What Does Justice Require? At Meyer, a Multi-faceted Approach to Grantmaking

As you heard last month from Vice President of Impact, Kim Melton, Meyer has been working to build the strongest program strategy we can, incorporating a mix of community voice, staff expertise and research from those who are walking the same path as we are — towards justice. One outcome from our learning journey has been that we now have three issues-based portfolios; Our Empowered Youth, Our Collective Prosperity and Our Resilient Places.

But our understanding of how change happens in the world compels us to come at the work from different angles. In addition to investments in topical areas, we must also take approaches that expressly focus on the root causes of injustice and foster the conditions necessary for transformational change and healing.

Meyer’s strategic initiatives represent another layer to our overall funding strategy. We’ve grouped a number of our ongoing funding efforts in this area, including the Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative and the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative. Our developing work in the Together, We Rise and Our Shared Purpose focus areas also live under the strategic initiatives banner, along with our emerging funding framework to formalize support for tribal nations.

The funding in these areas is not entirely new, but I want to share more about how we view this work alongside and in addition to Meyer’s issues-based portfolios.

Justice demands redress and repair

If we are serious about racial justice in this country, then our work must include explicit strategies to lift up and support redress, repair and thriving for Black and Native communities.

The compounding impacts of genocidal violence, the theft of land and labor and other atrocities committed against African and Indigenous peoples continue to show up in disaggregated data for most life outcomes today.

This is why our Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative is focused exclusively on priorities identified by an advisory committee of Black community members. Also, respecting tribal sovereignty means that Native nations don’t need to “fit” into Meyer’s other topically focused strategies to access support that is, simply put, owed to them.

Our funding must also include explicit strategies to support integration, belonging and thriving for immigrant and refugee communities. That is why Meyer has been a leading member of the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative since its founding in 2016.

Oregon, and our nation, has always been and continues to be buoyed, sustained and enriched in myriad ways by the labor and countless other contributions of immigrants and refugees. This is despite being excluded from many opportunities and benefits and being alternately disregarded and vilified for political purposes.

Justice requires shifting power

Long-term power building for communities most impacted by injustice is also part and parcel of working for transformational change. That is why our Together, We Rise initiative will support leadership development, civic engagement, organizing, movement building and field infrastructure. The focus here isn’t on particular issues, but on the capacity for collective action of an interconnected progressive movement, led by impacted communities, to achieve and hold onto wins. There is an emphasis on healthy democracy in this initiative and intersectional work that cuts across issues. That’s evident in the work of grantees like Oregon Futures Lab, Basic Rights Oregon, Rural Organizing Project, Oregon Donor Alliance, and Intersect to name just a few.

Justice requires collaboration

Systems of oppression run on division and separation, so dismantling them will require many forms of coming together. This is true for neighbors, communities, movements and, yes, funders. That is why Meyer will look for opportunities to partner with philanthropic peers and cross-sector entities to work with Shared Purpose. We can each bring the best of our particular resources to bear so that the whole of our effort can be greater than the sum of our well-intentioned individual actions.

Those who follow our grantmaking closely will notice that the themes of Meyer’s initiatives — support for Black, Native and immigrant and refugee communities, long-term power-building, and partnerships and collaboration – show up across our portfolios as well. Of course! These are so key that we’re intentional about a multi-layered approach, combining dedicated and diffused support.

We are so excited to move forward with grantmaking in initiatives, which will be by invitation only this year. Next month, Director of Programs and Policy, Nancy Haque will share more about Meyer’s issue-focused portfolios, which will start taking applications in late summer.