education and preventive measures to try to ensure that future generations will never have to suffer the effects of a pandemic like this one.

Through your extraordinary generosity, you have shown that giving through the University of Washington is an investment in impact. Your gifts are a reflection of the character and spirit that unites us. Our community is strong, much stronger than the virus that is keeping us physically apart right now. Our bonds remain unbreakable. For that, I am profoundly grateful.