November 21, 2016

Different Approaches / Equitable Outcomes

The Building Community team received more than 400 applications from the first funding call under Meyer’s new grantmaking structure (please take a look at Candy Solovjovs’ blog post which describes this in more detail). After months of careful review and many difficult decisions, we are excited to announce 65 grants under the Building Community portfolio, totalling $7.4 million over three years.

From raising up Latino voices in Oregon’s North Coast region to supporting an inclusive arts community among people with disabilities in Portland, the quality and breadth of work underway across Oregon that supports an equitable state for all impressed us.

In many respects, this was a very competitive pool of applications. Applicants that were advanced past the initial letter of inquiry phase were able to show a link between their strategic goals and the goals of this funding opportunity.

Although the full slate of grantees — viewable here — includes a broad range of projects, several themes did emerge.

Many grantees responded to Meyer’s interest in addressing systems change. Some organizations — including the American Civil Liberties Union, Oregon Justice Resource Center, Partnership for Safety and Justice, Red Lodge Transition Services and Central City Concern’s Flip the Script Project — are trying to address inequities in the criminal justice system, for example.

In other cases, the work was less about a specific issue area and more about understanding interconnectedness with others within a system to become more effective advocates. A number of grantees — including  Oregon Center for Public Policy, Rural Organizing Project, State Voices, Unite Oregon and Western States Center promote equity and fundamental change by addressing a range of issues and employing a variety of tactics.

Recognizing that solutions to complex social issues cannot be created and carried out without community input and participation, a number of grantees are intentional about applying what they learn from those they serve. Groups such as The Next Door, Inc. in Hood River and the Health Care Coalition of Southern Oregon in Medford utilize innovative approaches to addressing health equity by relying on the lived experience and wisdom of community members.

By directly involving people with disabilities in program design and implementation, groups such as Families and Community Together, PHAME Academy and On-the-Move Community Integration are creating different paradigms that challenge notions of equity and inclusion. To amplify the voices of low-income families, grantees such as Multnomah County and Central City Concern/TANF Alliance are creating new programs aimed at achieving equitable outcomes while also influencing the way in which government services are delivered and received.

What these and all Meyer’s grantees and applicants show us is that the nonprofit sector is rich in solutions and passion and not shying away from addressing vital needs. Sincere thanks to all the time and intent put forward by applicants to the Building Community portfolio.

In an effort to continue to meet those needs, we are excited to jump back into grantmaking with two new opportunities designed to bolster the strength of the nonprofit sector through leadership development and support for capacity builders across all our portfolio areas. Both opportunities are open until December 7.

In the aftermath of this recent election, we are as committed as ever to promoting equitable outcomes for all Oregonians. Our work continues.

Dahnesh