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

An aerial view of the Columbia gorge on a bright, sunny day.

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

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Oregon Leaders You Should Know: Alyshia Alohalani Macaysa-Feracota

As the executive director of the Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition (OPIC), Alyshia Alohalani Macaysa-Feracota approaches movement building through a healing lens, drawing upon Indigenous wisdom and practices. Through her leadership and strong relationships with Pacific Islanders across the state, several community-driven initiatives continue to gain momentum for large-scale systems change. We sat down with Macaysa-Feracota to learn more about her journey and vision.

What inspires you?

I think back to my experience growing up a lot. I grew up in southeast San Diego, about 15 minutes above the Mexican-American border. And I grew up with a ton of other kids of color. Even as young kids, we were having these conversations about how we felt left behind in a lot of ways. I noticed that contrast a lot for myself as a high academic performer.

When George W. Bush launched ‘No Child Left Behind,’ administrators wanted to relocate me to another school 45 minutes away where the students were all white. In conversations with other kids I grew up with, we’d ask, ‘Why is it that we have to leave our own neighborhoods to go off and do something else?’

Even efforts like this that were meant to bring positive change, those types of things didn't really touch us, even though they're meant to serve us. So I’ve always carried those experiences in a lot of the work that I do.

How have those early experiences influenced your perspective on systems change?

As I got older, I had the chance to work on several community initiatives, and one of my first jobs out of college was working with a national public health policy organization. I learned a lot of brilliant things there, but again I thought about my younger self and the kids in my neighborhood and asked, ‘Will this touch the lives of the folks we’re actually talking about?’

So a big part of my work has always been bringing the folks that we intend to serve directly into the process – training our community members up so they can be part of policy conversations meant to serve them and reframing things for government or agencies of Western power to understand the wisdom that already exists in the community.

What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?

I would say building the Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition. It's very significant for me as a Native Hawaiian and a Pacific Islander more broadly, particularly one who grew up in diaspora.

I left Hawaii when I was about five years old. Not having the grounding of growing up in my own land or community and then not being surrounded by my own language and practice, I felt the hole that left in who I was as an Indigenous kid. Being invited into the coalition has been a huge healing experience for me.

When elders and other community leaders approached me and said, ‘Can you steward the building of this coalition for Pacific Islander unity and self-determination?’ It was a really humbling experience. I could go off and list the different policies and initiatives that we've launched, but I think the biggest accomplishment is being able to build this trusting network amongst Pacific Islanders.

Which victories has OPIC won through community-led movements?

As Indigenous people, we approach our work from a healing lens, rethinking how data and research can be tools for healing through telling more authentic stories. We’ve produced tremendous things – like the Pacific Islander Data Modernization Report and the House Bill for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Students Success Act – in such a short amount of time because we took the time to build relationships with each other.

The outcomes came from the collective vision of the coalition. When we center relationships and healing, the outcomes and deliverables are far more rich and meaningful.

What is your ultimate vision for Pacific Islander communities in Oregon and what needs to be done to get there?

I would love to move us towards this vision of having Pacific Islanders know that we can center self-determination and Indigenous self-actualization without compromising our cultural values. There's a ton of Pacific Islander work happening in the state. Being able to share OPIC's experiences with other Pacific Islanders and show them that there is a way to step into 501c3 status in a way that makes sense to us.

We need to amplify conversations about the deeper history around API as a system and how it's erased a lot of us and how that doesn't necessarily make sense at times for the things we want to do as Indigenous people. On the same line, how do we bring greater consciousness to funders, to government agencies, to the racial equity community to make sure we’re included in spaces to inform these decisions?

We lead with Indigenous wisdom. We lead with Indigenous practice.

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Alyshia Alohalani Macaysa-Feracota at an OPIC event

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In East Multnomah County, a Focus on Healing

Four groups are organizing a multifaceted approach to healing in East Multnomah County. Unite Oregon, Keep Growing Seeds, Black Economic Collective and The BIPOC Rise Moor Healing Center are bringing together nearly 1,000 community members to assess the viability of a Black wellness center.

These organizations comprise one of 14 collectives funded in the latest round of grants by Justice Oregon for Black Lives, Meyer Memorial Trust’s $25 million initiative co-created in 2020 with Black communities working to advance racial justice and equity.

Seeking to counteract Oregon’s traumatic legacy of erasure, displacement and exploitation, this collective brings a diverse set of perspectives and missions to healing Black communities. With experience ranging from movement building to food sovereignty, members envision a Black wellness center focused on self-sufficiency, skill building, therapies and more.

If their plan comes to fruition, the center could become a beacon for residents in East County where the Black population is increasing, largely due to displacement from rising housing costs in Portland’s urban core. East County comparatively lacks basic infrastructure like sidewalks, parks and natural areas. The collective intends to invest in this neighborhood with much-needed resources.

“An abundance of meticulous and thoughtful consideration has been implemented to provide this Black wellness center to East County,” Durrell Javon Kinsey Bey, co-founder of The BIPOC Rise Moor Healing Center, says. “Not as a fad but as a mechanism of hope and prosperity toward sustainability and self-sufficiency for Black people.”

Healing as a Catalyst for Flourishing Black Communities

When Justice Oregon was established, a steering committee of Black community members identified addressing trauma and healing as a core goal of the initiative. Plans for the wellness center fall firmly within this priority area.

“We heard that we can't have things like economic justice or investments in education without a strong foundation for healing in the Black community,” says Allister Byrd, Justice Oregon for Black Lives program officer.

For Je Amaechi, Unite Oregon’s reimagining community safety manager, the center could be the next Greenwood District or even New Nanny Town (now Moore Town).

“Healing is not an endpoint,” says Amaechi, whose Jamaican heritage and abolitionist principles shape their values. “To really get at the root level, we have to work on healing ourselves and healing each other. Then we’re able to work toward advocacy and collective action.”

Cultivating Black Joy into the Planning Process

To determine if a wellness center of this kind would be impactful, the collective is asking communities directly for their input. But, true to their values, they are prioritizing Black joy and healing throughout the planning process. By offering participants support for immediate needs as well as access to Black therapists, educational opportunities and more, the collective hopes to create a space of safety and comfort.

“These gatherings won’t be traditional meetings,” Kristin Teigen, Unite Oregon’s grants associate, says. “Simply by participating in the needs assessment process, community members will be able to access multiple modes of healing.”

To further their reach, the collective is partnering with two additional organizations with deep ties to immigrant and refugee communities from across the Black and African diaspora, Emanuel Displaced Persons Association 2 (EDPA2) and African Holistic Health Family Organization.

“Not only is [this project] long overdue for East County but for people of African descent,” Kinsey Bey says. “This is well deserving to make strides in the path of karmic reconciliation, moral rejuvenation and above all social equity.”

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Grantmaking Staff Share Noteworthy Grants of 2023

A portrait of Nancy Haque 

Nancy Haque
Director of Policy and Programs

“I think some of the most meaningful grants Meyer made in 2023 weren’t the biggest; they were the ones where we were responding to a crisis in the community. Being able to reach out to an organization and say, 'Hey, I see this is happening. I see how your organization is trying to help. How about we get you some support?' was incredibly moving to me as a grantmaker. We were able to do that for PCUN after a tragic car accident took the lives of 11 farm workers. And then, again, during the Portland teacher's strike, we were able to support IRCO, SEI, Latino Network and Boys and Girls Club which were providing meals to students. Having spent the majority of my career in nonprofits, it would have made me feel so seen for a funder to understand our work at a level where they would reach out to us like that. It feels like a dream come true to make it happen for our grantees.”


A portrait of Helen Wong

Helen Wong
Director of Learning and Grant Operations

“In 2023, I’m particularly proud that Meyer invested in first-time grantees building Pacific Island and Southeast Asian communities. (Great examples include the Oregon Pacific Islander Coalition, Hmong American Community of Oregon and Filipino Bayanihan Center.) This investment is a direct result of hearing from community leaders about the invisibilization of the “AAPI” label and a request to be more nuanced in how we approach funding. We recognize that Southeast Asian and Pacific Island communities have faced historic underinvestment across all philanthropy, including Meyer. At the same time, we acknowledge these vibrant communities are integral to Oregon. I was particularly touched by the care and thought the partners gave to connecting elder and youth generations and wish I had access to these types of programs as a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest.”


A portrait of Allister Byrd

Allister Byrd
Program Officer, Justice Oregon for Black Lives

“Last year, Justice Oregon for Black Lives leaned into funding partnerships and coalition-based work to prompt long-term change. We knew there would be some new partnerships formed because of the funding opportunity, but that there was already lots of collaboration happening within the Black community. One partnership I got to experience firsthand was the Oregon Black Pioneer’s Letitia Carson exhibit at The Center Powered By Y.O.U.TH in Gresham. The Letitia Carson Legacy Project is a partnership between Black Oregon Land Trust, Oregon Black Pioneers, the Linn Benton NAACP, Mudbone Grown, and Oregon State University. The interactive exhibit (complete with a historical reenactor acting as Leticia Carson at the opening reception!) detailed the life of one of the first Black women to settle in Oregon and helped the students at Y.O.U.T.H place themselves in the larger context of Black history in Oregon. It’s a really cool project that bridges the past and the future.”


A portrait of Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips
Program Associate, Our Resilient Places

“The grant that is top of mind for me — after the recent cold snap (the worst I’ve ever experienced in my time in Oregon) — is an operating grant we made to Community Energy Project. They provide deep home energy retrofits for low-income households in the Portland area. These retrofits can include everything from insulation and efficiency upgrades to switching homes from fossil fuel heat sources, all while saving clients money on utility bills and making homes healthier and more comfortable. Community Energy Project also does critical advocacy work in solidarity with their clients. In 2023, they served on nine committees and coalitions dedicated to climate justice and equitable energy policies while also working at the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The winter storms, summer heat waves and wildfires in recent years have made climate change hit home more viscerally for all of us. I’m happy Meyer is supporting groups like Community Energy Project that are leading the way toward a more just energy future.”


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Sally Yee
Program Officer, Together We Rise

“Ensuring safe workplaces and protecting workers’ rights may seem like straightforward work, simple even. It is anything but that. For more than 20 years, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project (NWJP) has been working mostly behind the scenes to work on behalf of Oregon's most vulnerable worker communities. They have had to earn the trust of workers who routinely experience workplace abuse, risk employer retaliation for raising these issues and have no guarantee that speaking up will make any difference. NWJP and its organizers earn the trust of workers so they can provide them with the support they need to confront workplace issues; trust that laws can be made to work in their interest and effectively use their voices to ensure their workplaces are safe, their rights are respected, and their humanity is honored. The word ‘awesome’ comes to mind when I think about all they do and I’m so glad Meyer was able to support their work in 2023.”


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Erin Dysart
Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives

"Is it cheating if I highlight one grant that will actually be a whole collection of grants? Because I'm excited about our growing collaboration with Pride Foundation, the only LGBTQ+ community foundation serving a five state region in the Northwest. In 2023, Meyer committed to partnering with Pride Foundation to co-fund the upcoming round of their community grants in Oregon. These grants provide critical support to small, grassroots, LGBTQ+ led and focused organizations, especially outside of metro areas. Pride Foundation nurtures its deep network of trusting relationships across the state (reaching many groups that Meyer does not), which allows them to get resources where they are needed -- into the hands of folks within the LGBTQ+ community who are most harmed by systemic injustices like racism, xenophobia, ableism and transphobia. I'm inspired by Pride Foundation's intersectional, community-centered, and proactive approach to grantmaking, and I'm thrilled about what this kind of partnership can make possible."


A portrait of Violeta Alverez Lucio

Violeta Alvarez Lucio
Program Associate, Our Collective Prosperity

“In 2023, Meyer partnered with Oregon Collective Summit (OCS) leaders, Bekah Sabzalian and Andre Goodlow, to co-host two summits that brought together hundreds of multigenerational educators of color. These events provided much-needed space of connection, learning and celebration. I attended OCS for the first time in the fall and felt proud of Meyer’s ongoing commitment to supporting this work. At the event, the student panel shed light on the positive impact that teacher pathway programs have for students and aspiring educators of color. One of these programs that Meyer supported separately in 2023 is the University of Oregon’s Sapsik’ʷałá Teachers Education program. It’s a tuition-free initiative that ‘collaborates with all Nine Federally Recognized Sovereign Indian Nations of Oregon and the UOTeach master’s program to deliver a pathway for Indigenous people to become teachers within their communities.’ It provides financial resources, mentorship and spaces where the cultural identity of aspiring educators is valued and celebrated.”


A portrait of Molly Gray

Molly Gray
Program Associate, Strategic Initiatives

“I would love to highlight a grant Meyer made this year to support the Oregon Futures Lab Education Fund. OFL focuses on seeking, supporting and sustaining BIPOC community leaders and elected officials. I am particularly excited about one of their signature programs: Care for Disruptive Leaders. This program recognizes the unique challenges faced by BIPOC leaders in public political spaces — such as harassment, doxxing, and threats — along with all the systemic barriers in place to exclude them from running for office. Care for Disruptive Leaders provides time, space and resources to help tackle these issues, reducing burnout and lengthening the tenure of BIPOC folx leadership positions. We need a diverse, leaderful movement to face the multifaceted challenges of our time, build solidarity and power across communities and manifest OFL’s vision of a racially just Oregon. These leaders deserve safety and rest in addition to the logistical support, training and mentorship that OFL provides.”

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Members of Meyer's program team reflect on our 2023 grantmaking.

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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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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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Tracking our Progress

At Meyer, we talk often about our accountability to communities. That commitment is shown most plainly in how we distribute our grantmaking dollars each year, especially to work that supports those who are furthest away from opportunity.

I am proud to report that our last fiscal year of grantmaking, we have continued to make good on our promises, with nearly $23 million dollars awarded to organizations advancing racial, social and economic justice in Oregon. (An additional $22 million was distributed through grant renewals and other prior commitments.) Overall:

81% of Meyer’s 283 grant awards were dedicated to BIPOC-led or serving organizations.

93% of Meyer’s total grantmaking dollars went to BIPOC-serving organizations.

As we celebrate Pride this month, I also want to share that $3.7 million or 16% of our total grantmaking dollars went to organizations led by or serving the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

We are also completing our transition to a new grants management system this year, which will improve our ability to understand our community-specific awards data in increasingly nuanced ways.

General Operating, First Time Awardees

In addition to dollars we track for culturally specific areas of work, it’s important that we continue to evolve our grantmaking to better meet the needs of our grantees. Last fiscal year, 36% of our funding or $8.2 million was dedicated to general operating support so that organizations have the freedom and agency to do their best work. As we move forward, I anticipate that Meyer will continue to increase our funding for general operating support.

Meyer has also worked to catalyze new and innovative efforts with funding to 70 first-time awardees. Many of those were funded through the highly participatory, community-informed approach of our Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative. I expect to share more about how their work is impacting Oregonians in the months ahead.

Taking our Own Test

As part of our continuing work to align our internal and external commitment to equity, I recently took the time to assess Meyer on its own Diversity Equity and Inclusion Spectrum Tool. Created in 2019 by Meyer staff, the tool has been used by thousands of Meyer grantees and other organizations across the country to assess organizational progress on DEI-related policies and practices.

I was surprised and humbled to find that my own assessment of Meyer’s progress put us somewhere between “Launched” and “Well on the Way.”

I asked the staff to take the same assessment, hoping I had been unduly harsh. The result was essentially the same. As we have told other organizations many times, the path towards equity is not always a linear one and the expectation is progress, not perfection.

“Exemplary,” as the tool describes organizations who have fully integrated their internal and external DEI policies and practices, is still a goal for us.

In addition to continuing our efforts in this area, we are also working to develop additional ways to ensure we are applying an antiracist and feminist lens to our grantmaking. We are learning from colleagues in the philanthropic space to inform this effort and I have particularly appreciated the thought leadership provided by Justice Funders, specifically the Just Transitions Framework which inspires and aligns with so much of the change we want to see in regenerative philanthropic practice in Oregon.

As we continue to grow and evolve into the organization we dream of being, I am heartened and inspired to know that our staff, grantees, friends and partners will continue to hold us accountable. I am excited to be a part of our shared progress towards justice.

— Toya


A row of three seedlings at various stages of growth

Three seedlings in various stages of growth. Stock image.

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A Milestone for Justice Oregon: Reflections at the Halfway Point

Justice Oregon for Black Lives has reached a milestone moment. The initiative, launched in 2020, has just passed the halfway mark on its original five-year timeline, with more than $15.9 million awarded to 105 Black-led and Black-serving organizations in Oregon. In addition to announcing the latest round of awards, we thought now would be a good time to check in with Program Officers Allister Byrd and Nancy Haque on the challenges and lessons learned so far. Here are highlights of our conversation, edited for length and clarity:

With all of the local, national and international momentum leading up to the launch of Justice Oregon for Black Lives, what were some of your hopes coming into this initiative?

Allister: My original hope was that we could do some really radical, broad-thinking, innovative stuff. I heard in those initial community conversations [that Meyer held with Black community members and leaders] that although $5 million a year felt like a drop in the bucket for some folks, others felt that nothing like this at this scale had been done before in Oregon. We really had an opportunity to show that if there can be some form of reparative action for the Black community here, then it can happen across the United States. And that can benefit all communities, not just ours. So that was my hope, and that's still my hope for the initiative.

Understanding that $25 million is a significant investment, but that the need and ambition extends far beyond that — how do you measure success and can you speak to some of the challenges?

Allister: First, we’ve got to meet people where they're at right now in order to get to that bigger state. We’ve been fortunate to have the resources to help catalyze a lot of important and exciting work.

I really love this idea that we're not just filling in the hole, but we're actually tilling the soil. We understand that organizations who are actively hiring staff will want to keep growing their capacity, but they can't do that if the funding is not always going to be there. One of the ways we’ll know we're successful is if the things that we do through this initiative live beyond its time frame.

Nancy: How can we make sure that people and organizations have what they need so they can imagine that bigger, better future? One of the reasons I joined Meyer is because this initiative made me believe there's a commitment to racial justice. It's really indicative of what our values are, how we set up this program for success. So the depth of that commitment is reflected in the grantmaking budget. But it’s also about the operating budget, the staffing and other resourcing for the initiative, all of those details as well.

Allister: To be in this role of program officer is challenging. We have to consider what's the level of political education about each of [Justice Oregon’s priority] areas that you have to have in order to actually make informed decisions about funding. That's something that we just have never really had enough time to deal with because we're trying to get the money out. So I think balancing that urgency with what it really takes to support a community-informed process is the tension that we're always navigating. I hold all that, right? Of loving the work, but also not having enough time or capacity to do everything.

Also, launching a tremendously ambitious, community-informed effort at this size and scale is already a tall order. Doing it in the middle of a pandemic brought in a whole other set of challenges. Like so many other organizations, our leadership changed and we had to adjust to that loss and keep on going. (D’Artagnan Caliman, Justice Oregon’s first director, left Meyer in February to join the 1803 fund as vice president of partnerships.)

Tell me more about the importance of community in Justice Oregon.

Allister: We talk with people all day. Not just about their organizations, but about, ‘What are you dreaming about? What else could we do? Who else are you connecting with?’ That is the heartbeat of what we're trying to do here.

The community conversations that we had in May 2021 were also the first time that a lot of Black folks doing work in Oregon, not just Portland, had the opportunity to be in virtual space together. [The opportunity for a grantee] to say, ‘I just started this nonprofit a few years ago and I'm sitting here with Sharon Gary-Smith of the NAACP, and we've never met before, but this is an opportunity for us to convene.’

Just seeing the byproducts that happened as a result of getting folks together in this space has been really, really amazing. That doesn't mean that everybody agrees all the time and the initiative is not perfect by any means, but I see that sort of connective tissue really forming through this and that's been really amazing to watch.

What advice would you give to organizations who want to do this type of work?

Nancy: Decide at the get go what your goals are. Living your racial justice values is setting up that program for success, which means giving it enough capacity and not siloing the work. Yes, there can be this program that can be for this particular community, but you have to think about it in a holistic way. You have to think about how this kind of racial justice initiative fits into the organization and how the whole organization is supporting it.

Allister: I would say, do all of that and then talk to another organization. Do a lot of funder organizing around this so there is an ecosystem supporting it.

Thoughts on the future?

Allister: I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to get to meet amazing Black folks all over the state who are doing really incredible work for their communities. You know, seeing all of the movement that's happening.

Ultimately, I’m trying to help grow the kind of place that I want to live, which is a place where Black people are happy and resourced and where there are cross-racial justice efforts happening. I love that part of this work. I love the people in this work.

Justice Oregon has been known for its high number of first time grantees. In this latest round of awards, what is one organization you are particularly excited about?

Allister: We are so excited to award $6.94 million (including multi-year grants) to 62 organizations in this third round. They are all doing incredible, important work, but if I had to choose one organization, it would be PRISMID Sanctuary. It’s a communal gathering and healing space for Black and Indigenous artists in North Portland, thoroughly curated by musician and composer Esperanza Spalding.

I’d also like to highlight the Gordly Burch Center for Black Leadership and Civic Engagement. They’re celebrating the history of Black leadership in Oregon with a mission to train and support the next generation of Black leaders and to increase the number of Black policy makers, community and civic Leaders across Oregon.

Nancy: I would choose Love is King. I had never heard of this group before the process and I am so inspired by the work they are doing. They bring small groups of Black Oregonians to the Arctic every summer to meet with Indigenous leaders and to see some of the lands and people that are being threatened by climate change. The folks who go on the trips are then paired with a conservation organization and a dozen went to Washington D.C. this year to testify in Congress.


Listed below are all of the Justice Oregon for Black Lives Awardees (Spring 2023)


African American Alliance for Home Ownership* 

African Heritage Education and Empowerment Community* 

African Women's Coalition* 

Allen Performing Arts Inc.* 

Be-BLAC Foundation* 

Black Circus* 

Black Community of Portland 

Black Oregon Land Trust* 

Black United Fund of Oregon 

Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area* 

Camp ELSO 

Clackamas Education Service District* 

Colostrum Coalition* 

Community Violence Prevention Alliance* 

Equity Splash* 

Ethiopian and Eritrean Cultural and Resource Center* 

Friends of IFCC*

Friends of the Children - Portland 

Get Schooled Foundation* 

Gordly Burch Center for Black Leadership and Civic Engagement* 

HOLLA School 

Jackson County Community Services Consortium* 


Journeys Foundation* 

Joyce Finley Foundation* 

Kids For The Culture* 

Lane Community College Foundation* 

Lines for Life* 

Love is King* 

Love is Stronger GV* 


NE STEAM Coalition 

None Left Behind* 

Open School* 

Oregon Bravo Youth Orchestras* 

Oregon Expungement Relief Project* 

Oregon Pediatric Society* 

Oregon Pediatric Society* 

Ori Gallery* 

PassinArt: A Theatre Company* 

PBDG Foundation 

Portland Community College Foundation* 

Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives 

Portland Housing Center* 

Portland State University Foundation*

Prismid Inc* 

Q Center* 

RACE TALKS: Uniting to Break the Chains of Racism 

Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theatre* 

Sabin Community Development Corporation* 

Somali American Council of Oregon (SACOO)* 

Soul District Business Association 

The Fathers Group 

Triple Threat Mentoring 

Unite Oregon 

University of Oregon Foundation* 

Urban League of Portland 

Wild Diversity *

Wildcat Boxing Inc* 

Williams & Russell CDC* 

WomenFirst Transition & Referral Center* 

Youth Empowerment Project Pacific Northwest* 

Youth Organized and United to Help 


*First time awardees

Program Officer Elisa and staff talking at the Justice Oregon Info Session in Aug. 2022

Program Officer Elisa Harrigan speaking with a guest at Justice Oregon's info session in August 2022. Credit: Fred Joe Photo

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