2019 Annual Funding Opportunity

Photo caption: Foreground, waves crash along the shoreline near an Oregon coast cliff. Background, rays of light radiate from a coastal lighthouse into the Pacific Ocean. Photo credit: Jamie Francis Photography.

Meyer’s grantmaking shifted this year to be more responsive and timely and we were pleased to learn that grantees appreciated this shift. Grants for work aligned with the school year were made in the summer and in the fall we made the rest of our Annual Funding Opportunity grants, a total of 142 grants, totaling $17.5 million. I was incredibly impressed by the work and commitment happening across the state of Oregon from rural to urban settings. You can take a look at the full AFO awards list broken down by portfolio and goal.

Here are the highlights of each portfolio.

Equitable Education

The Equitable Education portfolio received 98 applications requesting $13.5 million in funding, with 40 grants totaling $5.7 million eventually awarded. Similar to previous years, this year’s grant recipients include a balanced mix of urban and rural organizations reaching nearly every corner of Oregon. The Equitable Education portfolio’s continued commitment to equity requires us to remain distinctly focused on projects and programs that meet priority student needs, above all. Without these targeted investments, disparities grow, resulting in even greater inequities in the very classrooms where we are trying to eliminate them.

This year, organizations of all types affirmed their commitment to develop solutions designed to eliminate disparities in public education through policy and systems change and direct response to student needs. Among the Equitable Education grantees in the 2019 Annual Funding Opportunity, a few key themes emerged.

Oregon school districts are developing targeted strategies to advance education equity. Tigard-Tualatin School District, for example, will create a wraparound reengagement program for priority students experiencing school disconnection while Southern Oregon Education Service District will address disparities in hiring and retaining staff of color through improvements in their human resource systems.

Other grantees will bring their experience to statewide systems and policy change. Stand for Children and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators both recognize that for education equity to take hold in Oregon, our state’s leadership, priorities and policies must better reflect the needs and rich diversity of Oregonians.

Acknowledging the need to balance long-term system and policy impact with the urgency to address and improve achievement and college and career readiness for students, groups such as Together We Are Greater Than, College Dreams and Oregon Campus Compact will focus their efforts on key transitional moments to boost student readiness and/or achievement.

Additionally, organizations such as Black Parent Initiative, Adelante Mujeres and the Center for African Immigrants and Refugees of Oregon (CAIRO) are committed to expanding programs that strategically target priority populations while introducing innovative solutions to address persistent and deeply rooted barriers to student success.

Healthy Environment

The 43 Healthy Environment portfolio grants, totaling $4.8 million, support critical work in rural and urban communities across the state to shift how we work with each other and how we interact with the planet in ways that are grounded in values of justice, ecological sustainability and cooperation. These investments will strengthen front-line and community-based leadership to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face in Oregon: reducing greenhouse gases, shifting how we manage our precious water resources and redesigning land management practices to be adaptive to escalating wildfire risks, smoke and a changing climate, while also maximizing co-benefits for communities that experience disparities.

Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians will lead work with all nine Oregon Tribes to develop tribal renewable energy, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas policies and investment projects. A collaborative, led by Willamette Partnership, will increase capacity of rural communities of color to advocate for water justice priorities and influence state-level water management discussions that are underway. The Klamath Tribes will sustain their efforts to protect the endangered c'waam and koptu fish by advocating for better management of the Upper Klamath Lake ecosystem.

These are just a few examples of the work we are supporting that will contribute to environmental justice, healthy natural systems, an inclusive environmental movement and community well-being across this remarkable place we call home.

Housing Opportunities

The Housing Opportunities team was able to award 27 proposals, totalling $4.7 million in grants over three years. Meyer is supporting work to build and preserve housing that will be more affordable, give families room to manage their budgets and minimize instances of needing to choose between paying rent or a mortgage and paying for food, medication or school supplies. The investments will also bolster community-based work, grounded in values of equity and inclusion, to bring housing stability to people experiencing multiple forms of systemic oppression. Our partners work to foster stronger, more equitable and effective affordable housing systems using a variety of tools: community organizing and advocacy, applied research, and alignment of housing with health and other systems of care.

A few examples of the work funded in this batch of proposals: Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians is making progress to build 33 affordable homes for Tribal families in Douglas County. Unite Oregon, in collaboration with the Community Alliance of Tenants, is forming the SW Equity Coalition to implement equitable development actions that empower, stabilize and build capacity among communities in the Southwest corridor of Portland. And Clackamas Women’s Services will work with partners to provide housing support and wraparound services for domestic violence survivors of color, immigrants/refugees, and human trafficking survivors in Clackamas County. We are humbled by the challenges that our nonprofit partners regularly tackle in their efforts to increase housing justice in Oregon.

Building Community

As announced in March, the Building Community portfolio followed a modified approach this year, administering the AFO by invitation to a group of existing grantees that have made significant progress toward meeting BC’s anchor criteria: demonstrated commitment to DEI, engagement in systems change work and raising up constituent voice. In total, 32 organizations received funding totaling $2.27 million.

Organizations in this group work in a broad range of issue areas and with varied approaches. Innovation Law Lab employs a novel legal framework that breaks immigrant rights work into component parts to help visualize and realize pathways to immigrant inclusion. Unite Oregon’s work recognizes that urban models of community organizing do not easily translate to rural communities and that deep differences in language, culture and world view can inhibit potential allies from working together for solutions. Project Access NOW is formulating a referral system that can be more responsive to community health needs. They are doing this through an approach that allows community health workers at community-based organizations to broaden and strengthen impact among communities of color by referring uninsured or underinsured clients to health systems for care.

In addition, the Building Community team launched a small funding opportunity to learn alongside direct service providers that are working to deepen their work toward systems change. Twelve organizations from around the state were selected to participate in a series of three convenings and, as the program concludes, receive funding for a project to deepen their organizational capacity for engaging in systems change work. Funding is expected to total $850,000.

As you can see, there are many organizations doing incredible work in Oregon. It is an honor for us at Meyer to be partnering with these organizations that work so diligently to ensure that underrepresented people’s voices are lifted and cared for. I look forward to continuing to learn more about Oregon and the amazing organizations out there.

You can stay up-to-date with future funding opportunities from Meyer and our outreach plans when you subscribe to our e-newsletter here.