On immigration and refugees: A louder voice together

During a January march at Portland International Airport, a woman holds aloft a banner saying "Refugees Welcome." Photo credit: John Rudoff

A few months ago, former Meyer CEO, Doug Stamm, wrote about how Meyer would become more deliberate in our use of advocacy to make a greater impact in Oregon.

Doug promised to collaborate with other foundations, just as we ask nonprofits to work together toward a common purpose. He recognized a simple fact that by working together we can have greater impact on issues that can lead to systems change that we could not do if we went about it alone; working together we are better and have a stronger voice for change  

Toward that goal, I’m pleased to share with you Meyer’s participation in a funders collaborative to address the impact of recent Federal policies on immigrant and refugee communities. These policies affect the admission and resettlement of refugees to Oregon, and focus on heightened immigration enforcement and broadened rules for compliance with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Immigrants and refugees make significant contributions to this state. According to an Oregon Center for Public Policy report out in April, undocumented Oregonians alone pay roughly $81 million in taxes to help fund schools and other public services that strengthen Oregon’s economy, through property taxes, personal income taxes, and sales and excise taxes.

The Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative, a partnership between The Collins Foundation, MRG Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and Meyer*, aims to highlight the importance of refugees and immigrants to our state and our joint commitment to address the need for their successful integration into our communities. Economic mobility and social inclusion for newcomers and their children builds communities that are stronger economically and more inclusive socially and culturally.

What the funders collaborative will consider

The collaborative will consider requests for projects providing:

  • Legal information/advice, services and representation for immigrants and refugees;

  • Outreach and education about policies, program services and preparedness;

  • Information collection, policy tracking and analysis;

  • Basic human needs for immigrants and refugees; or

  • Outreach and advocacy (civic engagement, community organizing).

How the funders collaborative will work

The funding collaborative anticipates making decisions on proposals within four weeks of requests, with payments issued a couple of weeks later; time sensitive critical response grants of up to $4,000 will have a 48-72 hour turn-around and payment within a week. Applicants are encouraged to ask for what they need, requests — over $50,000 — would be considered large for this fund and likely be shared by more than a single funder, if awarded.

Grant awards will cover current activities up to 12 months.

Here's the full Funders Collaborative Scope Process. And this downloadable common application can be accessed from each funder’s website. A common final grant report will be due at the end of the grant period.

*In late 2017, Pride Foundation joined the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative. Today applicants can contact any funder collaborative partner and will be forwarded to the following point person:

  • At The Collins Foundation Cynthia Addams, caddams [at] collinsfoundation.org
  • At MRG Foundation, Esther Kim, esther [at] mrgf.org
  • At Oregon Community Foundation, Roberto Franco, rfranco [at] oregoncf.org
  • Pride Foundation, Katie Carter, katie [at] pridefoundation.org
  • And at Meyer, to me, Sally Yee, sally [at] mmt.org