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.
Diversifying our environmental movement: Healthy Environment portfolio awards $5.32 million in grants
A guiding principle for the Healthy Environment portfolio is to support work that transform the systems which create and sustain inequities and environmental degradation in our communities. This means changing the rules, relationships, roles and practices in institutions and systems — large and small — that shape culture, politics, the economy, how we manage natural resources and more.
As I consider the 55 grants totaling $5.32 million that we awarded this year through Meyer's Annual Funding Opportunity, I see a common vision woven throughout that seeks to undo the extractive, transactional and damaging relationships we have with the planet and each other to advance new and proven approaches at all levels — organizational, local, regional and state — that are based on values of justice, cooperation, ecological sustainability and equity.
The breadth of applicants and grantees this year reflects the continued scope of this portfolio: advancing solutions toward climate change and climate justice, land and forest conservation, clean air, watershed health and green workforce development. Awards include small technical assistance grants, particularly for organizational development work to deepen internal diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, as well as support for larger projects and broader state policy efforts.
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. 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.
This collective of Tribe and Native-led projects includes:
$185,000 to The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians to fund a natural lands conservation plan that integrates the Tribes' cultural and healthy traditions goals.
$176,037 to The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to support a program that will improve air quality and mitigate health impacts related to prescribed burning for wildfire management.
$249,850 to support a collaborative effort of five Tribal communities — The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Nez Perce Tribe — to study and assess the loss in Tribal natural resource services of importance to the governments and members of the Tribes as a result of contamination in Portland Harbor and to integrate this information into watershed and habitat restoration in the lower Willamette.
$50,000 to The Confederated Lower Chinook Tribes and Bands to purchase, protect and revitalize the Tribes' historically important Tansy Point treaty grounds.
$136,978 to the Nez Perce Tribe to support the integration of Tribal knowledge into Wallowa Lake management that will benefit Tribal members and Wallowa County communities.
$185,000 to Wisdom of the Elders to train Native American adults living in both urban areas and on reservations about Native plant nursery work and to help them develop agricultural careers and/or micro-enterprises using these new skills.
One aspect of the legacy of colonization is how it privileges the colonizer's viewpoint related to land, which is oriented around concepts of "ownership" and "private property," rather than an Indigenous perspective, which is oriented around the concept of a reciprocal relationship with the land. In short, colonization has destroyed, exploited and invisibilized Indigenous communities and their approach to environmentalism. A common example of this is the predominance of Western science information in environmental education versus an approach that also includes spiritual or cultural values and understanding of the environment. Another example is the commodification of plants by pharmaceutical companies based on Indigenous community knowledge and medicinal use of these plants.
The Tribe-led projects that we are funding this year disrupt this colonial legacy and integrate cultural and traditional ecological knowledge with Western science in their efforts to protect and restore ecosystems. They embody what we in Meyer's Healthy Environment portfolio are trying to achieve.
I'm pleased to celebrate our partnership with the grantees that I've highlighted here as well as the other organizations that we are honored to support this year. View a full list of Healthy Environment grantees here.
I look forward to entering 2019 in search of new opportunities for partnership and to build on our portfolio's growing body of environmental justice and conservation work that aims to benefit communities experiencing disparities in Oregon and change the institutions and systems that perpetuate inequities.
Leveraging for strategic impact: Equitable Education portfolio awards $5.16 million in grants
History tells us that extraordinary change begins by way of small but significant steps that often aren't even visible at first glance.
For example, as we welcome this portfolio's Annual Funding Opportunity awards, I notice, on the surface, similar numbers as last year: 99 applications requesting $12.8 million in funding, with 40 grants totaling $5.16 million eventually awarded.
Grant recipients also include, once again, a broad mix of urban and rural organizations stretching from Portland to eastern Oregon. There are both independent and collaborative team efforts, featuring organizations of all types, trying to redress disparity in public education from different approaches: by amending policy and systems and by proposing both short and long-term impacts.
But as I dig deeper through the numbers and each of the 2018 grant proposals, I see a reason — woven subtly into the many narrative threads of this year's grantees — to be excited by the potential of seismic, systemic change in education across the state. The organizations funded reveal a small wave of momentum that clarifies the guiding, game-changing spirit of this portfolio. Our North Star, if you will.
That tiny murmur actually made its presence known last year, during our inaugural season, when we funded a multi-year $250,000 grant for Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC) in Newport. In a sentence, the proposal outlined a collaboration between OCCC, the Lincoln County School District, Tillamook Bay Community College and Western Oregon University to grow a teacher workforce for Lincoln County.
The details, however, revealed a deeper story that's still progressing and will continue to evolve for some time.
It's no secret there is a shortage of teachers in Oregon coastal communities. But more importantly, data show that the teaching workforce in the state is 90 percent white even though the student body — like the coastal population as a whole — is increasing in racial diversity. The OCCC proposal recognized this inequity and formulated a plan to recruit high school students of color who have an interest in teaching. The collaborative effort seeks to shepherd students from high school into a community college network and then onto four-year institutions such as Western Oregon University, where they can prepare for the professional credentialing process.
This year, to our delight, the trend involving community colleges continued but in an even more targeted way. Columbia Gorge Community College and Chemeketa Community College each proposed plans similar to OCCC's in scale and focus. Their proposals call for direct outcomes intended to recruit and transition a diverse student pool into the teaching profession so they may eventually serve their respective communities. Aside from diversifying the workforce in their regions, each proposal applauds diversity itself: Biliteracy is treated as a tool meant to be celebrated, one that adds to the life potential of bicultural students.
Only time will show if these unique, forward-thinking projects achieve fruition, but I believe they will. The implications could be staggering and could tell us several critical things.
In 1991, the Oregon Legislature passed the Minority Teacher Act, which means Oregon has been working to close the diversity gap between students and teachers for 27 years. But the progress made over nearly three decades has been modest, perhaps because it's difficult for members of any legislature to commit to systemic change when the state operates on two and four-year cycles. But here's the problem: You can't plan for long-term solutions when you don't have time for leverage.
This is where philanthropic organizations like Meyer can add to the discussion and make a tangible difference. For example, over the past two years we have received education grant requests that exceed $35 million in funding. For us, this is evidence of the depth of need that is out there. Although our $5.16 million in grants for equitable education are microscopic compared with Oregon public school system budgets that total in the billions, we aren't tied to limited duration planning cycles that understandably handcuff risk-taking for the sake of pragmatism.
These projects also buttress what those of us working in the education sector have always believed: Community colleges are uniquely poised to serve as low-barrier intermediaries for diverse student populations. What's more, they have the entrepreneurial initiative to build enduring and replicable networks that catapult students toward achieving their dreams.
As I look at the first two years of funding opportunities as one continuous story, I see three proposals that, while unrelated to one another practically, emanate from the same governing spirit and ethos: School districts and the communities they serve recognize the value of empowering their diverse populations and providing students with educators who reflect their history and backgrounds. Community colleges have taken note and are acting on it.
Collectively, these events spur Meyer and the Equitable Education portfolio to think about the job we're doing and how it can be done better as we move forward.
Three years ago, we at Meyer decided to focus our efforts exclusively on achieving equity in Oregon. For those of us working in the Equitable Education portfolio, that now means we must always hew to the meaning of the word "equitable" and our North Star of advancing meaningful public education for anyone who has faced enduring, systemic barriers to equal access: students of color, those living in poverty or as part of the foster care system, young people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community and more.
Practically, our commitment to equity demands 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. 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.
Our efforts have a chance to operate as a catalyst for change and possibly shift how institutions conduct business. One day, for example, we may even alter how public resources are spent or advance ideas that other institutions can emulate without fear of risk.
Admittedly, I'm describing game-changing, potentially transformative, scenarios here. But this year's annual funding opportunity fills me with the potential of promise that, after two years, the Equitable Education portfolio is very much on to something.
P.S. I encourage you to review the full list of 2018 Equitable Education Annual Funding Opportunity grantees here.
Moving towards systems-level change: Building Community portfolio awards $7.78 million in grant
When I think about the Building Community portfolio, I think of the many and complex ways nonprofits support our communities. Taken together, their work is much like a large tree with dozens of roots reaching out in every direction under the earth. Some of those roots run long and deep, some less so. But each one supports something greater and bigger than itself.
This year, the Building Community portfolio received 351 initial applications — more than half of the total number of applications received across all portfolios — requesting $38 million in funding. With $7.78 million in available funding, we were able to make awards to 61 organizations, or about 17 percent of all applicants to the portfolio.
As we dive into the figures, we find that most grants support specific projects that will exist for a discrete period of time. Capacity building, operating and capital support grants follow. People of color are the largest population served, with people living on low-incomes, along with immigrants and refugees, not far behind.
Geographically, these organizations are based in both rural and urban areas and operate throughout the state. Our portfolio also awarded grants to two first-time applicants; five organizations that had previously applied received grants from Meyer for the first time. A little over half of grantees have annual budgets that range between $200,000 and $1 million.
Grantees also tackle critical and timely issues in Oregon: recidivism, youth and leadership development, and community wealth. This doesn't include the myriad social, economic and political issues addressed by other organizations in that pool of 351 applicants.
These numbers provide insights into how the Building Community portfolio makes decisions.
Digging further into the information, we found that the most competitive applicants were committed to tearing down inequities or creating equitable opportunities, particularly for historically and currently marginalized populations such as people of color, Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ communities and our elders.
In fact, that commitment to marshalling equity holds true for most applicants, including those whose proposals did not advance this year. Reviewing the applications, three critical elements that are pertinent to Meyer and our mission stand out.
The first is commitment to or experience advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. The second is a willingness to seek advice from and be held accountable to the ultimate beneficiaries: the constituent group.
Finally, we're looking for projects that propel systemic change in tangible ways. You may have heard similar words from other portfolio staff because 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.
Another notable characteristic: Many applicants referenced the current national political climate, putting forward analysis and plans that would move policy or advocate to make tectonic change.
Although there are many impressive grantees, I'd like to highlight three recipients as a way to illustrate what I mean.
The Innovation Law Lab received about $184,000 to hire an operations/finance director and partially fund its development director position. Both hires will fortify this four year-old organization's infrastructure so it can continue to train attorneys that provide representation for immigrants in detention centers as well as asylum seekers in immigration court. The Innovation Law Lab provides crucial, life-changing legal defense services for vulnerable communities that may one day alter the way all immigrants and refugees are treated in Oregon.
A $156,000 grant to CAPACES Leadership Institute recognizes the unique and powerful way this Woodburn-based nonprofit trains and prepares Latinxs from diverse backgrounds — low-income, farmworking and immigrant families — for jobs in public service and politics. CAPACES realizes that Latinxs now comprise about 25 percent of the total population in Marion and Polk counties.
At the same time, Latinxs are underrepresented in public service and political job sectors. CAPACES collaborates frequently with other organizations to close this gap in a way that only a precious few, if any, organizations are doing. The Meyer grant will support staff, fees and expenses related to CAPACES' leadership development program.
Western States Center needed $125,000 over three years to help fund a comprehensive strategic plan for important operational infrastructure. This will enable the organization to strengthen its groundbreaking role in advancing equity and democracy in Oregon, particularly championing the rights of communities of color, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ individuals and more. Western States provides everything from rapid response support in the wake of reported hate crimes to complex investigative polling on issues of racial and social injustice. The work conducted by Western States Center is expansive and attempts to transform the way all of Oregon approaches democracy.
From these three examples, equity as experienced through this portfolio is clear: There must be a recognition of the many racial, social and cultural identities holding space together in our world.
All of these characteristics form Meyer's filter and our understanding for creating a better, more equitable society. After we peel away layers of numbers, statistics and interpretations, what's uncovered is a concise and powerful truth: Our grantee partners are working to bring down barriers that have kept inequity alive and thriving.
Now in our third year as a portfolio, we continue to appreciate how nonprofits in all corners of the state remain persistent in their efforts to rise to the challenges facing their communities and constituents. We are grateful for the time and thoughtfulness put forward in the applications and look forward to learning more about how we can serve the field in the coming year.
We kicked off summer with enthusiasm here at Meyer! We want to share some highlights with you.
Grant Awards: 42 Grants Totaling $1.87 Million
Our support as part of the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative continues. In May and June, Meyer invested $380,000 to organizations addressing important and time-sensitive issues experienced by immigrants and refugees. Grants included:
$100,000 to Innovation Law Lab to provide legal counsel and representation, advocacy and litigation surrounding the detention of immigrants at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon.
$100,000 to Immigration Counseling Service to deliver legal services to underserved immigrant groups who are rural residents, unaccompanied minors, trafficking victims and/or LGBTQ immigrants.
$100,000 to prevent and confront efforts to deport Oregonians through free legal services.
We also made a grant of $185,000 to support Western States Center as it launches a project to prevent the advance of white nationalism in Oregon communities by bringing new voices and institutions into the anti-hate field.
Neighborhood Partnerships, an organization working statewide to help Oregonians achieve housing stability and build financial security, received funding through our Housing Opportunities portfolio. This grant support will assist this cornerstone organization to build on its success, diversify voices, broaden and train a leadership base, and maintain the momentum of the Oregon Housing Alliance. Coupled with other Housing Opportunities grants, the portfolio made awards totaling over $540,000.
Six grants totalling $443,615 were made through our Willamette River Initiative in support of the Willamette model watershed program, which focuses on building capacity for high-impact watershed restoration in seven key Willamette River tributaries. Speaking of the Willamette River Initiative, be sure to check out WRI's new website to learn more about the successes of this 10-year initiative to improve the health of the Willamette River and the way the initiative is evolving to become a community-led network.
Other highlights include continued support for the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy (NCRP), an organization that pushes philanthropy to do more for those who are marginalized, underserved and disenfranchised. If you haven't seen it, you'll want to check out NCRP's new Power Moves initiative designed to help philanthropy explore how well they are building, wielding and sharing power.
And here is a save the date you won't want to miss. Meyer is pleased to support Literary Arts in bringing DeRay Mckesson, civil rights leader and host of Pod Save the People, to Portland on September 20. You can find out more about DeRay and how to get your tickets here.
Absolutely amazing work is moving us closer to an Oregon where every person and community can truly thrive. This made for some tough decisions! In mid-June, we invited 202 applications to continue the process. These include requests that would benefit every region of Oregon, with nearly half specifically benefitting rural communities. Almost 20 percent are from organizations that have never before received a Meyer grant.
Our program team folks are now out in the community visiting with applicants to learn more about their opportunities, plans and needs. We look forward to sharing the awards after they are made this fall.
Whether your organization was invited to move forward this time or not, please know how much we value the important contributions you are making in Oregon communities. We also hope all of you will respond to the applicant feedback survey you recently received to help us understand how we can serve you better. And if you were not invited to move forward, please don't hesitate to contact us for a conversation and feedback.
We so appreciate the many opportunities to partner with nonprofits, tribes and public agencies across the state. We are truly grateful to all the organizations doing important work in and for our communities.
Affordable Housing Initiative: Requests for Proposals
Our focused support for affordable housing solutions continues this summer with two requests for proposals.
The first RFP focuses on opportunities that will increase low-income renters' access to and retention of quality private market housing units in communities of their choice. The application period closed in mid-July, and applications are now being reviewed. Look for an awards announcement in the fall.
We are now accepting applications through August 14 for the second RFP — an innovative 1 Million Month Challenge through which Meyer will select a small number of teams to develop innovative approaches to address Oregon's housing affordability problem. Read more about this challenge in my colleague Michael Parkhurst's blog and take a look at the RFP here.
We have appreciated the opportunities we've had to learn together with nonprofits and our peer regional funders over these past few months. Our Housing Opportunities team brought together grantees in several rural communities and the Center for Equity and Inclusion to dig into diversity, equity and inclusion and to explore ways to advance DEI through the work that they do. They also brought Affordable Housing grantees together to learn from each other about the costs and decision points in preserving current affordable housing portfolios. Healthy Environment grantees have formed a peer DEI learning collaborative, with support from The Raben Group, and Willamette River Initiative grantees have continued their DEI training and convening with the Center for Diversity and the Environment. Thanks to everyone who is engaging in this work with us.
We were also excited to bring organizations funded through our leadership development and capacity builder learning communities together with leaders of the Luminare Group to explore how evaluations can be designed and implemented to meaningfully advance equity, further nonprofit and foundation missions, and build organizations and communities. As a bonus, Meyer partnered with Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington to host a similar conversation with Luminare Group and Oregon funders. Curious about equity and evaluation? You can learn more about this emerging work on the Equitable Evaluation website.
As always, we strive to be out in the community and to engage with folks outside Meyer's walls. From participating in regional summits like the OSU LatinX Summit to networking at conferences like Regards to Rural and the Oregon Nonprofit Leaders Conference to community visits in Warm Springs, Ontario, Medford, Hood River, Bend and La Pine — it is a privilege to partner and learn with you to improve this place we call home.
Even as we were launching our 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity, we were busy making 55 grants totaling $2.58 million through our other funding strategies.You can find the full list of awards organized by portfolio here, but this month we wanted to provide a bit of a different look into our grantmaking. Our spring awards provide excellent examples of the ways in which Meyer invests in our priorities and supports our partners outside our annual funding call. Here are a few highlights:
1. Providing grantees with technical assistance and related supports.
These quick turnaround technical assistance grants are one way that Meyer's grantmaking strives to be nimble and responsive to our nonprofit partners' emerging organizational needs and opportunities. You can read more about these and other technical assistance awards here.
2. Grants directed to strategic, extraordinary and time-sensitive opportunities.
From time to time, our partners are presented with important opportunities that, for compelling reasons, do not fit into our scheduled grantmaking timeline, yet are strongly aligned with our goals and priorities. At other times, we have specific targeted strategies that we are proactively cultivating or work that initially came through our annual funding opportunity but for some reason was delayed. As examples, we contributed capital funding to three organizations to support them in moving forward with opportunities to build assets within their communities — communities that have long experienced oppression and marginalization and have been under-resourced by philanthropy. These grants include:
$150,000 to the Confederated Tribes of Siletz to develop affordable housing for Siletz tribal members. We are especially excited about this new partnership as it is the first time that Meyer is supporting tribal housing development.
$250,000 to APANO to leverage 48 units of affordable housing in East Portland's Jade District, a predominantly Asian community experiencing gentrification.
$250,000 to IRCO Africa House to take advantage of a unique and time-sensitive opportunity to purchase a building to house services for African immigrant and refugee communities in Oregon.
3. Investing in community leaders.
Meyer continues our investment in developing and supporting leaders who can advance diversity, equity and inclusion for community and system change. To further this work, we made 18 follow-on grants totaling nearly $800,000 to 2017 leadership development grantees who came together from across the state over the past year to engage with us in a learning collaborative. Examples include EUVALCREE and Rural Development Initiative partnering to deliver and evaluate leadership development in eight eastern Oregon counties; Welcome Home Coalition working to help affordable housing residents to lead community discussions on equitable housing policy and practice in Clackamas County; Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality organizing and training Latino, Spanish-speaking parents on social justice in education; and Western States Center, which is amplifying the work, narrative and voice of tribal leaders on tribal law and policy and LGBTQ law and policy. These are just a few examples of the amazing work happening to build power in communities across Oregon. You can see the full list of nonprofit sector support grants to support leaders here.
Of note, in awarding these grants we applied a streamlined process with a quick turnaround to help maintain seamless funding and minimize the time and effort required by nonprofits to request an additional year of funding. Going forward, we'll continue to test new ways of working in our quest for continued improvement and partnership.
4. Preserving and increasing Oregon's affordable housing.
In the final round of funding under our Affordable Housing Initiative's Sustaining Portfolios Strategy, which works to strengthen nonprofit housing developers' capacity to preserve existing affordable housing, we awarded follow-on funding totaling $225,000 to three housing organizations to implement property-specific portfolio preservation plans. Combined with five grants awarded in January, this group of Sustaining Portfolios awards will have wide reach across our state, collectively supporting affordable housing preservation in Lincoln City, Roseburg, Bend and The Dalles, as well as Benton, Columbia, Jackson, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah and Washington counties. Two additional grants in support of housing preservation were made to NeighborImpact and Yamhill County Affordable Housing Corporation for weatherization and repair of manufactured housing — important affordable housing stock — in Crook, Deschutes, Jefferson and Yamhill counties.
We want to note that our housing grantees included Catholic Community Services Foundation, which is a key provider of affordable housing in Marion County. CCSF is a community leader, innovator and convener in supporting youths from marginalized populations, and it has a reputation in its local community as being welcoming and inclusive.
We regularly receive inquiries from faith-based and faith-affiliated organizations about eligibility. Meyer does fund faith-based and faith-affiliated organizations — Catholic Community Services Foundation is one example. We consider these requests within the context of our nondiscrimination and faith-based screening approach asking all applicants to confirm and self-certify to the following: "Our policies and practices provide equal opportunity to all qualified individuals in leadership, staffing and service, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion and any status protected by law." And we ask applicant organizations to certify the following: "We do not require attendance or participation in religious/faith activities as a condition of service delivery, nor do we require adherence to religious/faith beliefs as a condition of service or employment."
This is the lens that we use in determining eligibility. It is not a perfect system. We rely on self-certification and known information. And we recognize the tensions and perceptions that can sometimes exist when funding faith-based and faith-affiliated organizations. A specific organization can meet our nondiscrimination policy, be a key and respected provider in the community, and be serving marginalized communities. At the same time, their underlying religious doctrine can both support and clash with important aspects of Meyer's core values, such as full inclusion and support for the LGBTQ+ community. Meyer has refined our policy over the past few years, and we will continue to reflect on the dilemmas we encounter and iterate accordingly. You can find our full policy here.
We are pleased to be part of this rapid response program that organizations can access through any participating funder and with a shared application and reporting structure. Our funder collaborative continues to accept applications for critical and time-sensitive issues facing immigrants and refugees. You can find more details about the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative, along with application instructions, here. And check out the awards we’ve made thus far through this collaborative, here.
6. Recognizing the time and expertise of nonprofits.
Our nonprofit partners support Meyer's work, and we understand how valuable your time and expertise is. When you dedicate significant amounts of time with us, we want to acknowledge it. In this batch of awards, you will see modest grants to organizations such as IRCO and Latino Network, whose staff met with Meyer staff and trustees to provide education and dialogue about the relevance of the 2020 Census and barriers to obtaining a complete count in their communities, and Housing Development Center and NOAH, whose staff closely partnered with us in planning our 2018 Meyer-sponsored housing cost efficiency summit. This is one way that we operationalize our values.
Our Annual Funding Opportunity is by far our largest funding opportunity of the year and is a key strategy in supporting our values of community-defined solutions, transparency, accessibility and responsiveness. And we also support nonprofits in ways outside this structured open call and in service to our communities, values and partners.
7. And about that Annual Funding Opportunity. . .
We so appreciated the opportunity to meet with folks across the state.e connected with an estimated 1,000+ people through our in-person and virtual information sessions in March and April. Thank you for the warm welcomes, great conversations and personal connections. We always learn so much about the opportunities, challenges and great work happening in Oregon communities. And a big thanks to each of you who responded to our feedback survey: It helps us know what worked for you and how you think we can do even better.
Our staff is now diligently reviewing more than 600 applications submitted last month. Stay tuned. We'll be contacting applicants in mid-June to let them know whether they are invited to submit a full proposal. In the meantime, you can preview the full proposal questions here.
Come partner with us in Meyer's 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity!
It's that time of year again: We are excited to invite initial applications for the 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity! We anticipate awarding over $15 million to partners who share our vision and commitment to creating a flourishing and equitable Oregon where each one of us can thrive — an Oregon filled with vibrant communities where every voice is heard and a public education system where every child has true opportunity to learn and discover and pursue dreams. A place where our amazing natural environment is healthy and strong and supports our diverse cultures and communities and where every single person has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. If your work brings us closer to this vision, please consider applying!
All four of Meyer's portfolios — Building Community, Equitable Education, Healthy Environment and Housing Opportunities — are now accepting applications until 5 p.m. April 18. You can find details about this opportunity and how to apply here. And read what portfolio directors Theresa Deibele (Housing Opportunities), Jill Fuglister (Healthy Environment), Matt Morton (Equitable Education) and Dahnesh Medora (Building Community) have to share about the specifics of their respective portfolio opportunities.
We also invite you to join us in conversation. Over the next two weeks, our team will be holding in-person information sessions in communities across Oregon, as well as virtual sessions. Check out the schedule here and don't forget to RSVP so we can be sure to have a seat for you. During our in-person sessions, staff from all four portfolios will be on hand to provide information and answer your questions. This year, our virtual sessions will include one general session and several portfolio-specific sessions. And we are offering two new virtual sessions: one for folks interested in submitting a collaborative proposal (April 2) and one for arts and cultures organizations (April 6). We hope you will join us!
Much remains consistent with last year's annual funding opportunity, but if you have previously applied, you will notice a few changes this year. First, we listened to your feedback and have made some improvements to our application — thank you for the great suggestions! As examples, we have streamlined the demographic data we are requesting, re-ordered some sections so they are easier to navigate and reduced the number of attachments. Our Building Community and Equitable Education portfolios also look a little different, having refined their goals and outcomes to clarify what "fits," and we've added priority populations in some portfolios. We've also made modest changes to funding amounts for some types of grants and increased consistency in funding amounts across portfolios.
Keep a few things in mind as you consider applying:
We are looking for partners who demonstrate commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and want to continue to build their own capacity — in both the services they provide and their internal operations. Learn more about how we think about this here and here.
We value rural communities and our rural partners. We remain committed to supporting organizations and work across Oregon — last year, we funded organizations in 27 Oregon counties and work in every region of the state. Between 31 and 64 percent of each portfolio's funding supported projects that benefitted one or more rural communities.
New-to-Meyer organizations and small organizations are welcome. In fact, over 20 percent of 2017 grantees were organizations that had never before received a Meyer grant. And if you are a smaller organization, no need to be intimidated — remember that our grants come in a range of sizes and that we are happy to provide guidance about applying — just contact us at questions [at] mmt.org.
Different types of funding are available to meet your needs. Capacity building (including technical assistance), operating support, project support and, in some portfolios, capital construction dollars are available. Check the details for each portfolio and reach out if you have questions about what type or amount to apply for (if you are a smaller-budget organization, you can also read a helpful blog on "tipping" by my colleague Mijounga Chang).
Applying on behalf of a collaborative? We believe in the power of working together. If your collaborative meets our criteria, we have a specific application opportunity for you so you won't have to choose between applying for your own organization or applying on behalf of your collaborative. Learn more here and sign up for our virtual Collaborative information session on April 2.
Currently receiving Meyer grant funding? Be sure to contact your assigned Meyer team member to clarify whether you are eligible to apply to this funding opportunity. And if you are eligible but will have multiple active Meyer grants, seek guidance in determining your request amount.
The Initial Application is an important step in our process — don't wait until the last minute! Meyer's initial application is admittedly longer than a typical inquiry, and it is also a key stage of our process. Last year, we received over 600 Annual Funding Opportunity applications and only 34 percent were invited to move forward. So we suggest you start early and give it thoughtful attention. Make sure you are registered through and can access GrantIS, our online application portal, as it can take a few days to finalize. Read the application materials and peruse the Inquiry Application questions. Browse last year's Annual Funding Opportunity grant awards for the portfolio you are interested in and take a look at our Applicant Resources. Come to an information session and follow up with us if you still have questions. We want you to make an informed decision about whether to put the time into applying and, if you do, to put your best foot forward.
We look forward to seeing you soon, and we can't wait to learn more about the amazing work you are doing to make communities throughout Oregon places where everyone is seen, valued, supported and celebrated.
Supporting affordable housing, healthy watersheds & rural immigrants and refugees
Each year, the bulk of Meyer’s funding is awarded through an open annual funding opportunity. Our 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity will launch March 15. Please join us for one of our upcoming in-person or virtual information sessions to learn more about our vision and funding goals, and what we look for in our funding partnerships. You can see the schedule and RSVP for a session here. We look forward to connecting with you soon!
In the meantime, we are excited to share with you our January grantmaking: 39 grants totaling $2,251,017. These are grants made through our program initiatives, funder partnerships and other Meyer-directed awards. What an amazing way to kick off 2018!
This year, the Museum at Warm Springs is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a cultural treasure by hosting documents of the Treaty of 1855. Meyer is contributing to this unique and timely opportunity by providing $200,000 to support the museum in hosting the document and carrying out a year of programming centered on treaty rights. Stay tuned in the coming months to learn more about the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the museum’s anniversary events.
We also continue to engage in the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative alongside our partners at the Collins Foundation, MRG Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and Pride Foundation. In January, Meyer provided $26,000 in follow-on funding to the Rural Organizing Project for statewide organizing to defend and protect rural immigrants and refugees. Efforts include trainings, local inclusivity campaigns, rapid response infrastructure building, intervention with law enforcement and building support for statewide advocacy. January also marks a year of quick response grants addressing crucial and time-sensitive issues facing immigrants and refugees, most of which were made as part of this funder collaborative.
More than half of the funds awarded in January — $1.34 million — were through our Housing Opportunities portfolio, primarily to support our nonprofit housing partners in preserving and expanding much-needed affordable housing across the state. Grants included continued support for two longtime partners in our Affordable Housing Initiative for their important and unique roles in affordable housing preservation. These investments include $300,000 in the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing (NOAH) for coordination of the Oregon Housing Preservation Project, which preserves affordable housing and federal rent subsidies. Over the past 10 years of our partnership with NOAH, it has preserved 230 properties, representing 10,684 units across the state, the vast majority of which are rent assisted. It has also helped to retain $1.2 billion in rent subsidy and secure millions of state dollars to support affordable housing. We are also making a $220,000 investment in CASA of Oregon to continue supporting conversion of manufactured home communities into resident-owned cooperatives. To date, CASA has helped to convert 13 resident-owned parks, representing 827 homes. The vast majority of parks have preserved precious housing in rural Oregon communities.
As part of our Affordable Housing Initiative’s Sustaining Portfolios strategy, we awarded $360,000 to five housing organizations to implement property-specific portfolio preservation plans. These grants have wide reach across our state, supporting affordable housing preservation in Lincoln City, Roseburg, Bend and The Dalles, as well as Benton, Columbia, Jackson, Lane, Linn, Multnomah and Washington counties.
In support of new housing, we are pleased to have expanded our program-related investment with Community Housing Fund, which will provide important loan capital to finance affordable housing projects in Washington County and four adjacent counties. The $150,000 addition approved in January brings our total loan investment to $250,000. And we are excited to support Northwest Housing Alternatives with a $250,000 grant to help construct affordable family housing in central Milwaukie.
We remain so grateful for these organizations and our many other nonprofit partners for their work toward ensuring that every Oregonian has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.
Through our Healthy Environment portfolio, we awarded 11 grants totaling more than $436,500. Our Willamette River Initiative continued its investments in restoration, including $275,000 to support six watershed councils in their continued work toward 10-year restoration targets in the Calapooia, Long Tom Luckiamute, Marys River, and Middle Fork, North and South Santiam watersheds as part of our multi-funder model watershed program. Other Healthy Environment awards included $50,000 grants to Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project to help day laborers gain access to green job opportunities; Trust for Public Lands for mapping and analysis of Oregon communities based on their social, economic and environmental characteristics; and Columbia Land Trust to support diversity, equity and inclusion activities.
Two grants were made through our Building Community portfolio, including a $35,000 award to support Oregon Recovers' statewide community mapping process to identify service gaps in recovery support for rural and diverse Oregon populations and to generate policy improvement recommendations.
Stay tuned for our 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity launch in March — I hope to see you at one of Meyer’s information sessions. We look forward to exploring opportunities to work together in creating a vibrant Oregon where each and every one of us can truly thrive.