2018 Grant Champions & Their Causes

The Winner of Our 2018 First Place Grant in the amount of $80,000 is…

About Eastside Legal Assistance Program:

Since its founding in 1989, Eastside Legal Assistance Program (ELAP) has never lost sight of its vision: that everyone should have access to justice in the civil legal system. By providing free, high quality, civil legal services to low-income residents of East King County and domestic violence legal aid to residents throughout King County, ELAP helps improve outcomes for thousands of vulnerable residents of our region by providing direct legal services. In 1995, ELAP established the Domestic Violence Legal Project (DVLP) to provide additional legal services to protect the health and safety of DV survivors. ELAP hired full-time attorneys to provide representation to DV survivors to supplement the legal advice that was provided by volunteer attorneys in ELAP’s DV/Family Law Clinics. Without ELAP, individuals would have to navigate the complex civil legal landscape alone.

PYP Grant Champion: Courtney Cohen

Courtney Cohen was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington and, except for one year where she returned to Las Vegas to work at the Bellagio Hotel, has lived in Seattle ever since.   After receiving her BA in Political Science from the University of Washington, Courtney attended law school at Seattle University and has had a successful career as a business attorney in both private practice and as in house legal counsel–previously at Microsoft and Snap, Inc. and currently at Avalara, Inc.  Courtney is passionate about giving back to the community and, in addition to working full time, serves on the board of the Eastside Legal Assistance Program, where she has been a board member, past President of the Board, and past Vice President of the Board during her 6 year tenure.   Courtney currently lives on Mercer Island with her husband and two young girls and in her free time enjoys playing tennis, paddleboarding and taking her girls on bike rides around the Island.


The Runner-Up, Receiving a Grant in the amount of $20,000 is…

About Project Access Orkila:

The purpose of the project is to provide funds for a low-income school to attend the Outdoor Environmental Education program at YMCA Camp Orkila.  For a school that has 60% or more of students described by the state as low income, it can be difficult to raise funds for a residential environmental education experience.   The school and community struggle to meet the basic needs of the students, and for many the experience seems out of reach.  Through serving students with these demographics in the past, the staff at Camp Orkila have learned of the impact the program can have on the life of a student from this type of community.  Opportunities for these students are sparse, and attending the program offers many new perspectives and can be eye-opening and motivating for a student.


PYP Grant Champion: Cara Perla

Cara Perla was raised on Mercer Island and graduated from the University of Denver. She was a leader in the field of marketing for health care systems before transitioning to her true passion–making sure her kids grow up to contribute to society and eat their vegetables. She is past president of the Mercer Island Preschool Association, a member of Mercer Island Parent Edge and a member of Ronnie’s Gals, which cooks monthly dinners at Ronald McDonald House for the past 15 years.  She is also an advocate for children with special needs–making sure they have access to learning resources and making the outdoors available to all. In her free time she enjoys playing tennis, skiing and time with her 2 children and husband.


PYP Grant Champion: Sarah LeClercq

Sarah LeClercq grew up in Portland, OR. She graduated with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University and worked in the bay area for a semiconductor company before relocating to the Seattle area in 2002. Sarah left her job in technical sales a few years later to stay home with her first son (she now has four active boys!) She enjoys volunteering in her community and has served as MIPA Co-President, Lakeridge PTA Co-President and now looks forward to joining Island Park and Islander Middle School PTA boards. She also serves on the board for Mercer Island FC. Sarah is passionate about supporting schools in her community and also providing educational opportunities to those less fortunate. She took her two older sons to India this year to visit schools and projects supported by a local organization, Kiran Anjali Project, which provides educational opportunities to girls living in poverty in India. Sarah enjoys travel, running, tennis and being active outdoors.

The Third Place Winner, Receiving a Grant in the amount of $5,500 is…

About Northwest Hope & Healing:

Northwest Hope & Healing (NWHH) provides immediate financial assistance to women undergoing breast or gynecologic cancer treatment at Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) who are struggling to meet their basic needs. With just one full-time employee, an active and engaged board of directors, a cadre of dedicated volunteers and the social workers at SCI, NWHH has spent the past 18 years helping some of the most vulnerable and needy cancer patients in King County. In 2017, NWHH supported more than 400 women with $120,000 in financial assistance in the form of gift cards or direct payment of bills. Funding support from PYP would allow NWHH to reach more women and increase grant amounts.


PYP Grant Champion: Jeanne Ballot

Born in New York, Jeanne Ballot grew up in Barrington, IL, a Chicago suburb, moved to Seattle in 2005 and to Mercer Island in 2010. Jeanne is married to Kevin Millison and is the proud stepmother of two teenagers, mom of two elementary-age children, and pseudo-mom for one puppy, two cats and, over the years, numerous fish. She has a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame and an MA in Communications Management from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. Jeanne started her career in the non-profit sector in Chicago and Los Angeles, working on higher education and public policy issues before transitioning to corporate communications in 1997. She spent 15 years at the Boeing Company working in all areas of communications, including leading all internal and executive communications for the company’s 70,000+ employee defense organization. Jeanne is a past board member of the Sunnybeam School, a current board member of the Mercer Island Girls Lacrosse Club and an active volunteer at her children’s schools and with their many activities. She also recently returned to work as a freelance grant writer for the Seattle Clemency Project. She enjoys travel, theatre, tennis and spending time at Hood Canal.