Breadth, Depth of Immigrant and Refugee Organizing Inspires Increased Funding for Movement Building

Representatives from this round of OIRFC grantee organizations gathered at Meyer's HQ in March 2024.

Last year saw a historic rise in the number of displaced people around the world and, tragically, a similarly unprecedented increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric. With these hateful sentiments come rumblings of new, exclusionary policies, both nationally and here in Oregon.

Since 2018, the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative (OIRFC) – a group comprised of The Collins Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust – has provided grants to organizations working to counter anti-immigrant narratives and foster long-term inclusion and belonging for Oregon’s immigrant and refugee communities.

Having been part of this work at Meyer since the beginning, I can say that the last six years of funding have led to critical successes. However, after primarily supporting work reacting to negative policies or practices, we asked ourselves if we should be more forward-thinking in our grantmaking. We got an answer in a series of grantee partner listening sessions last year. We heard a pressing need for funding to better mobilize, leverage and scale the collective impact of the immigrant and refugee community over the long term.

That’s why I’m particularly pleased to announce the latest round of OIRFC grants: A suite of funding specifically focused on organizations and coalitions in the advanced stages of movement building.

While the OIRFC had originally allocated $675,000 for this initiative, we were overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of organizing taking place. Thanks to additional contributions by the Oregon Community Foundation and Meyer, we were able to increase the total budget to $1,096,174.

After careful consideration, the OIRFC selected the seven projects below to receive funding in this initial round. These groups display a clear commitment to scaling their movement-building efforts. Please join me in celebrating these organizations, both for the work they have done in service to the community and for the critical work ahead of them.

They know what others sometimes forget: Immigrants have always been a part of Oregon’s story. They have played an integral part in building and sustaining our state’s economy and culture. They are part of what makes Oregon healthy and whole and, when we vilify them, we are only hurting ourselves.

Movement Building Grantee Partners

Adelante Mujeres (Women Rise Up) has a rich history of engaging the Latine/x and immigrant community by providing educational resources and acting as a forum for community advocacy. Through this project, they will strengthen their ability to unite with others in the broader community who are committed to advancing social and economic justice for the common good.

Bienestar (Well being) started 42 years ago providing dignified housing for migrant farmworkers. Now it develops multi-family rental properties that are safe, low-cost alternatives in an increasingly unaffordable housing market. They will use these funds to provide training and skill-building support for residents who can then raise their voices to advocate for equitable housing policies.

For more than 30 years, Community Alliance of Lane County has organized residents to advocate for racial justice, immigrant rights, human dignity, economic justice and educational equality. The organization’s leadership development program, Voces Unidas para la Justicia, works with and trains Latine/x youth and families so they can advocate for equitable education policy. They are now partnering with Escudo Latino, another community-centered leadership program for the Latine/x community. Their work will be focused on the education system of Springfield, Oregon.

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon works to engage diverse communities of faith in direct service to people living on low incomes and those marginalized and impacted by structural injustice. It offers a mix of social services to low-income immigrants. These funds will help the organization build upon its current coalition and community partnerships to establish immigration status as a recognized social determinant of health.

Oregon Latino Health Coalition has worked for almost 20 years to advance the health of the Latine/x people through policy, advocacy and prevention. This project will build capacity for Salud es Poder, a movement-building initiative to ensure a healthcare expansion policy to offer Oregon Health Plan benefits to people of any age or immigration status.

Oregon Rural Action Project is a grassroots and culturally diverse community-led organization based in La Grande and working across Eastern Oregon. They promote social justice, agricultural and economic sustainability, and stewardship of the region’s land, air and water. They aim to build a rural movement in eastern Oregon to advance greater health, food and resource equity; farmworker rights; and environmental justice.

The Next Door offers culturally relevant, community-centered programming for youth and families. Programs like equity and outreach training support further engagement in promoting resilient community health, effective public education and thriving economic development systems. This project seeks to advance civic equity through education and advocacy in the Mid-Columbia Gorge.

— Sally