Our goal is to make equity as much a part of our everyday operations as it is a part of Meyer Memorial Trust’s mission: To contribute to a flourishing and equitable Oregon. We believe that if we really want a flourishing Oregon, we can’t get there without equity.
Sounds great, but what does it mean and how do we do it?
Answering that has been one of the most difficult things we’ve taken on. "Equity" is just a word, but the full meaning of what it implies is a way of thinking and acting that’s different from business as usual. To understand the forces that cause disparities in our society, there is history to unravel and a need for us to take a thoughtful look at how race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, disability status, geography, age and other forms of bias and oppression are embedded within the institutions and systems in our community, within Meyer Trust, and within ourselves.
That means recognizing how privilege works as the flip side of bias and oppression, creating unspoken advantages for some communities over others. For us as a foundation, it also means grappling with our identity in a field born out of wealth and power. Ultimately, it means applying our learning as individuals and as an organization to make meaningful change in how we operate at the Meyer Memorial Trust.
We know this will be a continuing journey. In 2012, we revised our mission and values statement to reflect our understanding of equity as a matter of fair access to opportunities. Our thinking continues to evolve. Eight years later, as we deepen our commitment to a flourishing and equitable Oregon, we have refined our working definition of equity to mean the existence of conditions where all people can reach their full potential.
Using that as a guidepost, we see our role as working to dismantle barriers to equity and improve community conditions so all Oregonians can experience safety, health and prosperity. We will do our best to share the power and resources that come with being part of Meyer. And we pledge to do our best to track outcomes experienced in communities hit hard by bias and oppression.
A truly flourishing and equitable Oregon will take all of our collective knowledge and commitment.
As we redouble our effort to make this mission a reality, we expect it will be uncomfortable at times. We do not have all the answers. We will make mistakes. This work is worth it. Our shared future is at stake.
The story of Meyer’s journey towards equity and racial justice is not unlike the experiences many organizations have when tackling the important issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. In fact, we’ve come to know that our journey closely reflects the experiences of our grantees, our philanthropic partners and other public and private organizations working to deeply embed racial justice, inclusion and diversity within their policies, processes and practices.
What we’ve learned is that equity is not the end goal, but rather a continuous process and practice — an ongoing shift.
At Meyer, s.h.i.f.t stands for storytelling, healing, imagination, freedom and transformation.
It's how we describe the process we began in 2018 to reckon with our past and find a new way forward towards interdependence, belonging, collective well-being, equity and justice.
We are now at a turning point in our process of transitioning our s.h.i.f.t. work from a place of reflection and analysis towards active integration and organizational practice. We have also embarked on a strategic development process that will further refine our work to create a flourishing and equitable Oregon. With s.h.i.f.t as our framework, we’re connecting the dots between what we’ve learned and our vision for the future.
We invite you to click through the narrated presentation below to hear more about our story.
Sharing Our Thoughts
A selection of recent blog posts that give insight into how Meyer thinks about equity in theory and practice
Toward a New 'Gospel' of Philanthropy
Michelle J. DePass calls for a a new way forward in philanthropy and shares how Meyer is shifting internally and externally as it evolves to better serve and honor the wisdom of the communities it seeks to serve.
After Centuries of Extraction and Exclusion, It’s Time to Democratize Funding, Not Just Deploy It
D'Artagnan Bernard Caliman shares his connection to Tulsa and the latest on the Justice Oregon for Black Lives inititiative.
Equity Blog: Why equity still matters during a pandemic
Our collective health depends on our individual knowledge and actions. Meyer's DEI manger, Carol Cheney shares her thoughts on the importance of equity in the early months of the global coronavirus pandemic.
DEI Capacity Building In Oregon: Successes, Challenges and Wisdom from Meyer Grantees
When Meyer pivoted its vision towards “a flourishing and equitable Oregon” in 2016, it changed our funding structure and priorities. We began focusing our grantmaking on organizations that demonstrated commitments to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion — from internal capacity to programs, to policy and systems-level change.