ICYMI: Good Company

Last week the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Council on Foundations recognized Meyer Memorial Trust and a broad partnership working to address homelessness as a recipient of the 2020 Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships.

Meyer was honored alongside six other foundations: Sheller Family Foundation, The Homeless Assistance Fund Inc., Quicken Loans Community Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, Bernard Project (SBP Long-Term Home Rebuilding) and MUFG Union Bank Foundation.

The Secretary’s Award recognizes cross-sector partnerships that have been crucial to transforming communities and improving the quality of life for low- and moderate-income residents across the country. Benefits include increased economic development, health, safety, education, housing access, disaster resilience, inclusivity and access to cultural opportunities.

Meyer was recognized for its partnership with Worksystems, Inc. on the Economic Opportunity Program (EOP), a network linking employment and housing services for formerly homeless families in Portland, providing low-income residents community-based career coaching and support. Many trusted community-based organizations were critical to the effort.

The innovative EOP collaborative weaves together state, federal and local resources and demonstrates how to align and strengthen local providers while expanding services to food stamp recipients. Other partners included local employment program funders such as the Joint Office of Homeless Services (the local Continuum of Care agency) and Prosper Portland (the local economic development agency), state grant administrators (the Oregon Department of Human Services which administers the SNAP 50/50 reimbursement), federal partners within HUD (Portland Field Office) and USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

“We want to commend our award winners for their efforts to show the importance of government and philanthropy partnership,” said Secretary Ben Carson. “Today’s announcements of these awards honor the collaborative and unites us all together so that more Americans have the opportunity to be successful.”

“The recipients of this year’s Secretary's Award are stellar examples of the transformational power of strong public-philanthropic partnerships to improve the quality of life for generations of families,” said Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. "The foundations and corporate philanthropies honored today provide insights and ideas for how to effectively respond to our nation’s most pressing challenges.”

Since the Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships was established in 2012, winners in the Northwest and Alaska include the Rasmuson Foundation, Home Partnership Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Raikes Foundation and Seattle Foundation.

Housing has long been one of Meyer’s highest priorities because we recognize that all people need a home that is stable, safe and affordable. The Housing Opportunities portfolio’s core goals address housing development and preservation, housing support services and sector strengthening. We are proud to support a strong network of nonprofit partners across the state that are addressing the needs of Oregonians and advancing Meyer’s vision of a flourishing and equitable Oregon.

You can learn more about Worksystems and the Economic Opportunity Program here.

Read more about the recipients of the 2020 Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships here.

Fred G. Meyer, founder of Meyer Memorial Trust. Image source: hud.gov

Fred G. Meyer, founder of Meyer Memorial Trust. Image source: hud.gov

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ICYMI: Columbia River tribes gain new clout with major acquisition

On June 1, the Oregon Health & Science University transferred control of the Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction—an information hub that acquires data through radio telemetry and a network of observation stations and buoys for use in conducting coastal-margin science—to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, an organization that coordinates management policy and provides fisheries technical services for the Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce Tribes.

The Oregonian recently published an article about the historic acquisition:

For the fish commission, acquisition of the nationally renowned coastal center builds on a growing capacity for world-class research. The center collects and analyzes estuary data that informs everything from Columbia River Treaty negotiations to industrial dredging operations to salmon recovery strategies.

“This is a tremendous capacity-building advance for the Columbia River tribes,” says commission chairman Jeremy Red Star Wolf. “Our professional river and salmon management staffs have wanted more ocean and river connectivity in research, applied science and management. CMOP will help deliver that.

Meyer’s Healthy Environment portfolio awarded a $350,000 capacity-building grant to expand the commission’s ability to effectively acquire, manage and oversee the Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction program. You can read the full coverage of the story here.

ICYMI: Columbia River tribes gain new clout with major acquisition
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Opinion: ‘Last-in, first-out’ isn’t equitable for teachers of color

As the state of Oregon wrestles with hundreds of millions of expected budget cuts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Oregonian published an opinion piece by Toya Fick, Meyer's board chair and the executive director of Stand for Children on the importance of teachers of color -- and the need to prioritize maintaining representation across the ranks of teachers.

Toya called on Oregon to reconsider its seniority-based layoff system to preserve hard-won increases in teachers of color:

Prioritizing the hiring of teachers of color doesn’t just benefit students of color, for whom the value of representation is well documented. Having teachers of color is critical to white students as well, who benefit from seeing people of color in leadership roles and are able to build personal connections that break down the inherent biases we all carry.

In fact, in 2016, researchers published a study that found that students of all races looked more favorably on teachers of color versus white teachers. Those favorable perceptions can translate into better academic outcomes including interest, motivation and even grades. Better representation and diversity among teachers directly translates to student success. This is especially critical as Oregon strives to improve our graduation rates, which have historically been among the worst in the nation.

Now, amidst statewide reductions of $2.7 billion in the current biennium and $4.4 billion in the 2021-23 budget period, our path to racial equity is facing roadblocks. Oregon law requires schools to consider a seniority-based layoff system, commonly referred to as “last-in, first-out," which prioritizes keeping teachers with seniority on staff and laying off the newest hires. This policy directly conflicts with efforts in recent years to hire teachers of color and close the race gap that has long troubled Oregon schools.

You can read the entire piece here.

The importance of teachers of color in the classroom improves outcomes for both students of color as well as white students, the author writes. Motoya Nakamura /The Oregonian

The importance of teachers of color in the classroom improves outcomes for both students of color as well as white students, the author writes. Motoya Nakamura /The Oregonian

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ICYMI: Meyer Memorial Trust announces relief efforts for small business

As we continue to adapt to the changing landscape of business brought on by the novel coronavirus COVID-19, we want to reiterate to our partners that: We're with you for the long haul.

In March, Meyer Memorial Trust announced a decision to offer community lending partners 12-month forbearance on loan payments and extend the same terms on loans to borrowers in response to the pandemic.

Portland Business Journal wrote about Meyer’s response earlier this month:

Meyer Memorial is one of Oregon's largest foundations. Among other philanthropic activities, it loans money to nonprofits that use the cash to extend credit to small businesses.

This week, the foundation said Portland-based MESO and Springfield-based Community LendingWorks, two such partners, do not need to make any interest or principal payments for a year. In return, the foundation wants MESO and Community LendingWorks to extend the same terms to their borrowers.

Meyer will continue to reach out to our regional investment partners to better understand their needs. We will get through this together.

(P.S. You can read the entire PBJ piece here.)

Meyer Memorial Trust Chief Investment Officer Rukaiyah Adams. Photo credit: Portland Business Journal

Meyer Memorial Trust Chief Investment Officer Rukaiyah Adams. Photo credit: Portland Business Journal

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ICYMI: The Purposeful Agitator

Oregon Business magazine profiled Meyer's president and CEO, Michelle J. DePass, in a cover story in its April 2020 edition.

Writer S. Renee Mitchell tells the tale of Meyer's 3rd CEO:

A little less than two years ago, DePass brought her legacy as an unapologetic, social justice activist and agitator to her role as the third president and chief executive officer of Meyer Memorial Trust, one of the state’s oldest and largest charitable foundations.

She was hired over 140 applicants, after a six-month national search. And she is the first woman in that position, the first Black person, and the first to bring three decades of nonprofit, academic, environmental and government experience to the role.

You can read the entire piece here.

Michelle DePass took over the wheel at Meyer Memorial Trust in 2018, replacing longtime president and CEO Doug Stamm

Michelle DePass took over the wheel at Meyer Memorial Trust in 2018, replacing longtime president and CEO Doug Stamm.

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ICYMI: Opinion: Get through today but remake tomorrow

The Oregonian published an opinion piece by Meyer's president and CEO, Michelle J. DePass in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle highlighted the need to center equity in the response:

Make no mistake. This pandemic is hitting hard. And it will hit some of us much harder than others. As the public health crisis becomes an economic shock, the failures in our social safety nets have been laid bare, disproportionately affecting the poor, immigrant families and people of color. Lack of paid sick leave has meant that some employees have had to choose between coming in to work sick - possibly with COVID-19 - or staying at home without pay. Those who experience hunger and rely on social services now find those services overwhelmed. As the virus spreads through our unsanitary and overcrowded jails and prisons, imprisonment for even a misdemeanor offense may effectively result in a death sentence.

We are about to see a “pandemic inequality feedback loop” that will expose every bias we have embedded in our society. As a nation, we have always had deep cracks in our society that cause inequitable outcomes. Oregon is no different. Black children have among the lowest graduation rates from high school, women-run households are suffering under a wage gap that is compounded with each paycheck and undocumented Latinx workers are still exploited for their labor. Native American tribes wrestle with the enduring trauma of termination. We, as a state, have walked a direct line from our history of racial exclusion and intolerance to the racial and class cleavages that this virus is laying bare.

That’s today, but it doesn’t have to be tomorrow.

You can read the entire piece here.

Multnomah County employees set up a temporary shelter in the Oregon Convention Center on Friday, March 20, 2020. The shelter, which includes 130 beds, will be made available to people who are homeless and at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus. Dave Killen / StaffThe Oregonian

Multnomah County employees set up a temporary shelter in the Oregon Convention Center on Friday, March 20, 2020. The shelter, which includes 130 beds, will be made available to people who are homeless and at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus. Dave Killen / Staff, The Oregonian

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ICYMI: Meyer Memorial Trust Breaks Ground on North Portland Campus

On July 29, Meyer Memorial Trust staff, trustees and community partners celebrated the start of construction for the foundation's future home at 2045 North Vancouver Avenue.

The Portland Observer covered the groundbreaking ceremony about the 20,000-foot structure, just northeast of the Broadway Bridge, that will house office space for about 50 staff and feature a library, educational garden and convening space for all-hands meeting and collaborating with community partners:

“Establishing a permanent home in historic Albina is one way to show Meyer’s commitment to building partnerships and connections that help to make Oregon a flourishing and equitable state,” said Meyer president & CEO Michelle J. DePass."

Read the full story about Meyer’s new campus in historic Albina here.

From left to right, Meyer president and CEO Michelle J. DePass, trustee Janet Hamada, board chair Toya Fick, trustee Alice Cuprill-Comas and trustee Mitch Hornecker (not shown trustee Charles Wilhoite). (Photo by Fred Joe)

From left to right, Meyer president and CEO Michelle J. DePass, trustee Janet Hamada, board chair Toya Fick, trustee Alice Cuprill-Comas and trustee Mitch Hornecker (not shown trustee Charles Wilhoite). | Photo by Fred Joe

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ICYMI: Trail Blazers Honor Trail Blazers

In celebration of Black History Month, the Portland Trail Blazers honored six leaders in Oregon — including Linfield College president Dr. Miles Davis, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Oregon Health & Science University president Dr. Danny Jacobs, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson, Portland Police Bureau chief Danielle Outlaw and Meyer Memorial Trust president & CEO Michelle J. DePass — to recognize their groundbreaking leadership, each as the first African American to hold their executive-level position within their respective institutions.

Read the Skanner News’ reporting on the event that took place during the Feb. 5 🏀 basketball game between the #RipCity Trail Blazers and Miami Heat here.

A photo of Trail Blazer honorees, from left to right: Linfield College president Dr. Miles Davis, Meyer's president & CEO Michelle J. DePass, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland Police Bureau chief Danielle Outlaw, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson and Oregon Health & Science University president Dr. Danny Jacobs.

Honorees Linfield College president Dr. Miles Davis, Meyer CEO Michelle J. DePass, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland Police Bureau chief Danielle Outlaw, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson and OHSU president Dr. Danny Jacobs.

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ICYMI: “Disrupting the Legacy of Colonialism.” An Oregon Funder Partners With Tribes on the Environment

A partnership between Tribes of the Pacific Northwest and Meyer seeks to integrate and honor Native wisdom within the environmental movement.

Inside Philanthropy examines a recent batch of grants awarded through Meyer's Healthy Environment portfolio and the unique role its grantmaking plays in supporting Tribal communities:

"[We] are excited to learn more about how traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous communities and Western science can work together to support healthy natural systems and communities," portfolio director Jill Fuglister wrote in a blog at the end of 2018. She tells IP this integration "opens the door to addressing the disparate impacts of environmental problems that indigenous communities experience by creating space for indigenous leaders to bring their concerns, priorities and solutions to environmental protection efforts."

By turning to local Native American communities to help steer its environmental grantmaking practices, Meyer may create a rich example of how environmental and social movements can come together. We see more, but arguably not enough, environmental, social justice and human rights-focused groups acknowledging and exploring how their causes overlap. At the crux of this intersection is the fact that minority groups are often the most affected by environmental degradation and calamity, and the recognition that these same communities can be a source of experience-based, authentic responses to these problems.

Read the full article here.

Photo caption: A mist covers the canopy of a forest in front of Mount Hood in Oregon, atop an amber horizon during sunrise.

Photo caption: A mist covers the canopy of a forest in front of Mount Hood in Oregon, atop an amber horizon during sunrise.

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ICYMI: Chinook Nation buys an Oregon foothold

The Chinook Indian Nation recently bought about 10 acres of heavily forested land in Warrenton around Tansy Creek, one of many locations where Chinookan tribes — Clatsop, Cathlamet, Lower Chinook Wahkiakum and Willapa — were pushed off by European settlers. The plan: to purchase, protect and revitalize the Tribes’ historically important 1851 Tansy Point treaty grounds.

The Daily Astorian documents the purchase, made possible by grants from organizations such as the Oregon Community Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Collins Foundation and others:

“'The Clatsop folks covered this whole south shore of the Columbia, really, from around Astoria itself heading west, and then of course down the adjacent seashore all the way down to Tillamook Head, that country,” (Tony Johnson, chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation) said. “But all the main country people think about here in terms of Hammond, Gearhart, Seaside — that’s all Clatsop territory.'

The property near Tansy Point is near where, in the summer of 1851, members of all five Chinookan tribes gathered to negotiate with Anson Dart, the first superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Oregon Territory, to avoid relocation east of the Cascade Mountains. It is the only known instance when all tribal ancestors were gathered in one place, Johnson said."

Read the entire piece here.

A tract of land near the Warrenton Waterfront Trail was recently purchased by the Chinook Indian Nation.

A tract of land near the Warrenton Waterfront Trail was recently purchased by the Chinook Indian Nation.

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