From Equity to Justice: Meyer’s New Funding Priorities
“Realizing as I do the uncertainties of the future, I want my trustees to be able to exercise broad discretion in shaping and carrying out charitable programs which can be tailored to fit changing conditions and problems."
When Fred G. Meyer established what we now know today as Meyer Memorial Trust, he offered what I consider to be a brilliant invitation — to think expansively and creatively about how to best address the greatest societal challenges of our time. Thanks to Mr. Meyer’s vision, we have been given the freedom to dream big from our very inception.
As the fourth person to lead this organization in its more than 40-year history, I benefit from the imagination and foresight of my predecessors. I am grateful for the work of Doug Stamm, who set Meyer on a path towards a vision of an equitable and flourishing Oregon, and for Michelle DePass, who built on that effort, pushing for a bold response to Oregon’s founding as a whites-only utopia. Through her leadership and with board support, we resolved to center communities of color in 2021, recognizing that eliminating race-based disparities was central to our collective dream of community well-being.
As a Trustee at Meyer for six years prior to my appointment as CEO, I’m so proud to have been a part of our evolution from equity towards an explicit commitment to racial, social and economic justice.
I’m especially grateful for the conversations Meyer has had with Oregon’s diverse communities, for the continuing wisdom gained through our launch of the Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative, and all that we’ve learned through a robust strategic planning process.
While we have never stopped grantmaking throughout this time, we know that grant seekers have been waiting patiently to find out what all of this listening, learning and planning will mean for them in practice moving forward.
Familiar Issues, A New Way Forward
Those who are familiar with Meyer will recognize that many of the issue areas we funded in the past continue to be represented in Meyer’s new funding priorities.
Ultimately, we are working towards an Oregon that supports and advances:
Our Empowered Youth
Where our children have access to a fully resourced education that helps them to realize their highest ambitions.
Our Collective Prosperity
Where everyone is able to support themselves, their families and their communities while building wealth for the next generation.
Our Resilient Places
Where we care for our natural and built environments in ways that are rooted in culture and community.
Woven into our collective vision of the future is the belief that:
Together, We Rise. We all benefit when we ensure organizations are effective and have the capacity to fulfill their missions, support strong networks of leaders of color and build community capacity to advocate for systems change.
In addition, we aim to deepen our focus and impact by increasing dedicated support for funder partnerships that serve Our Shared Purpose.
These last two funding areas, Together, We Rise and Our Shared Purpose, are key aspects of our new approach to funding. By working in coordination with peer funders, our business community and government, Meyer believes it can more fully leverage its resources towards efforts that improve the lives of Oregonians today and for generations to come.
I’ll be in conversation with many of you about Meyer’s new approach to grantmaking over the next few months, with special attention to learning more about where we might collaborate and partner.
Our program team continues to move dollars out the door through continuation grants and other means. We plan to share our open call application and guidance later this year. See our FAQ for more information and sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.
I am tremendously excited about the journey we are on and I am extending the invitation, as our founder did more than 40 years ago, to dream and think big with us.
Educators of color sing during a mindfulness activity at the 2023 Oregon Collective Summit