At Meyer, we talk often about our accountability to communities. That commitment is shown most plainly in how we distribute our grantmaking dollars each year, especially to work that supports those who are furthest away from opportunity.
I am proud to report that our last fiscal year of grantmaking, we have continued to make good on our promises, with nearly $23 million dollars awarded to organizations advancing racial, social and economic justice in Oregon. (An additional $22 million was distributed through grant renewals and other prior commitments.) Overall:
81% of Meyer’s 283 grant awards were dedicated to BIPOC-led or serving organizations.
93% of Meyer’s total grantmaking dollars went to BIPOC-serving organizations.
As we celebrate Pride this month, I also want to share that $3.7 million or 16% of our total grantmaking dollars went to organizations led by or serving the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.
We are also completing our transition to a new grants management system this year, which will improve our ability to understand our community-specific awards data in increasingly nuanced ways.
General Operating, First Time Awardees
In addition to dollars we track for culturally specific areas of work, it’s important that we continue to evolve our grantmaking to better meet the needs of our grantees. Last fiscal year, 36% of our funding or $8.2 million was dedicated to general operating support so that organizations have the freedom and agency to do their best work. As we move forward, I anticipate that Meyer will continue to increase our funding for general operating support.
Meyer has also worked to catalyze new and innovative efforts with funding to 70 first-time awardees. Many of those were funded through the highly participatory, community-informed approach of our Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative. I expect to share more about how their work is impacting Oregonians in the months ahead.
Taking our Own Test
As part of our continuing work to align our internal and external commitment to equity, I recently took the time to assess Meyer on its own Diversity Equity and Inclusion Spectrum Tool. Created in 2019 by Meyer staff, the tool has been used by thousands of Meyer grantees and other organizations across the country to assess organizational progress on DEI-related policies and practices.
I was surprised and humbled to find that my own assessment of Meyer’s progress put us somewhere between “Launched” and “Well on the Way.”
I asked the staff to take the same assessment, hoping I had been unduly harsh. The result was essentially the same. As we have told other organizations many times, the path towards equity is not always a linear one and the expectation is progress, not perfection.
“Exemplary,” as the tool describes organizations who have fully integrated their internal and external DEI policies and practices, is still a goal for us.
In addition to continuing our efforts in this area, we are also working to develop additional ways to ensure we are applying an antiracist and feminist lens to our grantmaking. We are learning from colleagues in the philanthropic space to inform this effort and I have particularly appreciated the thought leadership provided by Justice Funders, specifically the Just Transitions Framework which inspires and aligns with so much of the change we want to see in regenerative philanthropic practice in Oregon.
As we continue to grow and evolve into the organization we dream of being, I am heartened and inspired to know that our staff, grantees, friends and partners will continue to hold us accountable. I am excited to be a part of our shared progress towards justice.