Explore Our History

We trace Meyer Memorial Trust's values back to Fred Meyer's spirit of entrepreneurship.

  • 1886

    Frederick "Fritz" Grubmeyer is born in Germany.

  • 1889

    Young Grubmeyer emigrates with his family from Germany to New York, settling in Brooklyn, where the family ran a small grocery store.

  • 1909

    Picture of Portland in the early 1900s

    Grubmeyer Comes to Town

    After an unsuccessful stint at gold mining in Alaska and a job driving for a grocery store in Seattle, he comes to Portland and builds a coffee cart business into a retail outlet in a downtown street market.

  • 1911

    Grubmeyer opens a brick-and-mortar coffee stall on Washington Street.

  • 1920

    A Name Change

    With a name change to Fred G. Meyer, he opens the first "all package" grocery store, eventually combining supermart with drugstore, fine jewelers, home decor, home improvement, garden center, sporting goods, electronics, toys and clothing.

  • Picture of early Fred Meyer store


    A Growing Concern

    Fred Meyer, Inc. will eventually grow into a chain of stores and restaurants employing more than 13,000, with annual sales of more than $1 billion.

  • 1978

    Picture of Fred G. Meyer

    A Powerful Legacy

    Fred G. Meyer dies at the age of 92, leaving 2 million shares of stock (then valued at $63 million) for a charitable foundation with few mandates. "Realizing as I do the uncertainties of the future, I want my trustees to be able to exercise broad discretion in shaping and carrying out charitable programs which can be tailored to fit changing conditions and problems."

  • 1981

    Picture of old newspaper headline about sale of Fred Meyer stored

    The Value Doubles

    The company is purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, KKR, in one of its first leveraged buyouts. The value of Meyer's stocks doubles.

  • 1982

    Foundation Doors Open

    Fred Meyer Charitable Trust is established with five trustees and about $120 million during a deep recession. Charles Rooks is named Executive Director of the new Trust, which represented over half of the foundation assets in Oregon and about a quarter of those in the Pacific Northwest.

  • 1983

    Picture of old health brochure page

    After the first year of operation, Meyer awards more than $2.3 million in grants to 34 organizations in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., ranging from $4,000 for a family-centered therapy program at Infant Hearing Resource to $1,000,000 to help construct the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

  • 1986

    As Assets Grow, So Do Awards

    Meyer's assets top $222 million, and awards 91 grants totaling $7.4 million.

  • 1990

    Our Name Changes

    We change our name to Meyer Memorial Trust to make clear the foundation is not connected to Fred Meyer Inc., the commercial enterprise.

  • 1991

    1,000th grant awarded.

  • 1995

    Our Longest Serving Trustee

    Debbie Craig joins Meyer’s board of trustees.

  • 1996

    Picture of Meyer's original web page

    Innovating Online

    With the launch of mmt.org, Meyer becomes the first foundation in Oregon to create a website.

  • 1996

    Picture of John Emrick

    When trustee Travis Cross resigns, John Emrick becomes a Meyer trustee, serving until his own retirement in 2016.

  • 1998

    Picture of Orcilia Zúñiga Forbes

    After the death of trustee O.B. Robertson, Orcilia Zúñiga Forbes is named a Meyer trustee, serving until her death in 2015.

  • 2001

    3,500th grant awarded.

  • 2002

    Picture of Doug Stamm

    New Leadership

    Charles Rooks retires after two decades. Doug Stamm, formerly of Nike and Friends of the Children, steps into the role on the 20th anniversary of the Trust's inception.

  • 2007

    Along with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Heron Foundation, Meyer helps launch a campaign to encourage more mission related investing by foundations.

  • 2007

    New Strategic Focus

    We undergo our first full-fledged strategic redesign process, establishing 10-year initiatives aimed at affordable housing and the health of the Willamette River.

  • 2007

    Picture of George Puentes

    George Puentes is appointed to Meyer's board, serving until his retirement in 2016.

  • 2008

    With Oregon battered by the Great Recession, Meyer focuses on the health of struggling nonprofits, shelving the most ambitious aspects of the redesign.

  • 2010

    Rethinking Investment

    The Harvard Kennedy School of Government publishes a study about Meyer's use of mission-related investing.

  • 2010

    Meyer becomes the first foundation to meet all of the Foundation Center's Glasspockets transparency criteria.

  • 2010

    Milestone: $500 million awarded

    By 2010, Meyer has awarded a total of $500 million to tax-exempt organizations working for the public good in Oregon and Clark County, Wash.

  • 2013

    Picture of an early Meyer equity team

    Meyer begins to focus on equity with full-staff equity training programs.

  • 2013

    Picture of Charles Wilhoite

    Charles Wilhoite is named a Meyer trustee.

  • 2014

    A New Definition of Equity

    Meyer embarks on a second strategic redesign process and refines its definition of equity to mean "the existence of conditions where all people can reach their full potential." We release our equity statement.

  • 2014

    80% of Oregon

    We've awarded grants in every one of Oregon's 36 counties and about 80% of cities, communities and unincorporated places in the state.

  • 2015

    Pausing to Re-focus

    Meyer takes a "working hiatus," continuing to engage and invest in efforts aligned with our current priorities while also planning for future programs. To date, Meyer has paid out nearly $692 million through more than 8,200 grants and program related investments.

  • 2015

    A Chapter Ends

    Meyer sunsets grantmaking to Clark County, Wash., to focus on needs in Oregon.

  • 2016

    New Look, New Programs

    Picture of Meyer's new logo as of 2016

    Meyer emerges from hiatus with a new visual identity and a new website, resuming full program operations within four new issue-focused, equity-based portfolios: Building Community, Equitable Education, Healthy Environment and Housing Opportunities.

  • 2016

    Picture of Darleen Ortega and Toya Fick

    Board Grows to 6

    After amending bylaws to allow for more than five board members, Meyer names new trustees: Darleen Ortega and Toya Fick. Darleen stepped down from the board in February, 2018.

  • 2016

    Charles Wilhoite becomes Board Chair.

  • 2016

    In first annual funding call, Meyer receives 675 applications requesting $95 million. Grants made: 151 awards totalling $17.3 million.

  • 2017

    Meyer Marks 35 Years

    Picture of Doug Stamm at a Meyer Mission Day

    Meyer Memorial Trust turns 35. Doug Stamm announces he will step away in 2018.

  • 2017

    Picture of Janet Hamada and Mitch Hornecker

    Two Trustees Depart, Two Arrive

    Meyer names two new trustees to replace John Emrick and George Puentes: Janet Hamada and Mitch Hornecker.

  • 2018

    A New Steward

    Picture of Michelle J. DePass

    After a six-month national search process, Michelle J. DePass joins Meyer as its third president and chief executive officer. A former dean at The New School and administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, DePass is the first woman and woman of color to serve in the position.

  • 2019

    Picture of Debbie Craig

    Debbie Craig, Meyer’s longest serving trustee, retires in April 2019.

  • 2019

    Toya Fick becomes board chair in March 2019.

  • 2019

    Picture of Alice Cuprill-Comas

    Alice Cuprill-Comas joins Meyer's board of trustees in July 2019.

  • 2019

    Meyer begins construction of its future headquarters campus in North Portland.

  • 2020

    Unprecedented Challenges

    Picture of Oregon wildfires in 2021

    Oregonians face a series of unprecedented and overlapping crises in 2020, including a global pandemic, racial justice reckoning and devastating wildfires. Staff and board work remotely to provide emergency and response funding, while easing reporting and other requirements for grantees.

  • 2020

    Picture of Amy C. Tykeson

    Amy C. Tykeson joins Meyer's board of trustees in July 2020, rounding out the number of board members to six.

  • 2020

    A New Initiative

    Picture of a man raising his fist

    In July 2020, Meyer launches Justice Oregon for Black Lives, a five-year, $25 million initiative to uplift Black Oregonians, leadership and organizations is a commitment to harness the momentum toward racial justice by deepening investment in Black-led and Black-serving organizations, community well-being and lasting strategic change.

  • 2020

    Picture of Meyer's new headquarters in North Albina

    Construction of Meyer's new headquarters in the North Albina neighborhood is completed in October 2020. It is the first Leed Platinum v4 new construction building in the country and wins multiple awards for a commitment to sustainable building and equitable hiring practices. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for opening celebrations and access to community spaces are delayed as Meyer staff continues to work remotely into 2021.

  • 2021

    Janet Hamada becomes Board Chair in April 2021.

  • 2022

    A New Mission

    Meyer adopts a new mission: to accelerate racial, social and economic justice for the collective well-being of Oregon’s lands and peoples.

  • 2022

    Michelle J. DePass steps down as president and CEO.

  • 2022

    Picture of Toya Fick

    Toya Fick is appointed as Meyer's fourth president and chief executive officer in September 2022.