An Annual Funding Opportunity unlike any otherdarionWed, 11/18/2020 - 22:51
Two weeks after the election, November continues to provide fresh reminders that 2020 has been anything but business as usual.
Meyer Memorial Trust’s Annual Funding Opportunity opened in mid-March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic started radically changing daily life. At the time, there was a question of whether we should even go forward with our usual grantmaking, but the moment called for more immediate action and support in the midst of COVID-19 and the need to be responsive felt paramount. We received 320 applications, requesting $45 million in funding. Our 2020 Annual Funding Opportunity grant awards total $21.3 million, funding 150 projects at organizations working to make Oregon a flourishing and equitable home for all.
As nonprofits adapted to rapidly changing conditions of the pandemic, we knew Meyer had to come alongside with the flexibility that the field has been asking for and to move further toward principles of trust-based philanthropy. We prioritized making more general operating grants and experimented with accepting proposals written for other foundations. We removed report requirements for existing grants and began rethinking our reporting requirements and how to maximize learning without burdening grantees. We also moved faster this year, finalizing a robust round of grants in the spring and another in the fall.
Responsiveness is perhaps what 2020 has required of everyone most of all, as well as living our values while finding different ways of being and working to address significant interwoven challenges. Whether it’s the global pandemic, the nationwide reckoning with racial injustice or the worst wildfires in Oregon history, communities are navigating tremendous change and we are responding with additional support by tapping into our endowment.
But even in times of great uncertainty, there are things we know for sure:
Grass-roots and nonprofit organizations are integral to community resilience.
Eliminating long-standing inequities will require shifting underlying conditions that hold them in place.
Centering the communities that are most impacted by a problem—almost always Black, Indigenous and People of Color—generates the best solutions for everyone.
A healthy democracy will always be essential to actualizing a flourishing and equitable state for all Oregonians.
Grants across our Annual Funding Opportunity reflect the latest iterations of this work and we are proud to support community efforts that, taken together, help to show the way forward.
Below we highlight some themes among the 2020 AFO grants and provide examples of opportunities for change and progress in this time of challenge. You can also view the full list of awards sorted by portfolio here.
In the weeks following Feb. 28 and confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Oregon, all sectors generally had to pivot their operations to meet public health demands and respond to a new set of emerging and urgent needs. Even nonprofits that typically focus at a systemic level to create change were drawn into providing services directly to their constituents.
All 26 Oregon Habitat for Humanity affiliates experienced a significant disruption of programs and operations due to the coronavirus. To ensure adequate social distancing, home construction projects shifted to a paid-staff/subcontractor model instead of the volunteer workforce that has bolstered the Habitat community for decades. This change significantly increased the cost of 50 homes already underway. Habitat for Humanity of Oregon responded quickly by putting together a rapid response program that would pair a zero percent interest loan with a grant to close the gap on these homes that are already in construction and move 50 families into stable housing.
Familias en Accion was founded in response to the need for a culturally specific organization to promote health for the Latinx community in Oregon. Prior to COVID-19 Familias was serving nearly 600 Latinx clients and family members annually through its Community Health Worker program, which helps clients navigate complex health systems, removes barriers to care and provides chronic disease self-management education through long-term engagement. In Oregon, the Latinx community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and monthly caseloads for Familias are closer to what they would have averaged in a year. Throughout the pandemic, the program has continued to provide clients critical information and referral services, access to client service funds and timely systems navigation.
Our democracy is not inherently just and requires ongoing collective attention. Groups received grants to advance civic engagement and create a more inclusive democracy. This includes a range of issues from Oregon’s pending legislative redistricting to voting rights and ensuring that appropriate implementation of recently passed policies such as the medical and family leave act.
More Equitable Democracy (MED) received a grant this year to advance racial equity through electoral systems reform. Fiscally sponsored by the Proteus Fund, MED is advancing Oregon’s voting rights protections by making it easier to challenge local electoral systems that present barriers for equitable representation.
Next Up (formerly Oregon Progress Forum) received a grant to serve as a political home for young people and a pipeline for civic engagement and power-building in Oregon. In the coming year, Next Up will continue to center Black, Indigenous and leaders of color in its service of equity-centered policy. This will primarily take shape in the form of leadership development, voter engagement and policy advocacy work aimed at making Oregon a place where policymakers are more accountable to younger generations.
Cascading disruptions set in motion by COVID-19 highlight the stark racial disparities in health, housing, education, environment access and economic stability in Oregon. As public officials work to address some aspects of the crisis, state and local governments are bracing for a shortage of revenue, a steep increase in people needing assistance of all kinds and competing leadership priorities at the federal level. In this environment, the need for organized advocacy by and in coordination with people directly affected by the multiple crises has never been more clear, as is the ability to define clear and compelling policy alternatives that center the needs of the communities that are most impacted by an issue or problem.
JOIN is helping inform public decision-making around the response to Oregon’s housing crisis, by elevating and amplifying the voices of the people who are most impacted. In essence, the priorities of these communities will help shape county, city and statewide responses to emerging housing issues, while also educating decision-makers about housing interventions that are known to be effective and equitable.
Unete, Beyond Toxics and PCUN are collaborating to elevate the voices of Latinx, Indigenous and migrant workers in the timber sector to help improve state forest practices and workplace safety rules. Immigrant forestry workers are typically hired to do the highly dangerous work of planting tree seedlings, spraying pesticides, setting chokers and helping get logs up steep slopes. These workers are the ones who often bear the brunt of pesticide exposure, higher temperatures and smoke inhalation on the job. The stories and experiences of migrant workers are missing from narratives about who makes up Oregon’s timber industry workforce.
Societies are complex. Many needs are not rigidly bound to individual topics and therefore must be addressed with an intersectional and multi-issue approach to achieve change. In support of this work, a number of groups received grants to support multi-issue organizing and advocacy efforts. Grantees addressed a range of issues such as challenging the normalization of the mass incarceration and deportation of non-citizens, building social infrastructure in rural communities for equity, supporting inclusion and participatory democracy and advocating for and securing millions in public dollars to support workers not eligible for unemployment insurance or other emergency federal relief tied to COVID-19.
Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) received a grant to advance more equitable public policies through research and analysis and communication of findings. Working with a diverse set of coalitions and partnerships, OCPP work focuses on the well-being of Oregonians with the fewest economic resources and those who face the biggest barriers to success.
Hacienda CDC, Native American Youth and Family Center, Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East and Verde are partners in the Living Cully Collaborative, which works to address disparities in housing, income, health, education and natural resources in Portland's Cully neighborhood. Living Cully received a two-year grant to increase community-controlled assets, environmental investments and affordable housing, while preventing displacement of frontline communities.
The overlapping crises of 2020 have laid bare our economic system’s injustices for all to see. We have seen a growing appreciation by the public for the contributions and sacrifices that essential workers—farmworkers, service workers, health aides, hospital staff and so many more—are making for all us. The story of the unjust working conditions of essential workers— low wages, lack of health care and unhealthy workplace conditions—has also garnered new attention. A number of grants in this year are supporting work across Oregon to advance economic justice solutions that can set the stage for and deliver on the potential of a transformative economic recovery in the future.
Oregon Just Transition Alliance (OJTA) is a collaborative that aims to build frontline community power through grass-roots organizing around a “just transition,” a focus on building economic and political power to shift from a fossil-fuel based economy to a regenerative economy based on renewable energy. Embedded in this are economic justice goals for income equality by gender and race, good-paying jobs and allowing all people to reach their full potential. OJTA received a grant to organize communities around collective action on climate justice at a state level.
The Northwest Workers Justice Project supports the efforts of Oregon's most vulnerable workers to protect workplace dignity and to improve wages and working conditions by providing legal representation for individual workers as well as groups of workers, recovering stolen wages and addressing other employment issues including workplace abuse and safety.
Meyer’s flexible funding is well-positioned to support innovative practices such as pilot projects or applying familiar tools to new situations. We also look for opportunities in which our investments can support innovation and ways to evaluate its impact in a way that can bring lessons and learning to the field and advance equity in Oregon.
Attempts to address the multiple crises at hand has caused school districts to exceed their capacity and ability to respond. In this historic moment, the urgency of student needs cannot be overstated. Youth-serving organizations across Oregon have reaffirmed their commitment to developing innovative solutions that are designed to eliminate disparities in public education through direct response to student needs. Grantee partners such as Latino Community Association, Family Access Network and Kids Unlimited of Oregon are rapidly executing plans to address the current crisis while also keeping an eye toward long-term recovery efforts.
The environmental, economic and social justice problems of our global, industrial food systems are far-reaching. Pandemic-induced food shortages, such as what we recently experienced, are evidence that the global food supply chain is prone to falter in the face of shocks. Three partners of the PCUN’s Alianza Poder network, Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, High Desert Food & Farm Alliance and Warm Springs Community Action are building innovative local regenerative agriculture and sustainable food programs that also integrate cultural practices unique to Black, Indigenous and Tribal communities. As these efforts take root and scale up, they can become a driver for economic development, cultural revitalization and improving community and natural system health.
Meyer's 2020 Annual Funding Opportunity Grant Awards
The wildfires that continue to grip Oregon, burning nearly 1 million acres, have taken lives, devastated communities and compounded the stresses of multiple, ongoing disasters.
Meyer Memorial Trust mourns with Oregonians grieving the loss of life, homes and businesses, those evacuated and those struggling to breathe. We grieve the destruction of forests, wildlife and natural habitats. We appreciate the strong response by Oregonians and people from across the country that have stepped up already to provide immediate relief.
To support those most impacted by the wildfires, Meyer’s board of trustees last week approved $250,000 in new grants for communities wrestling with immediate needs, focusing on relief funds that reach the most impacted communities and people within those communities that have the least access to aid. The emergency wildfire relief fund grants are directed at bridging investment in six local United Way organizations working directly on relief, as well as relief efforts targeting priority populations hit hard by the fires and their aftermath. These grants include:
$60,000 to MRG Foundation for the Since Time Immemorial Fund, an effort to rapidly deploy resources to Tribal communities across the region when opportunity or need arises
$25,000 to CAUSA or Oregon for immediate relief support for Latinx and immigrant communities facing hardship from wildfires
$25,000 to MRG Foundation for the Rogue Valley Relief Fund, a crucial relief effort supporting people most impacted by wildfires in the Rogue Valley region
$25,000 to the United Way of Columbia-Willamette for relief support for communities facing hardship from wildfires in Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties
$25,000 to Willamette Valley Law Project for PCUN's Farmworker Emergency Fund, which provides relief support for farmworkers facing hardship from wildfires
$15,000 to Greater Douglas United Way for relief support for Douglas County communities facing hardship from wildfires
$15,000 to United Way of Southwestern Oregon for relief support for communities facing hardship from wildfires in Coos and Curry counties
$15,000 to United Way of Jackson County for relief support for Jackson County communities facing hardship from wildfires
$15,000 to United Way of Lane County for relief support for Lane County communities facing hardship from wildfires
$15,000 to United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley for relief support for communities facing hardship from wildfires in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties
$15,000 to the Wildfire Relief Fund of the United Way of Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties
Earlier last week, Meyer joined with Oregon Community Foundation and the Ford Family Foundation to create the Community Rebuilding Fund, a commitment to gather resources and plan for what comes next after the extraordinary devastation brought by wildfires across a state already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and consequences of racial injustice.
Meyer is grateful to be a partner in immediate and long-term recovery efforts to restore economic vitality and livability to communities, by focusing on those who face the biggest barriers to recovery. At Meyer, we believe that a core part of our mission for a flourishing and equitable Oregon calls us to join with other Oregonians in moments of severe crisis to support the resiliency of communities facing hardships. And we understand that underlying injustices caused by systemic racism and economic inequality intersect in a moment crisis, exacerbating historic disparities with new risk, trauma and harm.
For Meyer, the wildfires are a reminder that equity be a guiding star as the state looks to make sure vulnerable populations aren’t left behind when it comes to the immediate response, planning, rebuilding and recovery, specifically Black, Indigenous and people of color, immigrants and refugees, seniors and low-income Oregonians, groups that are more likely to be renters or unhoused.
We see an opportunity to design a recovery for Oregon that centers addressing structural racism and the need to confront climate change. The potential for a recovery that builds a regenerative and just economy that scales up many of the innovative practices and policies already happening in rural and urban communities across the state. An opportunity to link this recovery with the work Meyer is already supporting in communities across the state to decarbonize our economy and create high-wage jobs and job training to build clean energy infrastructure and restore our ecosystems. A clarion call to invest in work to help communities adapt and address root causes of the destructive and frequent wildfires that we are now experiencing as a result of climate change.
While these more intense and frequent wildfires are a symptom of the climate crisis, they are also the result of decades of fire suppression and forest management that have disrupted the natural fire regime of our forests by removing large trees. That is why Meyer supports efforts to change how Oregon manages and stewards forests and other wildlands, including Indigenous fire management, to improve forest structure, restore natural systems and support a fire regime that can be managed more predictably. Predictability would help us better address smoke and economic impacts on communities.
Finally, these wildfires have created and worsened a public health emergency in the middle of a global public health emergency. Shifting smoke and air quality indicators have solidified for Oregonians the connection between pollution, health and housing; and far too many of our neighbors experience terrible air quality in their homes or lack shelter even without wildfires.
At Meyer, we believe that a core part of our mission for a flourishing and equitable Oregon calls us to join with other Oregonians in moments of severe crisis to support the resiliency of communities facing hardships. And we understand that underlying injustices caused by systemic racism and economic inequality intersect in this moment of crisis, exacerbating historic disparities with new risk, trauma and harm.
Change is possible now: Justice Oregon for Black LivesdarionMon, 07/13/2020 - 22:41
Three months before the heartbreaking footage of George Floyd’s murder ignited an inspiring wave of protests across the country, I had the privilege of leading a conversation at Meyer Memorial Trust with Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. She was clear: If philanthropy wants to see real change, we must be bold in aligning our actions with our values.
“Change is happening with or without you,” she said. “You get to decide if you are agents of that change or passively receiving it.”
I have worked and stayed in philanthropy because I believe that it is possible for philanthropy to show up differently and to push toward the alignment of actions and values that are rooted in racial justice. Now feels like a historic moment when the momentum has built thanks to the work of so many. Change that we’ve been pushing for feels possible.
I’ve been angry with the emergence of every hashtag documenting a life taken and don’t want to be part of talk without action. As we began dreaming about Justice Oregon, centering Black leadership, nonprofits and communities, I felt the first glimmer of hope that pushed through the rage that had been my constant companion for so long. As it started to emerge as a five-year initiative instead of a short-term infusion of dollars, a feeling of possibility replaced despair.
Today we are heeding the call to action with $25 million in new funding to launch Justice Oregon for Black Lives, the largest commitment Meyer has ever made.
The initiative will be a long-term effort, co-created with Black communities to understand how we can show up as the best possible partners in the work to advance racial justice and equity in Oregon. We are beginning by redoubling our commitment to several Black organizations in Portland with whom we are well aligned and have long-standing relationships. We know organizations working on these issues need money right now, and we have awarded five initial Justice Oregon grants, totalling $1 million. We wanted to honor and dignify the work that has been done without needing to work through an onerous process. These organizations are historically under-resourced, and we are awarding general operating grants so that the organizations can decide for themselves the best way to meet this moment’s potential.
We will move another $290,000 to organizations mobilizing in the Metro region to increase public safety and curtail police violence. Some of these organizations are new to Meyer, but their ambitions align with our own, and we want to build lasting relations as we make Oregon a state that not only has anti-racism ideals but lives up to them. There are leaders who have brilliant ideas of how to make the most of this moment to make significant progress on an issue that has long impacted Black people living in Oregon. We wanted to send a strong signal that we support these efforts and want them to have resources and support for their work now.
To make these investments, we tapped our endowment. This is a rare decision. But it is one that meets this moment. It is more important to contribute to the movement than to be afraid or cautious, to hide behind policies and procedures to keep from taking action. We need to take risks to ensure we are able to manifest the potential of this moment. We are moving resources out of the protection of the endowment to invest in the leadership that will allow us to build a more just future. This decision gives us latitude to invest in emerging leadership and space to build new relationships. A soon-to-be-hired program director will oversee this additional line of work, which will be done in close collaboration with Black communities in Oregon. Our hopes are that we can build new relationships with individuals and organizations, think creatively and holistically about how to be in partnership, and be transformational and impactful with our grants.
This decision is only made possible because of the relationships we have with Black communities, individuals and institutions, which offer us wisdom and direction. We also can tap the lessons learned from our work on equity that the foundation committed to in 2016. And, last, we are guided by Black feminist leadership that believes agitation builds momentum.
We know trust is one of the greatest resources to offer other leaders doing the hard work to achieve justice.
We need to move at the speed of trust and balance the desire to respond to the urgency of the moment with the intentionality of setting a strong foundation for the work ahead. We are excited to share the first round of grantmaking and ask for your guidance and support as we co-create what comes next.
We expect that centering Blackness will enhance the importance of all the other aspects of our equity work. As the pandemic has shown so clearly, Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities are disproportionately impacted when crisis hits, and our commitment to Black communities signals a strengthening of our commitment to all communities of color in Oregon. We stand with our Native, Latinx and Asian-American communities, believing that we can manifest meaningful change for Oregon to create a sense of belonging for all who call it home. This is especially powerful because this state originally was created to exclude so many of us. We believe that by centering those most impacted, we will build a stronger system that works for all.
All lives cannot matter if Black lives do not matter. This is the moment for us to center and focus and be active in the creation of a shared liberation.
Photo caption: Two siblings—one holding a sparkler and the other a sign that reads “Black Lives Matter”—stand in solidarity at a violin vigil in Portland for Elijah McClain. Photo credit: Fred Joe Photo
Locally, nationally and around the world communities are demanding policing and prison reforms. Simply put: Our current justice systems are not working to provide community safety.
As we at Meyer begin to look toward the future of what is needed for community safety and justice for all, we know that we cannot forget about the individuals and families that have been harmed by incarceration or jail. The long-term negative impacts of trauma, family and community separation, extended periods of supervision and regulatory conditions, community stigma, limited income, and reduced housing options increase the chances of recidivism and reincarceration. Poverty coupled with historical and institutional discrimination have led to the over incarceration of Black and Brown communities, and mass incarceration and policies that were designed to be tough on crime have perpetuated cycles of poverty and incarceration that continue to leave devastating effects on our communities.
Philanthropy must rise to its responsibility and disrupt this system of injustice.
In Oregon, tens of thousands of people have criminal records and the Oregon Health Authority estimates that about 26,000 people are released from jails and 5,500 people from federal and state prisons back into the community every year. Data show that people of color are more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system and people who have experienced incarceration or jail are more likely to experience higher rates of poverty, homelessness, addiction and mental health needs. There is growing recognition that successful reintegration into society for individuals involved in the criminal justice system benefits those individuals, their families and the broader community. Research from Prison Policy Initiative shows that housing can be a powerful pathway for individuals involved in the criminal justice system to transition out of the cycle of incarceration and back into the community or workforce and reduces the likelihood of an individual returning to jail or prison.
Supporting people who have been justice-involved to secure housing is one of the many ways that philanthropy can disrupt the cycle of incarceration and poverty.
In pursuit of Meyer’s vision of a flourishing and equitable Oregon, the Housing Opportunities portfolio released a Request for Proposals (RFP) on June 22 inviting applications from nonprofits, government agencies and organizations with existing re-entry programs.
The focus of the RFP is to fund interventions and supports that address housing stability gaps for people returning from state and federal prisons, local jails and juvenile facilities and those with past justice involvement and their families. This RFP will especially focus on funding work that addresses gaps in renter access due to past and present discriminatory systems and practices and efforts that advance marginalized populations in building a better life for themselves on a foundation of stable housing.
This funding opportunity will increase access to and retention of private market units for individuals living on low incomes who are also justice-involved by supporting effective strategies that engage private market landlords and management companies as partners in addressing affordable housing needs across Oregon communities.
During the video conference, we will provide participants with an informative overview of the new funding opportunity, offer ideas about what successful applications might look like for housing-focused organizations and much more.
Meyer Memorial Trust invites proposals that will increase access to quality private market housing units for individuals living on low-incomes who are also justice-involved. Up to $150,000, over two years, in new funding is available.
Applicants will be notified of their award status in late November, with funding available in early to mid-December.
Grant funds can be used for a variety of purposes to support the proposed project’s goals, including the following examples:
Project management or consulting services dedicated to furthering the project.
Hiring staff to support the project.
Approaches and strategies that will reduce screening barriers for individuals living on low-incomes who are also justice-involved such as reasonable accommodations or appeals, utility debt relief, rental applications, etc.
Evaluation and assessment.
Development of educational material, toolkits, manual of project.
Other uses as approved by Meyer.
Meyer staff will present an overview of the RFP and answer questions during two online information sessions on Friday, June 26, at 11am PST and Wednesday, July 8, at 11am PST. To attend, please visit the event registration page to receive details for joining the session. Attendance is encouraged but not mandatory.
Meyer Memorial Trust today announced an initial commitment of $1.3 million to fund nonprofit organizations across Oregon as the state grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.
Two grants will fund two efforts put in place in mid-March, after Gov. Kate Brown banned public gatherings of more than 25 people to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Meyer granted $330,000 to MRG Foundation's Community Response Fund, which is rapidly deploying resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon.
Meyer also made a $1 million grant to fund the Oregon Community Recovery Grant program at Oregon Community Foundation, which is working to provide funds to nonprofit organizations in Oregon that are particularly affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.
“These funds support immediate response efforts to prevent spread of the virus, recovery from the effects of the public health crises and the long-term resilience of nonprofits across Oregon," said Michelle J. DePass, president and CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust. “We are committed to the goal of mobilizing funds with urgency as we begin to better understand the longer-term needs of our communities.”
Meyer opened its 2020 Annual Funding Opportunity on March 16. The 2020 funding call through Meyer's Building Community, Equitable Education, Healthy Environment and Housing Opportunities portfolios aims to support efforts to build inclusive and diverse communities, break down inequities through local and statewide policy, foster systems change and support pathways for people most impacted by decisions to sit at the tables where those decisions are made.
While the annual grantmaking window formally ends April 13, Meyer recognizes that the coronavirus may hinder some organization’s ability to meet the deadline. Those needing flexibility are asked to contact questions [at] mmt.org before April 8.
We open our Annual Funding Opportunity today in a moment of great uncertainty: Oregon is under a state of emergency, schools across the state are closed, offices, including Meyer, are shuttered while staff work remotely, store shelves are empty and all of us are asked to distance ourselves from one another.
Amidst the unsteady conditions caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Meyer is thinking of our grantee partners. We recognize that our nonprofit partners and the communities they serve — particularly the most vulnerable populations — are being impacted in numerous ways. Our approach will be guided, in part, by both the changing landscape and the insights of our partners.
We are moving quickly to identify ways to respond with support that complements government action and field leadership. We are currently in conversation with other Meyer trustees and staff as well as other philanthropic partners to create responses so the important work of the social sector can move carry on in the face of this crisis. We will sharethose as they become clearer. Please stay tuned.
In the meantime, we want to provide some stability and opportunity to access support for your work and be clear about what we know for now. Here are the current specifics related to the Annual Funding Opportunity:
AFO applications may be submitted starting today and through April 13.
Our funding priorities, process and timeline remain the same as last year.* We will continue to use our one-step application and staff will reach out to applicants as part of the review process.
Meyer staff will work from home through March 31st and Program staff will be available to discuss grant application ideas by contacting questions [at] mmt.org. You can also contact grantops [at] mmt.org for questions about our online application system, GrantIS.
In order to provide equitable access to our process, we have created video tutorials for each of the four portfolio areas here. If you aren’t sure which portfolio your organization fits in, you might find the 2020 AFO Overview video tutorial is a better place to start, linked here.
Our applicant resources page is another area where you can find answers to your grantmaking questions. While Meyer staff are working remotely, general inquiries can also be left on our voicemail at 503-228-5512, which we are monitoring.
For current grantees, we would also like to share that:
We recognize this developing situation may affect your ability to carry out work that you have planned as part of our funding. As always, we want to offer you flexibility. If your operations are impacted as you respond to the coronavirus pandemic, please contact your Meyer grant contact to discuss how to best proceed.
While we are working remotely, we have plans in place to ensure our ability to make grant payments with minimal disruption.
As we make any possible adjustments, we will remain true to our stated values around equity, our priority populations and our portfolio areas.
* Unlike last year, the Building Community portfolio will be accepting proposals from the field — and with a particular emphasis on systems change. Applicants will be able to apply under two different goal areas, including Civic Engagement and Community Connection and Belonging. These goal areas are similar to those that have been put forth over the past few years. We’re asking applicants to demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, accountability to communities served and experience implementing strategies designed specifically to address the priorities of people of color, Indigenous communities, or immigrants or refugees.
It is times like this that reinforce the importance of your work for a flourishing and equitable Oregon. Thank you for all that you do. We are with you as our communities confront the challenges that lie ahead. And we will keep you apprised as we move forward together.
Meyer’s grantmaking shifted this year to be more responsive and timely and we were pleased to learn that grantees appreciated this shift. Grants for work aligned with the school year were made in the summer and in the fall we made the rest of our Annual Funding Opportunity grants, a total of 142 grants, totaling $17.5 million. I was incredibly impressed by the work and commitment happening across the state of Oregon from rural to urban settings. You can take a look at the full AFO awards list broken down by portfolio and goal.
Here are the highlights of each portfolio.
The Equitable Education portfolio received 98 applications requesting $13.5 million in funding, with 40 grants totaling $5.7 million eventually awarded. Similar to previous years, this year’s grant recipients include a balanced mix of urban and rural organizations reaching nearly every corner of Oregon. The Equitable Education portfolio’s continued commitment to equity requires us to remain distinctly focused on projects and programs that meet priority student needs, above all. Without these targeted investments, disparities grow, resulting in even greater inequities in the very classrooms where we are trying to eliminate them.
This year, organizations of all types affirmed their commitment to develop solutions designed to eliminate disparities in public education through policy and systems change and direct response to student needs. Among the Equitable Education grantees in the 2019 Annual Funding Opportunity, a few key themes emerged.
Oregon school districts are developing targeted strategies to advance education equity. Tigard-Tualatin School District, for example, will create a wraparound reengagement program for priority students experiencing school disconnection while Southern Oregon Education Service District will address disparities in hiring and retaining staff of color through improvements in their human resource systems.
Other grantees will bring their experience to statewide systems and policy change. Stand for Children and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators both recognize that for education equity to take hold in Oregon, our state’s leadership, priorities and policies must better reflect the needs and rich diversity of Oregonians.
Acknowledging the need to balance long-term system and policy impact with the urgency to address and improve achievement and college and career readiness for students, groups such as Together We Are Greater Than, College Dreams and Oregon Campus Compact will focus their efforts on key transitional moments to boost student readiness and/or achievement.
The 43 Healthy Environment portfolio grants, totaling $4.8 million, support critical work in rural and urban communities across the state to shift how we work with each other and how we interact with the planet in ways that are grounded in values of justice, ecological sustainability and cooperation. These investments will strengthen front-line and community-based leadership to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face in Oregon: reducing greenhouse gases, shifting how we manage our precious water resources and redesigning land management practices to be adaptive to escalating wildfire risks, smoke and a changing climate, while also maximizing co-benefits for communities that experience disparities.
These are just a few examples of the work we are supporting that will contribute to environmental justice, healthy natural systems, an inclusive environmental movement and community well-being across this remarkable place we call home.
The Housing Opportunities team was able to award 27 proposals, totalling $4.7 million in grants over three years. Meyer is supporting work to build and preserve housing that will be more affordable, give families room to manage their budgets and minimize instances of needing to choose between paying rent or a mortgage and paying for food, medication or school supplies. The investments will also bolster community-based work, grounded in values of equity and inclusion, to bring housing stability to people experiencing multiple forms of systemic oppression. Our partners work to foster stronger, more equitable and effective affordable housing systems using a variety of tools: community organizing and advocacy, applied research, and alignment of housing with health and other systems of care.
A few examples of the work funded in this batch of proposals: Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians is making progress to build 33 affordable homes for Tribal families in Douglas County. Unite Oregon, in collaboration with the Community Alliance of Tenants, is forming the SW Equity Coalition to implement equitable development actions that empower, stabilize and build capacity among communities in the Southwest corridor of Portland. And Clackamas Women’s Services will work with partners to provide housing support and wraparound services for domestic violence survivors of color, immigrants/refugees, and human trafficking survivors in Clackamas County. We are humbled by the challenges that our nonprofit partners regularly tackle in their efforts to increase housing justice in Oregon.
As announced in March, the Building Community portfolio followed a modified approach this year, administering the AFO by invitation to a group of existing grantees that have made significant progress toward meeting BC’s anchor criteria: demonstrated commitment to DEI, engagement in systems change work and raising up constituent voice. In total, 32 organizations received funding totaling $2.27 million.
Organizations in this group work in a broad range of issue areas and with varied approaches. Innovation Law Lab employs a novel legal framework that breaks immigrant rights work into component parts to help visualize and realize pathways to immigrant inclusion. Unite Oregon’s work recognizes that urban models of community organizing do not easily translate to rural communities and that deep differences in language, culture and world view can inhibit potential allies from working together for solutions. Project Access NOW is formulating a referral system that can be more responsive to community health needs. They are doing this through an approach that allows community health workers at community-based organizations to broaden and strengthen impact among communities of color by referring uninsured or underinsured clients to health systems for care.
In addition, the Building Community team launched a small funding opportunity to learn alongside direct service providers that are working to deepen their work toward systems change. Twelve organizations from around the state were selected to participate in a series of three convenings and, as the program concludes, receive funding for a project to deepen their organizational capacity for engaging in systems change work. Funding is expected to total $850,000.
As you can see, there are many organizations doing incredible work in Oregon. It is an honor for us at Meyer to be partnering with these organizations that work so diligently to ensure that underrepresented people’s voices are lifted and cared for. I look forward to continuing to learn more about Oregon and the amazing organizations out there.
You can stay up-to-date with future funding opportunities from Meyer and our outreach plans when you subscribe to our e-newsletter here.
Photo caption: Foreground, waves crash along the shoreline near an Oregon coast cliff. Background, rays of light radiate from a coastal lighthouse into the Pacific Ocean. Photo credit: Jamie Francis Photography.
Engaging internally for stronger impact externally
This time last year, I was in conversation with Meyer staff and leadership about the foundation’s new Director of Program Strategy position. I was excited to think about joining a team that centered equity and lived experience in philanthropy. My career has been intensely focused on building partnerships with grantees and community members, and as I relocated here in January, I eagerly looked forward to connecting with our partners throughout Oregon. I am pleased to have made a number of trips out of Portland to meet with grantees, funders and community members — and one memorable visit to Multnomah Falls with my husband and two young sons — but, candidly, most of my time has been focused on wrapping my arms around the work internally.
That means I’ve used 2019 to deepen my connection with the Meyer’s team, assess our annual funding opportunity process, evaluate our grantmaking work overall and, most importantly, try to learn what the field asks of us and to implement strategic changes to be more responsive. The opportunity for centering grantees in our strategy work is an approach I’m excited to highlight here.
In a shift from years past, we tweaked Meyer’s 2019 Annual Funding Opportunity to be more flexible and timely. All four of our portfolios worked hard to get resources out the door quickly to organizations that needed funding sooner than our typical late fall AFO announcement.
Nowhere is that shift more obvious than Meyer’s Equitable Education portfolio. Schools and districts have made clear the importance of receiving funding prior to the start of the school year in September. You spoke; we listened. This batch includes 18 grants, totaling $2.5 million, nearly all for efforts set to launch with the new school year.
You’ll find the full list of awards made since spring here.
Another big piece of work centered around our Building Community portfolio, which has awarded 39 grants totaling more than $2.4 million since April: This year, we offered an invitation-only closed funding opportunity to refine our focus on systems-level change and direct-service providers. Clarifying those changes led to a robust response to an RFP supporting direct service — you’ll notice those awards among the latest batch of general operating grants, all organizations holding up key pieces of work to make Oregon a flourishing and equitable state. The Building Community portfolio team spoke about these changes (and more) in this interview and FAQ page.
The Building Community portfolio also released a report this summer on two years of Nonprofit Sector Support, shepherded by Carol Cheney, who became Meyer’s DEI manager earlier this year. In case you missed the report summary, it outlines grants Meyer awarded to organizations in 2016 to advance leadership in support of equity and capacity building for diversity, equity and inclusion practice within the nonprofit sector. Meyer worked closely with grantees who engaged in peer learning through 2018. The report reflects shared learning. I invite you to take a look at the summary, here.
For the past several years, Meyer’s environmental funding was delivered through two streams: the Willamette River Initiative for river-related grantmaking and our Healthy Environment portfolio, for statewide work. Together, Meyer’s environmental funding since April amounted to 30 grants totaling $1.8 million. This fall, the 10-year WRI will end, actively transitioning to an independent organization. So the time had come to add a program officer to what had been our smallest portfolio. Hiring a program officer for our environment portfolio increases the team’s capacity to partner deeply with our grantees across Oregon. Meet Mary Rose Navarro.
In addition to grantmaking, Meyer’s Housing Opportunities portfolio hosted its second Equity Housing Summit this summer, a daylong event for housing-focused or homeless service providers to share strengths, insights and lessons to advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts specifically in rural spaces. You can learn more about the summit in a new blog post from our Philanthropy Northwest Momentum Housing Fellow, Lauren Waudé. You’ll also find resources from the summit, including speeches, materials and the land recognition that started off our day, here. All told, 19 Housing Opportunities grants since April total nearly $1.5 million.
Beyond our portfolio specific awards, Meyer occasionally makes grants to respond to timely needs and opportunities. Since April, Meyer has awarded 24 such grants, totaling $470,000, in support of philanthropy and through the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative.
The change in season means we’re approaching the announcement of grantmaking funded through Meyer’s 2019 AFO in November. I look forward to sharing more with you then — and I am especially committed to connecting more directly with community over the next year.
2018 Annual Funding Opportunity grants total $24 million
Meyer Memorial Trust recently approved $24 million in grants to organizations working throughout Oregon to remove barriers to equity and create conditions in the state where all individuals thrive. Among the 188 Annual Funding Opportunity grants are efforts to directly dismantle systems perpetuating hate and injustice in Oregon, to push forward systems-level change across rural and urban communities, and to amplify the impact and credibility of community level solutions to advance justice.
Meyer's third Annual Funding Opportunity (AFO) supports 24 new-to-Meyer grantees, has statewide reach and overwhelmingly benefits communities and people who are marginalized and experience disparities. Those priority populations include people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Oregonians; immigrants and refugees; women and girls; economically disadvantaged individuals; people with disabilities; indigenous populations and Tribes; and underserved rural communities.
The 2018 funding call includes support for efforts to build inclusive and diverse communities, to break down inequities through local and statewide policy and systems change, to support pathways for people most impacted by decisions to sit at the tables where those decisions are made, to grow organizations so diverse people see themselves reflected at all levels and to help build wealth in communities that have long experienced income disparities.
Specifically, this batch of grants will help build 204 new units of affordable housing and preserve an additional 34 affordable homes. Grants will support 23 organizations working to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion in their services and throughout their operations to better serve Oregonians. And the 2018 grant awards reflect partnerships with four of the state’s nine federally recognized tribes: the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde; the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians; the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians.
In all, the foundation received 630 AFO applications this year, requesting more than $74 million through Meyer's Building Community, Equitable Education, Healthy Environment and Housing Opportunities portfolios. More than half of the requests were directed to the Building Community portfolio with the remaining spread across the other three portfolios.
Highlights from the Building Community portfolio awards
Meyer provided a $180,000 grant to Mano a Mano to support Radio Poder, a startup full-power, non-commercial FM radio station broadcasting in three indigenous Mexican languages: Purepecha, Mixteco and Trique. Radio Poder, "La Voz del Pueblo," aims to reach a Latinx community of 350,000 people throughout the Willamette Valley with trusted, vital and timely information focused on housing, immigration, workers' and LGBTQ rights, gender, criminal justice, health care, gun and domestic violence, local elections, community leadership, cultural traditions and other equity issues.
Meyer made a $175,000 grant to Elders in Action for coordination of a coalition focused on improving policies and services for low-income older Oregonians in Multnomah County. One-eighth of the county's population of 800,000 people are over 60 years old, the fastest growing demographic, projected to increase by 60 percent by 2025.
Meyer also made a grant of $99,600 to Self Enhancement Inc., to support the Portland African American Leadership Forum, which is implementing a newly adopted, community-driven strategic business plan. The Portland African American Leadership Forum, which helps Oregon's Black community build political participation and leadership, takes seriously the words of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer: "Nobody's free until everybody's free."
These grants are among 61 Building Community portfolio awards, totalling more than $7.7 million, aimed at making Oregon a place where all Oregonians can be part of vibrant communities they help to shape and where they feel valued, represented and seen.
"We're looking for projects that propel systemic change in tangible ways," wrote Building Community portfolio director Dahnesh Medora in his blog post announcing the 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity awards. His team sorted through more than 350 applications. "This philosophy and belief in systems-level change is fundamental to what we do at Meyer: support solutions that counteract and fix the underlying issues of inequities and not just the symptoms that create the need for a given program or service."
Read more about the Building Community grants here.
Highlights from the Equitable Education portfolio awards
Meyer provided a $100,000 grant to the American Indian Science and Engineering Society for programming in computer science, science, technology, engineering and mathematics for Tribal and urban Native students throughout Oregon. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) was founded 41 years ago with the mission of substantially increasing the representation of American Indians, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders in STEM-related fields. The grant is one of 40 Equitable Education portfolio awards, totalling nearly $5.2 million and leveraging strategic impact for an Oregon where all students have true opportunity to pursue their dreams.
Meyer made a $141,933 grant to Chemeketa Community College for a program that will increase the number of biliterate and bilingual teachers in Oregon schools. Last year, 31 states — including Oregon — reported teacher shortages in the areas of bilingual, dual-language immersion or English as a Second Language education. These shortages reflect a national struggle to find teachers with needed pedagogical knowledge and skills to support the country's growing English language learner student population.
Meyer also made a grant of $120,000 for innovative academic programming to help low-income, rural youths in Harney County go to college and become career ready. Dozens of the current batch of AFO grants serve rural and frontier communities and Tribes in communities that are home to 16 percent of Oregon's population of 4.1 million people.
Matt Morton, the Equitable Education portfolio director, explained how Meyer's education strategy guided his team through 99 applications: "We remain laser focused within our lane and to support projects that don't just feature high representation of our priority students. We have to fund projects that meet and satisfy student needs, above all," in his award announcement blog. "Without targeted investments for those experiencing disparities, disparities grow, resulting in even greater inequities in the very classrooms where we are trying to eliminate them."
Read more about the Equitable Education grants here.
Highlights from the Healthy Environments portfolio awards
Meyer provided a $165,000 grant to the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) for expansion of a pilot program that brings community solar projects to serve low-income residents in Oregon. The poorest 20 percent of Americans pay a disproportionately large share of income for their energy. The pilot is part of BEF's efforts to build an inclusive clean energy movement to support the economic vitality of disadvantaged communities while also improving the environment. The grant is one of 55 Healthy Environment portfolio awards, totalling $5.3 million and helping to diversify Oregon's environmental movement.
Meyer made an $86,000 grant to Beyond Toxics for a collaborative addressing environmental racism, health and justice issues affecting African American, Latinx and immigrant communities in Jackson, Josephine and Lane counties. Oregon's environmental justice organizers demand that government policies and business practices use a framework of justice and equity to protect all Oregonians from environmental harm.
Meyer also made a grant of $100,000 to the Forest Stewardship Council Investments and Partnerships to expand the market for sustainably sourced construction materials grown in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The globally recognized leadership standard for forest management, FSC requires stringent forestry practices to prohibit deforestation, to protect rare old growth forests and threatened and endangered species, to strictly limit clearcutting, to restrict the use of highly hazardous pesticides, and to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples on public and private lands.
"One of the new developments in this pool of awards is a robust collective of grants to Tribes and Native-led organizations that seek to elevate and integrate Indigenous knowledge and practices into conservation and environmental protection efforts across the state," Portfolio director Jill Fuglister wrote in her latest blog. Half a dozen grants serve Oregon Tribes and Native American communities across the state, grantmaking that reflects the portfolio's renewed efforts to strategize more closely with Oregon's sovereign tribal neighbors. "Not only are we delighted to support these efforts, but 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."
Read more about the Healthy Environment grants here.
Highlights from the Housing Opportunities portfolio awards
Meyer provided a $200,000 grant to Sponsors Inc. to build five tiny house duplexes for people with criminal histories in Lane County. Plans call for each home to be just under 300 square feet and rent for around $300 a month. Average rents in Eugene run $1,250, with studio apartments renting on average for $840, one-bedroom apartments for $980 a month and two-bedroom apartments for $1,170. The grant is one of 33 Housing Opportunities portfolio awards, totalling more than $5.8 million, addressing thorny housing issues throughout Oregon.
Meyer made a $185,000 grant to the Coalition of Communities of Color to support an Oregon-wide network of housing advocates of color and culturally specific organizations active in housing issues. Affording a safe and stable place to live remains a challenge for many Oregonians, particularly renters. Housing costs weigh more heavily on communities of color, especially for the state's African American community, where seven in ten households are renters, double the rate of non-Hispanic white Oregon households.
Meyer also made a grant of $135,000 to Northeast Oregon Network (NEON), for the Housing Matters Collaborative, which is focused on increasing affordable housing options for low-income and vulnerable families and individuals in rural Union County. Residents of Oregon's more isolated areas struggle to find safe, affordable places to live despite lower costs of living because incomes in many rural areas are also significantly lower thanks to limited economic opportunities and struggling or dormant industries.
"Knowing that our funds are limited, we look for strategic investments that reflect an understanding of racist and discriminatory housing practices that have created disparities and work to eliminate those imbalances through collaboration, systems-level change and resource alignment," Theresa Deibele, director of the Housing Opportunities portfolio, wrote in her blog announcing $5.86 million in grants. "We applaud our partners in the field — including Sponsors, CASA of Oregon and dozens of others — that remain committed to solving some of the hardest issues in affordable housing and breaking down barriers to equity that have likely been in place for decades, possibly generations."
Read more about the Housing Opportunities grants here.
And take a look at the full AFO list here, or for a more visual experience, check out these spreadsheets with the 188 grants broken down by portfolio, goal and counties served.
Meyer is also excited to announce another 44 grants totaling $1.58 million made outside the annual funding call; check out that list here.
Funding statewide stability: Housing Opportunities portfolio awards $5.86 million in grants
Through our Annual Funding Opportunity, this year the Housing Opportunities portfolio saw many of our partners propose innovative solutions to address some of the most complex housing challenges in Oregon. In surveying the awards, grit and creativity rise to the top as two of the most prominent themes of the efforts of this year's 33 grant recipients — taken from 78 applicants — receiving awards totaling $5.86 million.
And, yes, like previous years, projects funded in 2018 span the entirety of our state, from urban to rural regions and include large and small organizations focusing on single efforts and group collaborations. And a few organizations were funded by Meyer for the first time.
Each year, we seek grant proposals that will move us closer to our vision of safe, affordable, long-term housing for all Oregonians. Knowing that our funds are limited, we look for strategic investments that reflect an understanding of racist and discriminatory housing practices that have created disparities and work to eliminate those imbalances through collaboration, systems-level change and resource alignment. That's the joy and challenge of working within this portfolio. Needs make themselves known and we respond. It's our job to find them.
Thankfully, our partners make that easy.
We'll take a closer look at two topics that gained traction in this year's batch: replacement of substandard manufactured housing and providing housing for formerly incarcerated people.
When Meyer established its initial housing goals five years ago, preservation of rural manufactured housing was one of our key strategies. We knew that manufactured housing is a primary source of affordable housing in many rural Oregon communities. A significant percentage of those homes were built before 1980, and many are in significant disrepair, forcing families to live in unstable and unhealthy environments and pay a significant portion of their limited incomes on utility costs. Our partners labored for years to piece together the puzzle of resources needed to replace these substandard homes at a price families could afford.
Four proposals funded in this batch focus on replacing dilapidated mobile homes. Each proposal comes at it from a unique angle, bringing expertise and connections to address part of the issue. For example, we've been working with Community and Shelter Assistance of Oregon on housing issues for a number of years. This year, CASA of Oregon received a two-year grant to fund a replacement strategy manager position that will both manage and document the ambitious collaboration happening at a resident-owned cooperative park in southern Oregon.
That means fewer repairs, lower energy bills and healthier homes. Better homes allow families to focus more energy on career, education and family goals. Families will also feel empowered because they'll be living in new homes that can be preserved for the next generation.
We at Meyer are even more buoyed by the long-term ripple effect this model may one day achieve.
A critical component of the newly funded position at CASA of Oregon is to memorialize every phase of the process so that other organizations throughout the state can reproduce and adapt its processes to fit their needs and unique circumstances. It's thrilling to imagine the number of new homes for low-income individuals and families, immigrants and elderly people that may emerge from this project.
Three other proposals in this batch are also immersed in manufactured housing. When viewed together, the collective work is poised to make big strides that can address the thorny issues around manufactured housing replacement.
Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation has engaged in a range of homeownership counseling services, such as financial capacity building, matched savings accounts, reverse mortgages and foreclosure counseling. Increasingly, it was seeing owners of manufactured housing coming in with requests but found it was ill-equipped to serve them because of distinct differences inherent in manufactured housing. Meyer's grant will support NEDCO staff focused on manufactured housing education and counseling services over two years.
Craft3 received a two-year grant to pilot a funding model with the Energy Trust of Oregon to replace aging and unsafe manufactured homes in southern Oregon with healthy, energy-efficient models, helping low- and moderate-income homeowners with long-term housing stability.
Meyer supported St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County to preserve needed affordable housing at Saginaw Mobile Home Park. With many park homes deemed unlivable, the grant will help to replace existing single-wide manufactured homes with new, energy-efficient models and improve the health, safety and long-term viability of the park.
We also saw breakthrough work this year from Sponsors, which provides transitional and long-term housing services to previously incarcerated individuals, for whom firm grounding in the housing market has always proven elusive. The Sponsors grant will staff and support a multi-sector collaborative integrating comprehensive case management and parole and probation supervision support with permanent supportive housing for the prison re-entry population in the Lane county area.
This level of assistance is essential. Individuals released from prison often can't compete for housing in the marketplace for numerous reasons: a prison record, inadequate rental history, lack of funds, the absence of a job and so on. Yet housing is the most stabilizing factor in a person's life and provides a crucial platform for employment, education and health.
Sponsors works directly with Homes for Good, which is familiar with supporting high needs populations, to ensure a holistic approach to property management and solving housing disputes in an equitable way before resorting to evictions. The pilot was extremely successful, achieving a one-year housing stability rate of 87 percent and a one-year incarceration recidivism rate of only 2.4 percent. Recent analysis conducted by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission found that the one-year felony re-conviction rate among residents at one of the Homes for Good sites with Sponsors was 60 percent lower than the Oregon state baseline.
Sponsors has been working for years to make housing less daunting to this vulnerable population. The rest of us are just catching up to their good work.
We applaud our partners in the field — including Sponsors, CASA of Oregon and dozens of others — that remain committed to solving some of the hardest issues in affordable housing and breaking down barriers to equity that have likely been in place for decades, possibly generations. It is only through our partners' work that Meyer will see strides toward our mission of an equitable and flourishing Oregon.
A full list of the grants in this year's Annual Funding Opportunity batch can be found here.