On April 15, Meyer Memorial Trust opened its Annual Funding Opportunity for 2019. This year, Meyer will award $34 million, $10.6 million through the AFO, for grants to support a healthy environment, ensure housing stability, prioritize equity in education and underpin community vitality throughout Oregon.
It’s been four years since Meyer redesigned its grantmaking to focus on equity. The organization has learned so much over that time, and we’re grateful to support organizations all over the state whose work makes Oregon better for every Oregonian. Looking forward, we want to ensure that our processes and practices make sense for our partners: to balance the weight of a grant with the process of applying for it, to solve for what has become an onerous application process, to time our grantmaking to better serve our grantees.
So we are making some changes in this year’s AFO process:
First, in the spirit of learning from our grantees, we have streamlined Meyer’s application process from two steps to one step. A simpler, single-step process allows for a more personalized, individualized conversation with applicants to inform our grantmaking. If required, additional information will be requested in a follow-up conversation and site visit.
Second, listening to our grantees led us to look at the timing of our education grantmaking. Beginning this year, the Equitable Education portfolio grants that are dependent on the academic school year will be awarded in July; the remaining Annual Funding Opportunity education awards will be announced in December with the bulk of our AFO awards.
Finally, our attempt to remain responsive resulted in the Building Community portfolio becoming a catch-all for applications that fell outside the other three portfolio areas. Over the past three years, it received more than 1,000 applications, with only 20 percent of applicants receiving grants. As a result we learned that we needed to better define and refine the portfolio. This year Building Community will invite key groups working explicitly on systems-level change to apply for about $2.5 million in funding.
Those are the changes. What we won’t change is our commitment to centering those who have been under-represented and historically disinvested, including Native communities and those often unseen or undercounted in rural areas.
We know that the challenges we face can’t be addressed within silos so we will continue to invest in cross-portfolio work that moves the needle on the work of diversity, equity and inclusion and ensures we are tapping the complexity of the strategic areas where we focus.
Beyond our strategic portfolios, Meyer remains committed to responding to relevant and urgent issues, supporting efforts that touch upon the lives of Oregonians. We believe in the importance of the Census Equity Funder Committee of Oregon, working with Portland’s Office of Community & Civic Life and 10 other foundations to ensure an accurate counting in the 2020 U.S. Census. Meyer continues to collaborate with the Health & Education Fund partners to invest in assessing and supporting parent, child, family and community resilience across all sectors. Finally, we remain active supporters of the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative designed to address crucial and time-sensitive issues facing immigrants and refugees.
Please visit our portfolio pages for specific information on the 2019 AFO and watch recordings of our virtual information sessions to learn more.