Announcing Our Funding Goals, Strategies and Grantmaking Plans for 2024

I was talking to a friend recently about the moments in our lives where we felt part of something bigger than ourselves, larger than one person or organization. It’s a magical feeling — when change seems tangible and progress feels possible. (Truthfully, when you work on complex movements like racial justice, these special moments can feel pretty rare.)

Today feels like a part-of-something-special moment for Meyer Memorial Trust.

Last year, we offered a high-level look at our progress: new funding priorities that better express our mission to accelerate racial, social and economic justice for Oregon’s lands and peoples. Today, we can announce the specific goals and strategies that will guide our three issue-based priority areas: Our Resilient Places, Our Empowered Youth and Our Collective Prosperity.

Through Our Resilient Places, we will support work that builds power and capacity for frontline communities, helps us transition toward more regenerative economic policies and practices and affirms BIPOC communities' connection to place.

Under Our Collective Prosperity, we will focus on closing Oregon’s persistent racial wealth gap, holistically supporting families and caretakers and creating a just and equitable path to homeownership.

In Our Empowered Youth, we’ll continue our work reforming the education system to create opportunities for our most marginalized students and support educators and decision-makers who reflect the diversity of our students.

To view the full scope of our goals and strategies, visit our updated programs page.

Our path to these goals

We are not under the illusion that it is the work of private foundations like Meyer to define what justice looks like. Rather, it is incumbent upon us, as part of the larger Oregon ecosystem, to follow the lead set by our grantees and partners.

That’s why our path to these goals and strategies included community-specific listening sessions, one-on-one interviews, robust literature reviews, panel presentations and more. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this process — especially our grantee partners for sharing your time, wisdom and expertise.

These new goals and strategies reflect what we heard from you about what our state needs and how we can move forward together.

An open call for proposals

I am excited to share that, in August, Meyer will hold an open call for proposals for these three portfolios with grantmaking funds totaling over $12 million. You’ve told us the value of reliable, unrestricted funding so we’re offering an option to apply for multi-year and general operating support grants. You can also apply for project-specific support or as part of a collaborative with other organizations. We will also continue to offer invite-only opportunities to groups working in the three portfolio areas.

(If your work falls outside these three portfolios, other Meyer funding will continue through our special initiatives.) We'll share more details about how to apply for the three portfolios in the coming weeks. In the meantime, sign up for our e-newsletter to ensure you’re getting the latest.

Hitting the road

We want to talk more about all of this in person. That’s why, this summer, my colleagues and I are hitting the road. Members of our team will be traveling across Oregon to meet with you and talk more about this funding opportunity and Meyer’s new focus. (We will also share this information through several virtual info sessions for folks who can’t meet us in person.)

We know that Meyer is just a small part of the larger work happening every day across our state and we’re excited to reconnect with organizations we’ve worked with for years and meet groups brand new to us. Our itinerary will be shared in the coming weeks.

Thank you

We know much has changed since Meyer’s last open call in the summer of 2021, while we were still at the height of the COVID pandemic. Most of us have returned to our offices, finding some semblance of a new normal. But we’ve also seen unprecedented attacks on racial justice, reproductive rights and the transgender community.  As the world has changed, so have we. We experienced shifts in our leadership and staff and, like many of our grantee organizations, we had to find a new footing — one rooted in the justice values of our new mission.

During this period, Meyer never slowed or reduced our grantmaking — which continued primarily through invitation-only grants, renewals and special initiatives. But still, we have been anxious to open a funding opportunity to new programs and partners. This is a big moment we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Thank you for partnering with us on this journey.

We can’t wait to see you soon,



Candice Jimenez of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and her daughter

Candice Jimenez of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs smiles at her daughter

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What Does Justice Require? At Meyer, a Multi-faceted Approach to Grantmaking

As you heard last month from Vice President of Impact, Kim Melton, Meyer has been working to build the strongest program strategy we can, incorporating a mix of community voice, staff expertise and research from those who are walking the same path as we are — towards justice. One outcome from our learning journey has been that we now have three issues-based portfolios; Our Empowered Youth, Our Collective Prosperity and Our Resilient Places.

But our understanding of how change happens in the world compels us to come at the work from different angles. In addition to investments in topical areas, we must also take approaches that expressly focus on the root causes of injustice and foster the conditions necessary for transformational change and healing.

Meyer’s strategic initiatives represent another layer to our overall funding strategy. We’ve grouped a number of our ongoing funding efforts in this area, including the Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative and the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative. Our developing work in the Together, We Rise and Our Shared Purpose focus areas also live under the strategic initiatives banner, along with our emerging funding framework to formalize support for tribal nations.

The funding in these areas is not entirely new, but I want to share more about how we view this work alongside and in addition to Meyer’s issues-based portfolios.

Justice demands redress and repair

If we are serious about racial justice in this country, then our work must include explicit strategies to lift up and support redress, repair and thriving for Black and Native communities.

The compounding impacts of genocidal violence, the theft of land and labor and other atrocities committed against African and Indigenous peoples continue to show up in disaggregated data for most life outcomes today.

This is why our Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative is focused exclusively on priorities identified by an advisory committee of Black community members. Also, respecting tribal sovereignty means that Native nations don’t need to “fit” into Meyer’s other topically focused strategies to access support that is, simply put, owed to them.

Our funding must also include explicit strategies to support integration, belonging and thriving for immigrant and refugee communities. That is why Meyer has been a leading member of the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funder Collaborative since its founding in 2016.

Oregon, and our nation, has always been and continues to be buoyed, sustained and enriched in myriad ways by the labor and countless other contributions of immigrants and refugees. This is despite being excluded from many opportunities and benefits and being alternately disregarded and vilified for political purposes.

Justice requires shifting power

Long-term power building for communities most impacted by injustice is also part and parcel of working for transformational change. That is why our Together, We Rise initiative will support leadership development, civic engagement, organizing, movement building and field infrastructure. The focus here isn’t on particular issues, but on the capacity for collective action of an interconnected progressive movement, led by impacted communities, to achieve and hold onto wins. There is an emphasis on healthy democracy in this initiative and intersectional work that cuts across issues. That’s evident in the work of grantees like Oregon Futures Lab, Basic Rights Oregon, Rural Organizing Project, Oregon Donor Alliance, and Intersect to name just a few.

Justice requires collaboration

Systems of oppression run on division and separation, so dismantling them will require many forms of coming together. This is true for neighbors, communities, movements and, yes, funders. That is why Meyer will look for opportunities to partner with philanthropic peers and cross-sector entities to work with Shared Purpose. We can each bring the best of our particular resources to bear so that the whole of our effort can be greater than the sum of our well-intentioned individual actions.

Those who follow our grantmaking closely will notice that the themes of Meyer’s initiatives — support for Black, Native and immigrant and refugee communities, long-term power-building, and partnerships and collaboration – show up across our portfolios as well. Of course! These are so key that we’re intentional about a multi-layered approach, combining dedicated and diffused support.

We are so excited to move forward with grantmaking in initiatives, which will be by invitation only this year. Next month, Director of Programs and Policy, Nancy Haque will share more about Meyer’s issue-focused portfolios, which will start taking applications in late summer.

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Sharing the Path on Our Journey Towards Justice

In his 1988 novel "Arrow of God,” Chinua Achebe quotes a well-known Igbo proverb that says “The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well, you do not stand in one place.”

He later talked about the power of that statement in Igbo culture, telling an interviewer that the masquerade represented all the motion of life — music, architecture, dance, writings, history, battle, politics — and that we must be ready and open to try something new.

“You are telling people not to get so deeply rooted in one thing that they don’t see the possibilities in change.”

Over the past seven months since I’ve joined the team at Meyer Memorial Trust, I’ve considered it a powerful opportunity to see my community and the possibilities to have a meaningful impact in new ways. After spending nearly 20 years in Portland as a journalist, non-profit advocate and leader in public policy and government, I have welcomed the opportunity to learn from each place I’ve been. It is critical to take the lessons from wherever we are — how to build policy and programs, how our success is intertwined with our community members and how moving with compassion, creativity and perseverance is vital.

That is the same attitude that we’ve taken at Meyer as we’ve sought to complete the redesign of our program portfolios and grantmaking strategy.

Just as important as where we land and what we focus on is what kind of path we are taking to get there and the voices guiding our journey. Taking the time to engage with our community members, leaders, grantees, partners, staff and the learnings from research have all been important parts of the process. Among the major themes that we’ve heard:

From community input sessions: A holistic approach

One key through-line was to see our families, neighbors and children in holistic ways — that it’s as important to build tools, strength and skills as it is to invest in belonging, healing and power for communities that have been consistently denied access and opportunity.

From our grantees: Deeper investments, deeper relationships

We heard consistently the need for sustainable investments that result in deeper capacity building, collaboration and leadership development.

From research with our peers: Advance policy change and implementation

The promising and proven practices around philanthropy’s contribution to positive community change requires a committed focus on policy, advocacy and systems change in balance with program support.

From our staff: Center community voices

The staff at Meyer who have walked in the field with grantees over the past years have richly contributed their learnings to our design as well, calling us to center first the voices of our community and let those insights anchor us.

I could go on listing recommendations and feedback, dreams and demands. What we’ve been doing and are continuing to do is build the strongest program strategy we can with racial, social and economic justice as our through-line and community impact as our goal. We are looking at areas of opportunity, insight, alignment and where we can push ourselves to do more.

In the upcoming months, Nancy Haque, director of programs and policy will share more details about our three portfolios organized by issue area: Our Empowered Youth, Our Collective Prosperity and Our Resilient Places.

In addition to funding across our portfolios, we have grantmaking that supports key initiatives — community specific and culturally specific efforts as well as partnerships and coalitions, and movement building investments. The overarching goal is to ensure our Oregon environment is one where those most impacted by decisions have the time, tools and support to be part of our democracy and help shape what Oregon will become. Next month, you’ll get to hear more about this work from Erin Dysart, managing director of strategic initiatives.

Our aim is to take all we’ve been learning and put it into action for our state. Later this summer, our team will be traveling around Oregon to share more information about our work, answer questions and be in community.

With hope,

— Kim

An abstract image of women dancing with a quote from author Chinua Achebe in white letters. “The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well you do not stand in one place.”


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Moving ahead as "One Meyer"

Two years ago, I accepted the opportunity of a lifetime. 

At the time, Meyer was in the process of living into its newly adopted mission to accelerate racial, social and economic justice. I set out to ensure that every part of Meyer works in service of this mission within my first few years in this role. From grantmaking and evaluation to internal operations and how we invest the endowment, we all needed to be pointed in one direction. I often referred to this direction as “One Meyer.”

Like all evolutions, reaching this goal has required a number of changes. For Meyer, these changes included creating a new internal structure and shifting our investment practice to an outsourced office. 

Impact Department

We have a newly-created Impact Department — three teams who will work to implement trust-based practices, learn from our grantees and share the outcomes of our grantmaking. Led by Vice President of Impact, Kim Melton, this department includes our program, communications, and learning and grant operations teams.  

As you know, we have been working diligently to define our new funding priorities — particularly for Our Resilient Places, Our Collective Prosperity and Our Empowered Youth. 

We recently welcomed a new cohort of senior program officers who offer deep expertise that will further our understanding of our state’s most pressing challenges in these three fields, as well as the most promising approaches to overcoming them. I’m excited to work with and learn from Huy Ong, Maribel de León and Michael Reyes as we round the corner on completing our strategic plan for grantmaking. We look forward to announcing the goals we hope our grantmaking will achieve and the strategies we plan to fund to reach them.  

Building out the capacity of our communications team is important to me, not just for our own internal purposes, but to provide additional resources to amplify the phenomenal work of our grantees. And so, we’re delighted to welcome Senior Digital Communications Manager Tyler Quinn to help us do just that. 

Please join me in welcoming Huy, Maribel, Michael and Tyler to the Meyer team. 

Mission-Aligned Investing

Meyer has long been ahead of the field in terms of deploying all our resources in ways that mirror our values. Along the way, we hired diverse talent to manage our endowment and adopted an investment policy statement that pushes us to utilize our endowment to help achieve our mission.  

And after 42 years of managing our portfolio primarily through in-house staff, our trustees have decided to use an outsourced investment office to help ensure we can meet the challenge of investing in ways that accelerate justice. We are excited to partner with the investment firm, RockCreek, on this important endeavor. 

As one of the world’s largest woman-owned investment firms, RockCreek brings decades of experience in mission-aligned investing. Vice President of Investments and Finance, Sohel Hussain will work closely with RockCreek to align our endowment with our new mission, all while delivering returns. 

This new partnership will help us to expand the impact Meyer can make in Oregon and beyond.

A heartfelt thank you

Getting to this place has taken the tireless efforts of Meyer staff — our new staff, our longtime leaders and those who have since moved on. Their collective experience, knowledge and relationships have helped light our path as we continue our justice journey. Thank you all. 

In addition, we have a number of new titles and responsibilities for many of our current staff. Much appreciation to all those who have taken on new or reconfigured roles over the last several months. 

What’s next

It’s important to remember that amidst all the changes, our staff has continued to make powerful and meaningful investments throughout Oregon. In this fiscal year, we granted nearly $45 million to organizations doing incredible work.  

It is an honor and privilege to support work that impacts the lives of so many Oregonians.

Soon, we will share the big, hairy, audacious and inspiring goals we hope to achieve in Meyer’s new funding priorities, along with the specific strategies we plan to fund to help meet those goals. Our goals are long-term, population-level changes and we fully understand that it will take time to see and feel any results. We will measure our progress in decades, not in yearly grant application renewals. 

Furthermore, just as we are working to meet our own mission, we aim to fund grantees like we want them to meet their missions. Thus, we plan to write fewer, bigger checks, support the general operations of our grantees and walk alongside them to help find ways to support their work beyond writing checks. We will fund work happening in communities, support movement building and engage in changing the systems that make programs necessary in the first place. 

This is a lot of change to take on all at once. I call this Meyer’s ‘everything, everywhere, all at once’ evolution. I have to say, I am more excited today than when I agreed to take on this awesome responsibility. 

Here we go!

— Toya

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An aerial photo of the Columbia Gorge on a sunny day.

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Meyer’s 2023 Grantmaking by the Numbers

Meyer aims to accelerate racial, social and economic justice for the collective well-being of Oregon’s lands and peoples. But what does that look like in practice?

As a member of our Learning and Grant Operations team, I help administer, manage, and track our grantmaking. As a lover of data and the stories it can tell, I wanted to break down our 2023 funding and share some highlights.


2023 at a Glance

In 2023, Meyer awarded over $38.5 million in total funding and issued 350 grants.


What communities did our grants serve?

  • 89% of our 2023 funding went to projects or organizations serving BIPOC communities.
  • 27% went to projects or organizations serving rural Oregonians.
  • 24% went to projects or organizations serving immigrants and refugees.
  • 24% went to projects or organizations serving children and youth.
  • 16% went to projects or organizations serving the LGBTQ+ community.

Because so many of the organizations we fund work intersectionally, some grants could appear in multiple categories (e.g., a grant serving both BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities would appear in both figures.)


Where did we fund?

  • Nearly half (46%) of our total funding went to grants serving the whole state of Oregon.
  • Almost one-third (32%) of our grants served the Portland metro area.
  • More than one-fifth (22%) of our grants targeted specific counties outside Portland metro.


Funding highlights

  • $9.4 million of Meyer’s 2023 funding went to youth development, education and teachers.
  • In 2023, Meyer funded 45 organizations for the first time with over $3.7 million offered to first-time grantees. Many of these new grantees serve Oregon’s Black and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities.
  • $8 million supported public policy, civic engagement and leadership development.
  • Meyer made eight Emergency Response Grants for a total of nearly $400,000 to help organizations in urgent need. (We were typically able to release this funding in less than a week)
  • $2 million went to agriculture, food sovereignty, fishing, forestry and clean energy.


As someone born and raised in Portland, I love this place and feel a deep connection to the communities and landscapes of Oregon. Like so many of my colleagues at Meyer, I am hopeful that, in the years to come, we can do even more to engage with, learn from and support organizations tackling inequities and disparities across the state.

I invite folks who are interested in learning more about Meyer's grantmaking data to reach out to me at grantops [at] (grantops[at]mmt[dot]org).

A horizontal bar chart showing the communities served by Meyer's 2023 grants

A high-level look at the communities served by Meyer's 2023 grants.

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Center for Great Purposes Opens for Reservations

I am excited to announce that we now offer a free event space to all current grantees! Located on the first floor of Meyer Headquarters, the Center for Great Purposes is a welcoming space where grantee organizations can hold meetings, trainings, coalition gatherings and more.

Organizations with an active Meyer grant may reserve the space and enjoy its many amenities from a built-in AV system and garden access, to a catering entrance and kitchen. The space accommodates up to 100 guests, depending on room configuration.

In Service to Our Partners

For the past few months, we’ve softly rolled out this event space and have been overjoyed with the turnout. As more organizations utilize this space, we want to learn alongside the community and welcome feedback to improve our services.

Access to this event space serves as an additional resource beyond grantmaking to support more connections and convenings across the nonprofit sector. To make long-lasting impact, we know that in-person interactions strengthen bonds and deepen understanding. Meyer is here to facilitate that. We want everyone who walks through these doors to feel like they belong here and know that we're here to help them achieve their goals.

Designed with Community in Mind

Meyer’s presence in the Albina neighborhood is an intentional investment in a community with deep ties to Black Portlanders. Every aspect of the building’s design is meant to highlight the strengths and rich cultural history of this place.

We partnered with architects, contractors and subcontractors who identified as Black, Indigenous and people of color. Artwork by artists of color adorn the halls, native plants pepper the garden and sustainably sourced Oregon wood products are featured throughout our award-winning, LEED v4 Platinum building. It was important that Meyer HQ reflect our values visibly and create a space of joy and belonging for community members to connect, empower and grow with one another.

The building honors the past while looking towards the future.

When I first began my career at Meyer, I was a front desk receptionist answering calls about grant opportunities. I felt like I was on a mission to help get partners everything they needed. Eight years in, that sentiment is even stronger.

Now, I have the privilege of managing a team dedicated to nurturing community partnerships. Our newest Office Operations team member, Saylor Eames, joins Meyer as our first Events Coordinator and I’m certain she will continue providing excellent support to each and every person who enters our building.

“I’m so excited to join Meyer and continue serving the community,” Eames says. “Partnering with local nonprofits and supporting their mission has always been a dream of mine, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together in the Center for Great Purposes!”

Accelerating Lasting Impact

Learn more about the Center for Great Purposes and send a reservation request on our website. With great purpose comes great impact and we are thrilled to support grantee partners who are creating lasting change in Oregon.

Photo of the Center for Great Purposes entrance at Meyer HQ

The Center for Great Purposes entrance at Meyer HQ

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Collaborative Calls for Proposals to Build Power for Immigrant, Refugee Communities

The Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative (OIRFC) is releasing a new call for proposals to support work that builds power and achieves lasting reforms for immigrant and refugee communities in Oregon.

A joint effort between The Collins Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust, the OIRFC will grant a total of $625,000 to organizations and coalitions who are in the advanced stages of movement building. Most of the grants to organizations and coalitions will be in the $100,000 to $200,000 range for up to two years.

Evolving Needs Over a Decade of Collaboration

Established in 2012, the OIRFC began as a way to support applicants enrolling in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA. The work of the collaborative has morphed over time to respond to emerging and emergency needs. Since 2017, funding has helped to counter the negative impacts of federal anti-immigration policies. In 2021, more than $1.2 million was granted to help resettle Afghan evacuees who found themselves in legal limbo in the aftermath of the U.S. government’s rapid and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Last fall, the OIRFC engaged in conversations with grantees and stakeholders from 14 organizations to consider how the collaborative could better meet the needs of the communities they serve. Representatives included social services providers, legal service providers, culturally specific organizations, and statewide advocates and organizers.

While the group affirmed that support for basic needs and access to legal services continues to be important, it also recognized that establishing legal residency is just the beginning of the journey towards full inclusion and belonging in Oregon. The group identified a need for funding that helps to better mobilize, leverage and scale the collective impact of the immigrant and refugee community over the long term.

By focusing on movement building efforts in this next funding round, the collaborative hopes to catalyze and sustain the longer-term and transformational changes that advance social, political, economic and environmental justice.

Application Details 

This latest funding opportunity will be focused on funding for organizations and coalitions that are already engaged in movement building work that falls in the later stages as defined in the We Rise Cycles of Movement Building.

Organizations that work to address basic needs, wraparound services and legal support are invited to review and apply to the OIRFC’s general funding opportunity, which has a rolling deadline.

More information and application details are here. The deadline to apply is December 6, 2023.

— Mike

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Kimberly Melton will join Meyer as Vice President of Impact

Meyer Memorial Trust is excited to announce that Kimberly Melton will join us as our first vice president of impact. The newly-created role will oversee Meyer’s strategic implementation, specifically the work of its programs, evaluation, grant operations and communications staff.

Melton has more than a decade of experience leading teams and complex projects, working alongside stakeholders to build community-wide plans. As chief of staff to former Multnomah County Chair, Deborah Kafoury, she was responsible for developing the office’s overall policy agenda, overseeing the county’s policy offices, special projects and budget process. She also coordinated the County’s COVID-19 Policy Leadership Team to support decision-making on key issues through the pandemic, including mandates, new initiatives, partnerships, equity policies and locations for community testing and vaccinations.

As a senior advisor, Melton also led policy initiatives to transform the county’s investments in immigration, youth programs and culturally specific services.

Melton and Meyer CEO, Toya Fick met in 2012 at educational advocacy nonprofit Stand for Children. Melton was the state communications and regional organizing director and Fick was the state government affairs director.

“I have been in awe of Kim's brilliance, warmth and passion for community since the day we met," Fick said. "Kim had covered the Legislature as a journalist and was a veteran of state policy and politics. As a newcomer to Oregon politics, I spent the better part of our time together learning as much as humanly possible from her.

Her breadth of accomplishments, intelligence and lived experience uniquely position her to take on this role. Her approach to community transformation is rooted in building relationships, collaboration and leading from a place of grace and integrity.”

Melton began her professional career as a journalist in New Orleans, Louisiana and joined The Oregonian in 2004, where she covered education, state government and politics.

As a board member at Social Venture Partners, a venture philanthropy organization, she served on a team of staff and stakeholders that launched the community efforts to bring preschool to all children in Multnomah County. She was also part of the Oregon Community Foundation’s Metro Leadership Council for six years and served on the team that launched Oregon’s Black Student Success Project and the GoKids! program.

Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Melton cites her father as an inspiration and influence.

“Though my Dad worked at a hotel by day, in the evenings and on weekends, he was also a community organizer for churches focused on social justice causes,” Melton said. “Sitting in the back of church fellowship halls watching their work helped me understand the power of listening to community voices, working across boundaries and belief systems to create real change and doing so grounded in grace, service and justice.“

Melton holds a Masters in Journalism from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelors in African and African American Studies from Stanford University.

She starts work at Meyer on Sept. 27.

A portrait of Kimberly Melton, VP Impact at Meyer Memorial Trust

Kimberly Melton, Meyer's new Vice President of Impact

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Celebrating Oregon's Legislative Wins

It’s been a couple of months since the 2023 Legislative Session wrapped up. Despite the session’s bumpy trajectory caused in large part by the longest lawmaker walkout in Oregon’s history, we found lots to celebrate in the slate of new laws passed to address Oregon’s most pressing challenges.

Portfolio Director Jill Fuglister shares how the new legislation aligns with Meyer’s own understanding of how investments in our community, environment and the economy can work in concert to advance change. You can also review direct links to legislative summaries produced by our partners at the end of this post.

From your point of view, are there any themes to highlight that were of particular interest to you this session or that align particularly well with Meyer’s mission focus or future direction?

I think the bills that offer what we call cross-cutting impact - meaning they solve multiple challenges at once and/or deliver numerous co-benefits across issues is a pretty prominent theme. At Meyer we’ve been talking and thinking a lot about the interrelationships of the problems we aim to solve, so to see legislation that reflects and can work to address that complexity is really exciting.

Can you share an example?

Of course! There’s a set of climate and clean energy bills that passed that we refer to as the climate resilience package. Collectively, it puts $90 million towards increasing the use of things like heat pumps, solar panels, clean energy storage, electric trucks and buses - with an emphasis on reaching communities with the greatest needs. Also the creation of community resilience hubs which will make energy efficiency and clean energy more affordable, and support the build-out of microgrids and sequestering carbon in forests and farms.

The package offers the opportunity to support climate resilient landscapes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they also help to generate wealth building opportunities through investment in new businesses, entrepreneurship and workforce development to support decarbonizing our economy and infrastructure.

It also puts Oregon in a position to tap into the trillions of new federal investments available from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, both of which are underpinned by a commitment to racial equity.

A lot of the challenges that are being addressed through legislation are obviously issue areas that Meyer has also been directing funding to. Can you share more about the relationship between this latest legislation and Meyer’s grantmaking?

One of the aspirations for Meyer’s future grantmaking is to de-silo our programs and work more collaboratively with other funders and across sectors to achieve cross-cutting impact. We believe this approach is central to building more holistic solutions that can consistently advance justice goals, while also supporting what’s needed to be in right relationship with nature. So in that sense, it’s heartening to see that lawmakers also recognize that taking an integrated approach to complex challenges is a smart strategy.

Can you explain what you mean by “right relationship with nature” and why that’s important?

Well, I think it starts with recognizing that we’ve been socialized and schooled over many generations to break things down and split problems, ideas and solutions into discrete pieces to understand the world around us. Yet this separation of different communities and people from nature as well as ignoring the relationships between the two, is a root cause of oppression, racism and extractive capitalism and the far-reaching, multi-generational harm they have caused.

To achieve systems change and overcome the shortcomings of focusing on problems in isolated ways, we must build an intelligence that centers interdependence and networks of relationships between issues, communities and ecosystems. Without this necessary shift, our progress toward a just and flourishing future for all will continue to be incremental and incomplete.

Any cautionary tales from that more isolated approach that you’d want to highlight?

I think what’s unfolding in the Housing Production Advisory Council is a timely example. The council is responsible for developing a plan to address Oregon’s critical housing shortage which is, of course, a laudable goal that I support, but there are also some concerning recommendations that are emerging, especially those that propose to set aside environmental protections in an effort to more quickly build new housing.

If these ideas move forward, it could mean building new housing in wetlands and floodplains, areas that will experience more frequent and severe floods as a result of climate change. It could also mean setting aside tree planting requirements, a vitally needed source of shade and cooling in our rapidly warming climate as well as a cornerstone of urban wildlife habitat. I’m worried that those who will be most harmed by this are the same folks who are already vulnerable in the face of the climate crisis and Oregon’s affordable housing crisis; communities of color, tribes and other historically marginalized communities. So I hope to see the Council course correct soon to avoid these unintended consequences.

Thank you, Jill! Any final thoughts?

I’m thinking about what happens after legislation is passed, the implementation of the policy successes of our partners. We know that they often struggle to find the resources they need to stay engaged over the long haul to ensure their hard fought wins get implemented well. This gritty work of slogging through creating new regulations, rules and responsibilities is where the rubber meets the road on policy and needs the same kind of vigilance to bring good ideas to fruition in communities. It’s yet another example of what it means to think about the whole picture, interdependence and relationships, and work in a way that reflects this.


Legislative Summaries from our Partners


Beyond Toxics

Basic Rights Oregon + news article

Children’s Institute

Climate Solutions

Coalition of Communities of Color

Foundations for a Better Oregon

NextUp Oregon


Oregon Center for Public Policy

Our Children Oregon

Rural Organizing Project

Unite Oregon

Urban League

Have another summary you’d like us to add? Please share it via email to: communications [at] (communications[at]mmt[dot]org).

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State Capitol Building, Salem, Oregon. Stock image.

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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.

What’s Next?

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.

In Service,

— Toya

Educators of color in Oregon

Educators of color sing during a mindfulness activity at the 2023 Oregon Collective Summit

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