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

    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.

  • 1930

    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

    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

    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

    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

    Innovating Online

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

  • 1996

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

  • 1998

    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

    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

    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

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

  • 2013

    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

    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

    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

    Meyer and Northwest Health Foundation announce the winners of "Equity Illustrated," a community effort to show what equity looks like in Oregon.

  • 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

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

  • 2017

    Two Trustees Depart, Two Arrive

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

  • 2017

    A national search for a new leader launched in summer 2017.

  • 2018

    A New Steward

    Picture of Michelle J. DePass

    After a six-month national search process, Meyer chose Michelle J. DePass to be its third president and chief executive officer from among 140 applicants.

     

    Originally from Queens, Michelle's career began as a civil rights attorney, and included work as a program manager at the Ford Foundation and a Presidential appointment as assistant administrator for international and tribal affairs in the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration. Immediately before coming to Meyer, Michelle served as dean of the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy and Tishman Professor of Environmental Policy and Management at The New School in New York.

     

    She holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School, an honorary doctorate from Fordham University and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, where she was a National Urban Fellow.

     

    Michelle stepped into the CEO role on April 30, 2018.