Lifting Up DEI Capacity Building

It’s no secret that the lack of equity and diversity in Oregon’s environmental movement has been an issue for decades. So we weren’t surprised that many Healthy Environment portfolio applications focused on building organizational capacity for effective diversity, equity and inclusion work. After all, every journey starts where you are.

The Healthy Environment portfolio awarded seven grants to fund technical assistance focused solely on diversity, equity and inclusion. Common activities included training staff and board, developing an equity strategy and integrating diversity, equity and inclusion into an organizational strategic plan.

Several of these grantees are in the beginning stages of equity work — a crucial moment to build capacity. We look forward to continued support for this foundational work as a precursor to implementation. For organizations that are further along in their equity journeys, we are also supporting implementation of equity priorities, which is woven into many of the projects and organizations that we funded this round, although the descriptions of these grants on our awards database doesn’t label them as being for “equity implementation.” Examples of these efforts include creating a statewide environmental justice coalition, integrating equity into climate change policy and supporting economic development with tribes and rural, low-income communities.

Developing foundational elements for diversity, equity and inclusion work creates a stronger, inclusive, resilient and more successful environmental movement. We foresee continuing to support this work in future grant cycles. We also plan to continue funding the implementation of organizational and programmatic equity priorities. Something to consider if your organization is at the beginning stage of equity work and looking to partner with Meyer: we don’t recommend applying for both capacity building and implementation of DEI at the same time. It’s difficult to predict exactly what your implementation needs are before you complete planning and other foundational work.

Overall, I am extremely grateful to work at a foundation that is both walking the equity talk and lifting up grantees in their equity journey, especially by supporting organizations committed to equity and growth over time whether they are at the beginning or advanced stage of this work.   I look forward to working with Meyer’s current and future grantees in creating a flourishing and equitable Oregon.

— Marcelo