Partnering with Oregon communities to advance equity

While Meyer was busy this fall finalizing awards under our Fall 2017 Annual Funding Opportunity (193 grants totaling $22.7 million), we also had other important work in motion.

$1.6 million in grant awards

Our hearts have been with communities throughout the state following a summer of devastating forest fires. As one way of offering our support, we provided Crag Law Center with a $32,000 grant to engage the public and environmental organizations in recovery efforts related to the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge. We recognized the time sensitive importance of ensuring an inclusive and well-informed recovery planning process. This work directly advances the priorities of our Healthy Environment portfolio.

Through the Willamette River Initiative’s Basin-wide Impact Fund, we funded 14 grants totalling $996,044 million, which will support work to address systemic Willamette Basin issues. Interesting and impactful work is being supported that will have benefits throughout the basin. Another nine grants, totalling about $239,158, supported participation in diversity, equity and inclusion training. You can find a list of awards and read more about these projects in my colleague Kelly House’s blog here.

We are continuing to fund organizations to address crucial and time-sensitive issues facing immigrants and refugees in Oregon. Through our partnership with MRG Foundation, Collins Foundation and Oregon Community Foundation in the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative, Meyer contributed $113,000 toward proposals coming through the collaborative:

  • $23,000 to CAPACES Leadership Institute to increase the capacity of participants in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to organize their networks to advocate for permanent and just immigration policy solutions.

  • $50,000 to Immigration Counseling Service of Oregon to support a collaboration among Immigration Counseling Service, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees and Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services to assist immigrant communities with removal defense information and legal representation.

  • $20,000 to Muslim Educational Trust to respond to the current and imminent bias threats by engaging Oregonians to help build informed, united, resilient communities that can challenge racism and bigotry.

  • $20,000 to Voz Workers' Rights Education Project to support this Portland-based social service organization's direct actions in protest of immigration enforcement incidents.

Among other fall grants were several awards for technical assistance support, including $55,300 to Greater Oregon Behavioral Health to develop and assist in adoption of model codes for accessory dwelling units and tiny home villages for rural Oregon jurisdictions that lack such codes and $40,000 to Innovative Changes for planning, implementation and communication of an organizational merger. Grants will also support grantees’ diversity, equity and inclusion work, such as a $10,000 technical assistance grant to Homeplate Youth Services to advance internal equity and program evaluation to better serve youths experiencing homelessness in Washington County.

You can learn about all of our fall awards, within the 2017 Annual Funding Opportunity and in our batch of 36 October 2017 awards.

Beyond Grantmaking

As we redesigned Meyer programs, we were clear that we wanted to offer value to our partners beyond the grants we make. As we continue to build out what this looks like, we have hosted a series of convenings and events over the past few months to engage with grantees from across the state through learning collaboratives and grantee cohorts. Here are a few examples of how this is unfolding:

  • Organizations funded through last year’s leadership development RFP gathered with us in Woodburn in early October where we discussed Oregon’s nonprofit racial leadership gap, among other timely topics. This was our second multi-day learning collaborative meeting.

  • I was honored to join a convening of capacity builder grantees in October in Hood River for their second gathering centered on building their own and other nonprofits’ capacity to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Organizations receiving housing advocacy grants through Meyer’s Affordable Housing Initiative came together with Oregon funders to share their experiences, successes and challenges in important areas of housing policy. Not only did this convening offer an opportunity to learn together and support each other, it also offered funders a view into opportunities to step into funding housing advocacy.

  • Nonprofit housing providers came together in our annual convenings to share data and learnings about trends, needs and solutions for sustaining affordable housing portfolios.

  • In June, a group of Willamette River Initiative model watershed grantees and funders came together in Eugene with our partners at the Nonprofit Finance Fund to explore the intersection of mission, money and organizational health.

  • Meyer provided three grantee workshops (in Portland and Eugene) about the power of social media in advancing nonprofits’ missions, communications and fundraising.

We greatly value these opportunities to build relationships with and among nonprofits and to learn together as we seek to increase our collective impact for a brighter Oregon future. We learn so much from each other to help us do our work better and to work better together. We look forward to continuing to create spaces to build and deepen our connections.