Last month, the Nez Perce Tribe secured a conservation easement for 9.22 acres of land along the Wallowa River, permanently protecting an area on the Tribe's ancestral homeland that is known as Waakak’amkt or “where the braided stream disappears into the water.” This accomplishment will also preserve the Wallowa River’s eastern channel and wetland areas from future development.
The Wallowa County Chieftain documents the historic purchase, made possible by grants from organizations such as The Collins Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation and others:
The easement is part of a growing presence of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) people in their Wallowa County homeland. That includes the preservation of the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage site, Nez Perce participation in management of the county’s 1,800-acre East Moraine property, the work of the Joseph-based Nez Perce Fisheries in restoring coho salmon, lamprey eels and eventually sockeye to the rivers here, the Homeland Project in Wallowa and the Precious Lands preserve (Hetes’wits Wetes) in the Joseph Canyon area.
'Our efforts will continue to interact with the land,” said Shannon Wheeler, Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee chairman. “That’s where our people are from. … When the Nez Perce people were leaving (in 1877), one of the elders asked people to turn around and look at the land because it might be the last time that they would see it. … So any chance that we get to come back, I see a lot of smiling faces when our people are there, and I think the land smiles when the Nez Perce are there.'
ICYMI: Why Meyer Memorial Trust's 'breakthrough' investing year mattersdarionThu, 11/19/2020 - 02:01
Cambridge Associates, a national firm that tracks the performance of endowments and foundations, recently reported that last year Meyer Memorial Trust’s Investments portfolio generated a return rate that exceeded 25 percent — well ahead of the national average of 17.1 percent and the 432 organizations tracked by the firm.
Portland Business Journal recently interviewed Meyer’s Chief Investment Officer Rukaiyah Adams about the breakthrough year of investing:
As Meyer Memorial Trust's portfolio matures, Adams' investment philosophy to drive civic and social change is coming into view. Broadly, Adams looks to invest in ways that drive more equitable economic growth, such as water desalination technology and broadband access.
‘Imagine if we lived in a world where there was broadband access available to everyone in an affordable way and ed-tech tools that allowed millions of children today that are not educated to reach a level of literacy and education,’ said Adams. ‘That would ignite a level of economic growth, innovation, and vitality that the world has never seen.’
ICYMI: Meyer Adopts Advanced Equity and Sustainability Approach in Construction of New Portland HQ
The 14-month project to build Meyer Memorial Trust's new headquarters is complete, thanks to a deep partnership with values-driven real estate developer, project^ and award‐winning design firm, LEVER Architecture.
The Skanner reported on Meyer's $10.8 million, 19,829 sq. ft., three-story office building and garden, located at 2045 North Vancouver Avenue in Historic Albina.
“Investing in a permanent space is a commitment as an Oregon-serving foundation, we wanted to deepen our connection to Historic Albina and use our new building as a resource to further support and invest in communities across the state,” said Michelle J. DePass, Meyer’s president and CEO.
“Typically, architecture in philanthropy is hierarchical, with the best spaces reserved for executives. But as a justice foundation that places a premium on equity, it was important to give every employee access to windows and natural light and to make the most desirable office space accessible to everyone.”
You can learn more about the building on our Meyer HQ page here.
And you can read the whole Skanner story, including photos, here.
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.
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.
ICYMI: Columbia River tribes gain new clout with major acquisitiondarionThu, 07/09/2020 - 11:27
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.
Opinion: ‘Last-in, first-out’ isn’t equitable for teachers of colorkwilsonSat, 05/30/2020 - 17:28
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.
ICYMI: Meyer Memorial Trust announces relief efforts for small businessdarionTue, 04/28/2020 - 10:58
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.
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.
ICYMI: The Purposeful AgitatorkwilsonThu, 04/02/2020 - 14:12
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.
ICYMI: Opinion: Get through today but remake tomorrowkwilsonThu, 04/02/2020 - 13:43
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.
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
ICYMI: Meyer Memorial Trust Breaks Ground on North Portland CampusdarionMon, 08/19/2019 - 16:06
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