March 13, 2017

Investing to foster a healthy environment for Oregonians

I am pleased to announce our 2017 annual funding opportunity. Through this opportunity, Meyer will invest approximately $3.3 million to advance our vision of nurturing a resilient natural environment, while supporting the well-being of Oregon’s diverse cultures and communities.

On March 15, the Healthy Environment portfolio begins accepting Inquiry Applications — with a deadline of 5 p.m. April 19 — that advance one of the following portfolio goals:

  1. Support efforts that mutually achieve community well-being, economic vitality and environmental stewardship.

  2. Ensure that environmental impacts and benefits are equitably distributed among communities.

  3. Support a movement for a healthy environment that is effective and relevant for all Oregon’s diverse communities.

  4. Ensure that natural systems are healthy and able to adapt to changing conditions and long-term impacts.

This is the second round of annual funding for our portfolio in Meyer’s new program structure. In December, we announced the first 47 grant awards out of a robust pool of 160 inquiry applications. These grants support a broad range of forward-thinking efforts for a healthy environment in rural and urban communities across Oregon. Projects include testing and scaling new strategies for protecting and restoring ecosystems while also supporting thriving communities. They also include efforts to give voice to more communities in shaping local and state-level decisions for clean air and water. Our aim with these awards is to bring diverse organizations together for change.

 

What’s different from round one?

For the current funding opportunity, we have provided more guidance about what makes a strong proposal and improved the process.

Last year, we rolled out a lot of changes all at once: brand-new portfolios with specific goals and outcomes and new funding guidelines; a newly overhauled application and data management system for collecting proposals; new staff at Meyer navigating a brand-new system for reviewing proposals and much, much more. That was a lot of new, and last year’s funding process was a bit of a roller coaster ride: thrilling, suspenseful and exhilarating, both for the Meyer team and for all the nonprofits that climbed aboard with us.

For 2017, we have made improvements. In the survey we conducted after the 2016 grant process closed, you asked us to “provide more clarity about the type of proposals that fit best” and to “simplify the application as much possible.” Using these comments as our guiding principles, we made some crucial refinements. Here are the highlights:

  1. Expecting measurable environmental impact. In the application we request that applicants identify the measurable environmental impact their proposal aims to deliver. Last year, many requests did not make this clear and thus were not successful in securing funding.

  2. Identifying what doesn’t fit. We recognize that preparing an inquiry application for Meyer requires a considerable investment of time and resources by an organization. We looked at which requests were most competitive last year and which  ones weren’t. We found that some types of projects consistently did not line up well with the outcomes we are working toward. This year we are providing a list of what doesn’t fit specific to this funding opportunity to help guide you.

  3. Clearer direction on what amount to request. This year, the request amounts for the different grant types are more consistent across all the portfolios. We’ve also provided more guidance on what amount to request by sharing the average size of 2016 grants. Last year, requests tended toward the high end of the funding ranges, but we can actually only fund a few of those.

  4. Operating support candidates are very specific. Operating support grants will continue to be focused on a limited set of organizations. In addition to the 2016 parameters, which remain the same, we also expect that organizations seeking operating support will demonstrate diversity, equity and inclusion leadership in the context of their community and specific field (e.g. freshwater conservation, marine conservation, climate change, etc.). Please contact us to discuss whether your organization is a good fit for operating support.

  5. Demographic data collection update. Of all the parts of the application that we tried to improve, this was probably the toughest. By its very nature, collecting demographic data is complex and fraught with challenges. To help you navigate some of these challenges, we have organized resources and tools into a new Applicant Resources  page to support your efforts. In the revised inquiry application, we request a modest number of summary demographic data points that are relevant to Meyer’s equity mission. We will not require applicants to submit the separate demographic data spreadsheet that we used last year.

  6. More on what we mean by equity. During last year’s funding opportunity process, we fielded many questions from potential applicants about diversity, equity and inclusion in rural Oregon. This year we are hosting two webinars with leaders of three rural-based organizations — Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center and Rogue Climate — to share their experiences with advancing equity in their work in rural Oregon. They will answer your questions about how to get started and where to go next. In addition, our new Applicant Resources page includes tools and resources to help you understand how we think about and assess diversity, equity and inclusion in the context of organizations’ internal operations and their mission and programs.

You’ll probably find evidence of other tidying and small tweaks to move us forward. And we look forward to further refinements after round two as we gain experience with the new portfolio and work more closely with you — all the great organizations working hard for a healthy environment in our state.  

 

Getting more info

If you’d like to discuss the 2017 Healthy Environment Annual Funding Opportunity and your proposal plans, please participate in one of the upcoming Info Sessions or contact us at questions [at] mmt.org. Make sure to also review Candy Solovjovs’ recent blog announcing the 2017 Funding Opportunity, which offers guidance and tips relevant to all the portfolios.

Our work together is now more important than ever. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your ideas and questions.

— Jill