Grantmaking Staff Share Noteworthy Grants of 2023

Members of Meyer's program team reflect on our 2023 grantmaking.

A portrait of Nancy Haque 

Nancy Haque
Director of Policy and Programs

“I think some of the most meaningful grants Meyer made in 2023 weren’t the biggest; they were the ones where we were responding to a crisis in the community. Being able to reach out to an organization and say, 'Hey, I see this is happening. I see how your organization is trying to help. How about we get you some support?' was incredibly moving to me as a grantmaker. We were able to do that for PCUN after a tragic car accident took the lives of 11 farm workers. And then, again, during the Portland teacher's strike, we were able to support IRCO, SEI, Latino Network and Boys and Girls Club which were providing meals to students. Having spent the majority of my career in nonprofits, it would have made me feel so seen for a funder to understand our work at a level where they would reach out to us like that. It feels like a dream come true to make it happen for our grantees.”


A portrait of Helen Wong

Helen Wong
Director of Learning and Grant Operations

“In 2023, I’m particularly proud that Meyer invested in first-time grantees building Pacific Island and Southeast Asian communities. (Great examples include the Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition, Hmong American Community of Oregon and Filipino Bayanihan Center.) This investment is a direct result of hearing from community leaders about the invisibilization of the “AAPI” label and a request to be more nuanced in how we approach funding. We recognize that Southeast Asian and Pacific Island communities have faced historic underinvestment across all philanthropy, including Meyer. At the same time, we acknowledge these vibrant communities are integral to Oregon. I was particularly touched by the care and thought the partners gave to connecting elder and youth generations and wish I had access to these types of programs as a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest.”


A portrait of Allister Byrd

Allister Byrd
Program Officer, Justice Oregon for Black Lives

“Last year, Justice Oregon for Black Lives leaned into funding partnerships and coalition-based work to prompt long-term change. We knew there would be some new partnerships formed because of the funding opportunity, but that there was already lots of collaboration happening within the Black community. One partnership I got to experience firsthand was the Oregon Black Pioneer’s Letitia Carson exhibit at The Center Powered By Y.O.U.TH in Gresham. The Letitia Carson Legacy Project is a partnership between Black Oregon Land Trust, Oregon Black Pioneers, the Linn Benton NAACP, Mudbone Grown, and Oregon State University. The interactive exhibit (complete with a historical reenactor acting as Leticia Carson at the opening reception!) detailed the life of one of the first Black women to settle in Oregon and helped the students at Y.O.U.T.H place themselves in the larger context of Black history in Oregon. It’s a really cool project that bridges the past and the future.”


A portrait of Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips
Program Associate, Our Resilient Places

“The grant that is top of mind for me — after the recent cold snap (the worst I’ve ever experienced in my time in Oregon) — is an operating grant we made to Community Energy Project. They provide deep home energy retrofits for low-income households in the Portland area. These retrofits can include everything from insulation and efficiency upgrades to switching homes from fossil fuel heat sources, all while saving clients money on utility bills and making homes healthier and more comfortable. Community Energy Project also does critical advocacy work in solidarity with their clients. In 2023, they served on nine committees and coalitions dedicated to climate justice and equitable energy policies while also working at the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The winter storms, summer heat waves and wildfires in recent years have made climate change hit home more viscerally for all of us. I’m happy Meyer is supporting groups like Community Energy Project that are leading the way toward a more just energy future.”


A portrait of Sally Yee

Sally Yee
Program Officer, Together We Rise

“Ensuring safe workplaces and protecting workers’ rights may seem like straightforward work, simple even. It is anything but that. For more than 20 years, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project (NWJP) has been working mostly behind the scenes to work on behalf of Oregon's most vulnerable worker communities. They have had to earn the trust of workers who routinely experience workplace abuse, risk employer retaliation for raising these issues and have no guarantee that speaking up will make any difference. NWJP and its organizers earn the trust of workers so they can provide them with the support they need to confront workplace issues; trust that laws can be made to work in their interest and effectively use their voices to ensure their workplaces are safe, their rights are respected, and their humanity is honored. The word ‘awesome’ comes to mind when I think about all they do and I’m so glad Meyer was able to support their work in 2023.”


A portrait of Erin Dysart

Erin Dysart
Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives

"Is it cheating if I highlight one grant that will actually be a whole collection of grants? Because I'm excited about our growing collaboration with Pride Foundation, the only LGBTQ+ community foundation serving a five state region in the Northwest. In 2023, Meyer committed to partnering with Pride Foundation to co-fund the upcoming round of their community grants in Oregon. These grants provide critical support to small, grassroots, LGBTQ+ led and focused organizations, especially outside of metro areas. Pride Foundation nurtures its deep network of trusting relationships across the state (reaching many groups that Meyer does not), which allows them to get resources where they are needed -- into the hands of folks within the LGBTQ+ community who are most harmed by systemic injustices like racism, xenophobia, ableism and transphobia. I'm inspired by Pride Foundation's intersectional, community-centered, and proactive approach to grantmaking, and I'm thrilled about what this kind of partnership can make possible."


A portrait of Violeta Alverez Lucio

Violeta Alvarez Lucio
Program Associate, Our Collective Prosperity

“In 2023, Meyer partnered with Oregon Collective Summit (OCS) leaders, Bekah Sabzalian and Andre Goodlow, to co-host two summits that brought together hundreds of multigenerational educators of color. These events provided much-needed space of connection, learning and celebration. I attended OCS for the first time in the fall and felt proud of Meyer’s ongoing commitment to supporting this work. At the event, the student panel shed light on the positive impact that teacher pathway programs have for students and aspiring educators of color. One of these programs that Meyer supported separately in 2023 is the University of Oregon’s Sapsik’ʷałá Teachers Education program. It’s a tuition-free initiative that ‘collaborates with all Nine Federally Recognized Sovereign Indian Nations of Oregon and the UOTeach master’s program to deliver a pathway for Indigenous people to become teachers within their communities.’ It provides financial resources, mentorship and spaces where the cultural identity of aspiring educators is valued and celebrated.”


A portrait of Molly Gray

Molly Gray
Program Associate, Strategic Initiatives

“I would love to highlight a grant Meyer made this year to support the Oregon Futures Lab Education Fund. OFL focuses on seeking, supporting and sustaining BIPOC community leaders and elected officials. I am particularly excited about one of their signature programs: Care for Disruptive Leaders. This program recognizes the unique challenges faced by BIPOC leaders in public political spaces — such as harassment, doxxing, and threats — along with all the systemic barriers in place to exclude them from running for office. Care for Disruptive Leaders provides time, space and resources to help tackle these issues, reducing burnout and lengthening the tenure of BIPOC folx leadership positions. We need a diverse, leaderful movement to face the multifaceted challenges of our time, build solidarity and power across communities and manifest OFL’s vision of a racially just Oregon. These leaders deserve safety and rest in addition to the logistical support, training and mentorship that OFL provides.”