Breadth, Depth of Immigrant and Refugee Organizing Inspires Increased Funding for Movement Building

Last year saw a historic rise in the number of displaced people around the world and, tragically, a similarly unprecedented increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric. With these hateful sentiments come rumblings of new, exclusionary policies, both nationally and here in Oregon.

Since 2018, the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative (OIRFC) – a group comprised of The Collins Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust – has provided grants to organizations working to counter anti-immigrant narratives and foster long-term inclusion and belonging for Oregon’s immigrant and refugee communities.

Having been part of this work at Meyer since the beginning, I can say that the last six years of funding have led to critical successes. However, after primarily supporting work reacting to negative policies or practices, we asked ourselves if we should be more forward-thinking in our grantmaking. We got an answer in a series of grantee partner listening sessions last year. We heard a pressing need for funding to better mobilize, leverage and scale the collective impact of the immigrant and refugee community over the long term.

That’s why I’m particularly pleased to announce the latest round of OIRFC grants: A suite of funding specifically focused on organizations and coalitions in the advanced stages of movement building.

While the OIRFC had originally allocated $675,000 for this initiative, we were overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of organizing taking place. Thanks to additional contributions by the Oregon Community Foundation and Meyer, we were able to increase the total budget to $1,096,174.

After careful consideration, the OIRFC selected the seven projects below to receive funding in this initial round. These groups display a clear commitment to scaling their movement-building efforts. Please join me in celebrating these organizations, both for the work they have done in service to the community and for the critical work ahead of them.

They know what others sometimes forget: Immigrants have always been a part of Oregon’s story. They have played an integral part in building and sustaining our state’s economy and culture. They are part of what makes Oregon healthy and whole and, when we vilify them, we are only hurting ourselves.

Movement Building Grantee Partners

Adelante Mujeres (Women Rise Up) has a rich history of engaging the Latine/x and immigrant community by providing educational resources and acting as a forum for community advocacy. Through this project, they will strengthen their ability to unite with others in the broader community who are committed to advancing social and economic justice for the common good.

Bienestar (Well being) started 42 years ago providing dignified housing for migrant farmworkers. Now it develops multi-family rental properties that are safe, low-cost alternatives in an increasingly unaffordable housing market. They will use these funds to provide training and skill-building support for residents who can then raise their voices to advocate for equitable housing policies.

For more than 30 years, Community Alliance of Lane County has organized residents to advocate for racial justice, immigrant rights, human dignity, economic justice and educational equality. The organization’s leadership development program, Voces Unidas para la Justicia, works with and trains Latine/x youth and families so they can advocate for equitable education policy. They are now partnering with Escudo Latino, another community-centered leadership program for the Latine/x community. Their work will be focused on the education system of Springfield, Oregon.

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon works to engage diverse communities of faith in direct service to people living on low incomes and those marginalized and impacted by structural injustice. It offers a mix of social services to low-income immigrants. These funds will help the organization build upon its current coalition and community partnerships to establish immigration status as a recognized social determinant of health.

Oregon Latino Health Coalition has worked for almost 20 years to advance the health of the Latine/x people through policy, advocacy and prevention. This project will build capacity for Salud es Poder, a movement-building initiative to ensure a healthcare expansion policy to offer Oregon Health Plan benefits to people of any age or immigration status.

Oregon Rural Action Project is a grassroots and culturally diverse community-led organization based in La Grande and working across Eastern Oregon. They promote social justice, agricultural and economic sustainability, and stewardship of the region’s land, air and water. They aim to build a rural movement in eastern Oregon to advance greater health, food and resource equity; farmworker rights; and environmental justice.

The Next Door offers culturally relevant, community-centered programming for youth and families. Programs like equity and outreach training support further engagement in promoting resilient community health, effective public education and thriving economic development systems. This project seeks to advance civic equity through education and advocacy in the Mid-Columbia Gorge.

— Sally

A group photo in the lobby of Meyer Memorial Trust

Representatives from this round of OIRFC grantee organizations gathered at Meyer's HQ in March 2024.

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Justice Oregon grants highlight innovation, exploration through partnership

This post has been updated to reflect the total funding amount for the planning phase of these collaborative grants: $2.6 million.

To achieve Black liberation, we must build power within Black communities; calling on one another to form interdependent networks of nourishment and celebration. We’ve heard this often from our conversations with folks on the frontlines: our impact could be so much larger if we had the time and resources to collaborate with one another. Some groups have found innovative ways to make this happen, but many still need dedicated space, staff and funding to fully realize goals.

In our latest round of funding for Justice Oregon for Black Lives, we’ve reimagined our approach, asking organizations to form collaboratives that will sustain thriving Black ecosystems in Oregon. By removing barriers to maintain long-term partnerships, collaborative funding enables groups to bring their breadth of expertise to tackle systemic issues. These partnerships will allow organizations to learn from one another, share data and strategize, building upon the momentum set forth by those who came before us.

We believe in the strength of the collective. Social justice movements of the past and present knew this to be true as well.

The “Big Five” civil rights groups worked together to bring tens of thousands to the March on Washington, advocating for desegregation and voting rights. The Chicago Black Panther Party joined ranks with the Young Lords and Young Patriots, forming the cross-cultural group, Rainbow Coalition, to combat police brutality and substandard housing. Today, the Black Lives Matter movement utilizes a “leaderful” model where grassroots organizations and those at the forefront of injustice collectively lead this ongoing pursuit.

I believe 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. If we can start here.

Since 2020, 133 groups across the state have been funded through Justice Oregon for Black Lives, totaling $21.4 million. Now, we seek to deepen our impact by creating space for organizations — that are already doing vital work — to dream big and create lasting, systemic change together.

We are excited to announce the following 14 collaboratives that will receive a total of $2.6 million for the planning phase of these transformational projects.

HOLLA School joins Oregon Alliance of Black School Educators and Warner Pacific University to create a Black teacher recruitment and retainment pipeline.

Building Blocks 2 Success alongside McDaniel High School, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), Oregon State University and National Society of Black Engineers Portland Chapter will establish a comprehensive and impactful STEM education ecosystem in Portland with a focus on Black students.

Black Educational Achievement Movement (BEAM)The Blueprint Foundation, Play Grow Learn and other community partners will form an integrated network of community-based organizing to support Black youth in East Multnomah County.

KairosPDX is partnering with Black Parent Initiative, Albina Vision Trust and BEAM to transform the former Portland Public School property in Albina into a Center for Black Student Excellence by forming a youth council to garner input from impacted students on the Center’s function and processes.

A Black Art Ecology of Portland will collaborate with community partners to identify and prepare for a range of long term activities that support the creation and preservation of Black art in all mediums throughout Portland and beyond.

Ori Gallery joins Black & Beyond the Binary Collective, Liberation Medicine School and West Coast Black Circus to create a safety network for Black Trans folks in the Pacific Northwest.

Equitable Giving Circle, The and AfroVillage will map out the feasibility of building a network of buildings owned by Black-serving nonprofits.

Imagine Black Futures is partnering with The Rosewood Initiative and Black Community of Portland to establish a Black worker center in East Multnomah County.

Leaders Become Legends alongside Constructing Hope and NWXcelerator will establish a green technology pathway center in Gresham.

Feed'em Freedom Foundation joins Black Food Fund, Black Food Sovereignty Coalition/Black Futures Farm and Black Oregon Land Trust to establish a collective thriving of Black food systems.

Unite Oregon is partnering with Black Economic Collective, Keep Growing Seeds and The BIPOC Rise Moor Healing Center to create a Black wellness center in East Portland.

Black Parent Initiative alongside Black Men's Wellness and Be the Healing will plan a 2025 healing symposium on Black trauma and wellness.

African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), Taking Ownership and Constructing Hope will expand access and increase efficiency for clients, support a burgeoning Black workforce in the green technology industry and build awareness around the opportunities for homeowners and contractors.

POIC+RAHS will collaborate with Be the Healing and Journeys Oregon to develop a community safety worker (CSW) model to combat violence in the Black community.

Graphic illustration of silhouettes with various textures and patterns for Justice Oregon for Black Lives collaboratives


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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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D'Artagnan Caliman to leave Meyer

It is with mixed emotions that I announce the departure of D’Artagnan Caliman, director of the Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative. His last day at Meyer will be February 1.

D’Artagnan joined us in 2020 as the director of Justice Oregon for Black Lives, Meyer’s largest single initiative in history. We are incredibly grateful for his efforts to connect and deepen Meyer’s relationships in the community, his leadership in expanding participatory processes in our grantmaking and for all he has done to ensure that Black-led and Black-serving organizations in Oregon are empowered and resourced to do their vital work. With his departure, we lose one of Meyer’s most authentic voices; a colleague who took the work seriously, but never himself.

Under his leadership, Meyer has distributed nearly $9 million to dozens of organizations through Justice Oregon and brought a significant number of first-time awardees to the mix. A sixth-generation Oregonian, D’Artagnan’s lived experience in the historically Black neighborhoods of Portland have helped to inform his efforts and approach, including the early and important work of convening dozens of community leaders to develop the initiative’s main funding priorities. In addition, all grants made through the initiative have benefited from community input and review. D’Artagnan’s leadership has ensured that Justice Oregon is truly an initiative by and for the Black community.

We wish D’Artagnan all the best as he takes a well-deserved moment to breathe and decide on what his next chapter will look like.

I also want to assure our grantees and partners that Meyer remains committed to Justice Oregon. As we enter its third year, we are excited to continue funding excellent work and sharing more about our learnings through the initiative.

— Toya

D'artagnan Caliman speaking at Meyer's Justice Oregon for Black Lives info session in August 2022.

D'artagnan Caliman speaking at Meyer's Justice Oregon for Black Lives info session in August 2022.

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We're Taking a Break from Twitter

Meyer Memorial Trust is announcing today an indefinite pause of our engagement on Twitter due to growing concerns about safety and security on the platform. As an organization dedicated to advancing justice, we cannot continue to engage in a space where hate speech and misinformation are allowed to run rampant and unchecked. Yesterday’s dissolution of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, and other decisions that loosen content moderation standards and reinstate problematic accounts, make our continued participation untenable.

We’ve come to this decision in conversation and consultation with our staff and leadership, alongside research from organizations like the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Queensland University of Technology and Montclair State University, which have been tracking the uptick in harmful language and misinformation in the week after the company was purchased by Elon Musk. A snapshot of the data is sobering:

  • Anti-Black tweets and retweets tripled from the 2022 average.
  • Anti-LGBTQ2SIA+ rhetoric rose 53% from the 2022 average.
  • Hate speech engagement went from 84 times per hour to 398 times per hour immediately following the acquisition.

A lack of responsible content moderation and account oversight has also fueled documented increases in COVID-19 misinformation, climate denial posts and given new life to election conspiracy theories that undermine our democracy.

Reflection and Responsibility

As the staff member who develops Meyer’s social media content, I know that no platform is perfect. Cyber hate and misinformation have become par for the course in today’s digital landscape and efforts to bolster democratized public discourse and information sharing too often contend with harmful agents for visibility.

My colleagues and I also understand that many of Meyer’s grantees, community partners and peers depend upon Twitter to share stories, spread awareness and fundraise. As a private funder, we recognize it is a privilege to even consider stepping away.

As someone who came of age during the early days of online social interaction, I still believe in the power of social media to connect people in ways that transcend time and space. The digital world is a tool for building community among diverse audiences that could rarely, if ever, exist on word of mouth alone. The ocean of possibilities within social media connectivity have the potential to make waves in transformative change at scale. As a society, we have already witnessed what can be achieved through the power of the collective in the era of virality.

But we cannot rely on a platform that weaponizes a false notion of free speech to abuse the very communities we support. The danger associated with the onslaught of harmful rhetoric and misinformation continues to mount and runs counter to Meyer's mission to accelerate racial, social and economic justice.

While building community may be at the heart of social media, it cannot act as a proxy for deepening relationships. Content is not a substitute for conversation. Purposeful communication requires an honest and transparent dialogue in spaces that respect individual differences and honor personal safety — online or IRL.

What to Expect, What’s Next

The decision to pause Twitter engagement indefinitely will give us time and space to reexamine our approach to promoting healthy conversation within the virtual landscape. We will continue to monitor the platform’s efforts toward moderating hate speech and countering misinformation to determine if and/or when it is safe to return. Our team is also investigating the viability of increasingly popular alternatives like Mastodon.

Meyer will continue to highlight the impact of our grantees and spread ideas worth sharing on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. We have ended promotion of staff Twitter accounts on our website, but continue to share LinkedIn account information for staffers who engage on that platform. Decisions made by staff about their own personal Twitter accounts and non-Meyer related content are their own.

A Continuing Conversation

We hope to continue listening to and talking with you as we work towards a better future as thoughtful communicators. In that spirit, we’re still advocating for and with communities throughout Oregon and value your partnership and engagement. Want to share your thoughts, have a healthy debate on the future of social media or just pop in to say, hi? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at taryn [at]

For those who are also grappling with how best to respond to the moment, here are some practical resources that may be useful:

Regardless of how you choose to navigate through the tumult — by staying the course or swimming to a different shore — I hope you find healthy discourse and connection.



Twitter headquarters building in San Francisco, CA

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, 2020.

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New Year, New Grants Management Software

Mark your calendars! Our grant operations team is excited to share that on March 1, 2023 Meyer will launch GivingData, a new grants management software and grantee portal.

Our current software, GrantIs, will be taken offline on February 23, 2023.

Why the change?

This transition has been in the works since May 2021 when we formally began our search for a grants management software that would better support Meyer’s community-informed grantmaking framework. Feedback from our grantee partners and staff also prompted us to look for a new system with a more user-friendly interface. GivingData will allow us to collaborate in real time, improve the flow of applications and reports, and keep our grantmaking data in one place. We are especially excited for the external reviewer portal, which is a feature we had on our wish list. We look forward to piloting this function with some future grant cycles.

For Current Grantees

We will be reaching out to existing grantee partners in the coming months with more details on how to navigate the new grantee portal. One substantial change from our current system is that all grantees will need to create and activate a new account for an individual user, rather than on behalf of an organization. Reports that are due after March 1, 2023 will be submitted through GivingData.

For New Applicants

If you expect to apply for a grant from Meyer in 2023, we recommend that you wait to register until our new software is in place.

When Will Meyer Begin Accepting Grant Applications? What happened to the Annual Funding Opportunity?

Meyer is still working out the details of our new grantmaking structure, so we do not yet have specific information to share on current funding opportunities for 2023 and beyond. The Annual Funding Opportunity was retired as Meyer’s main vehicle for grantmaking in 2021.

What’s Next?

We’ll be posting quick guides, FAQs and other helpful resources on our website in the coming months to support a smooth transition. We look forward to working and learning with grantee partners in this new grants management software and thank everyone in advance for their patience and support as we complete this transition.

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An illustration of analysts around a data-filled computer screen and gears in the background.

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Keeping Community In My Heart

Friends and Colleagues,

When I joined Meyer four years ago, I did so with the unwavering belief that following the lead of BIPOC communities was key to realizing our shared vision of an equitable Oregon that works for all. I still carry that vision and that dream in my heart, but will not be continuing on this journey as I leave Meyer in October.

I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to champion and partner with you on so much of the excellent work that is happening now. Deepening our strategy, shifting power, implementing trust-based practices and creating a culture of learning is work that is ongoing. They are efforts that I have worked hard to catalyze and grow. I know they will continue long beyond my tenure here.

The work we have done to move our commitment from equity towards justice and to center intersectional BIPOC wisdom fills me with pride.

In my time here, we were able to increase the grantmaking authority of our CEO and to include community members into grantmaking recommendations. Meyer’s annual grantmaking has increased from $35 million to $45 million. But more importantly, the percentage of general operating grants has grown from 12% to 45% and the percentage of grants supporting BIPOC, immigrants, LGBTQIA+ and people with disabilities increased from 59% to 82%.

Following our community’s lead has allowed us to desilo our work and address root causes — to show up for reproductive justice and other pressing needs in ways that our portfolio structure did not previously allow. I also am grateful for the opportunity to have dreamed and created Justice Oregon for Black Lives, responded to anti-Asian hate and moved resources equitably during both the COVID pandemic and the wildfires.

With our staff and partners, I strove to create a learning arc for our strategy work that allowed us to learn from social justice community members and national leaders as we pushed ourselves to our growing edge. I’ve learned so much from our community, but one lesson resonates particularly deeply: to balance our sense of urgency with the need to move at the speed of trust.

I believe that I am leaving Meyer in a stronger place to be in real service to the community by centering intersectional BIPOC wisdom and making a bold commitment to justice. Meyer has a new CEO at the helm, a dynamic new director of grantmaking in place with a director of learning soon to follow, and an engaged program staff. I look forward to the next chapter and remain, as always, a champion for justice.

In partnership,

— Kaberi

One of my favorite Meyer highlights – interviewing Alicia Garza during Meyer Learning Week

One of my favorite Meyer highlights – interviewing Alicia Garza during Meyer Learning Week

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Sohel Hussain joins Meyer as first Director of Investment Operations

I am excited to share that Sohel Hussain will join Meyer Memorial Trust as the first-ever Director of Investment Operations. Sohel most recently oversaw the middle office team at PIMCO, a global investment management firm focusing on active fixed income management. He brings a decade of experience in operations, trade support, cash management and project management.

He has extensive experience managing the “middle office” — the work that moves forward the investment process and provides critical information to fiduciaries and stakeholders. As Director of Investment Operations, he will be responsible for strengthening partnerships and improving workflow in this area among Meyer’s operations, accounting, information technology and communications teams. 

As we continue to formalize and professionalize our investment operations, Sohel's proven leadership skills will help to guide Meyer in our dedicated support for communities across Oregon through strong alignment between our investments and values.

He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business and is completing a Masters of Liberal Arts in Finance at Harvard University.




Sohel Hussain, Meyer's first Director of Investment Operations

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An Annual Funding Opportunity unlike any other

Two weeks after the election, November continues to provide fresh reminders that 2020 has been anything but business as usual.

Meyer Memorial Trust’s Annual Funding Opportunity opened in mid-March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic started radically changing daily life. At the time, there was a question of whether we should even go forward with our usual grantmaking, but the moment called for more immediate action and support in the midst of COVID-19 and the need to be responsive felt paramount. We received 320 applications, requesting $45 million in funding. Our 2020 Annual Funding Opportunity grant awards total $21.3 million, funding 150 projects at organizations working to make Oregon a flourishing and equitable home for all.

As nonprofits adapted to rapidly changing conditions of the pandemic, we knew Meyer had to come alongside with the flexibility that the field has been asking for and to move further toward principles of trust-based philanthropy. We prioritized making more general operating grants and experimented with accepting proposals written for other foundations. We removed report requirements for existing grants and began rethinking our reporting requirements and how to maximize learning without burdening grantees. We also moved faster this year, finalizing a robust round of grants in the spring and another in the fall.

Responsiveness is perhaps what 2020 has required of everyone most of all, as well as living our values while finding different ways of being and working to address significant interwoven challenges. Whether it’s the global pandemic, the nationwide reckoning with racial injustice or the worst wildfires in Oregon history, communities are navigating tremendous change and we are responding with additional support by tapping into our endowment.

But even in times of great uncertainty, there are things we know for sure:

  • Grass-roots and nonprofit organizations are integral to community resilience.
  • Eliminating long-standing inequities will require shifting underlying conditions that hold them in place.
  • Centering the communities that are most impacted by a problem—almost always Black, Indigenous and People of Color—generates the best solutions for everyone.
  • A healthy democracy will always be essential to actualizing a flourishing and equitable state for all Oregonians.

Grants across our Annual Funding Opportunity reflect the latest iterations of this work and we are proud to support community efforts that, taken together, help to show the way forward.

Below we highlight some themes among the 2020 AFO grants and provide examples of opportunities for change and progress in this time of challenge. You can also view the full list of awards sorted by portfolio here.


Responsive Operations

In the weeks following Feb. 28 and confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Oregon, all sectors generally had to pivot their operations to meet public health demands and respond to a new set of emerging and urgent needs. Even nonprofits that typically focus at a systemic level to create change were drawn into providing services directly to their constituents.

  • All 26 Oregon Habitat for Humanity affiliates experienced a significant disruption of programs and operations due to the coronavirus. To ensure adequate social distancing, home construction projects shifted to a paid-staff/subcontractor model instead of the volunteer workforce that has bolstered the Habitat community for decades. This change significantly increased the cost of 50 homes already underway. Habitat for Humanity of Oregon responded quickly by putting together a rapid response program that would pair a zero percent interest loan with a grant to close the gap on these homes that are already in construction and move 50 families into stable housing.
  • Familias en Accion was founded in response to the need for a culturally specific organization to promote health for the Latinx community in Oregon. Prior to COVID-19 Familias was serving nearly 600 Latinx clients and family members annually through its Community Health Worker program, which helps clients navigate complex health systems, removes barriers to care and provides chronic disease self-management education through long-term engagement. In Oregon, the Latinx community has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and monthly caseloads for Familias are closer to what they would have averaged in a year. Throughout the pandemic, the program has continued to provide clients critical information and referral services, access to client service funds and timely systems navigation.

Healthy Democracy

Our democracy is not inherently just and requires ongoing collective attention. Groups received grants to advance civic engagement and create a more inclusive democracy. This includes a range of issues from Oregon’s pending legislative redistricting to voting rights and ensuring that appropriate implementation of recently passed policies such as the medical and family leave act.

  • More Equitable Democracy (MED) received a grant this year to advance racial equity through electoral systems reform. Fiscally sponsored by the Proteus Fund, MED is advancing Oregon’s voting rights protections by making it easier to challenge local electoral systems that present barriers for equitable representation.
  • Next Up (formerly Oregon Progress Forum) received a grant to serve as a political home for young people and a pipeline for civic engagement and power-building in Oregon. In the coming year, Next Up will continue to center Black, Indigenous and leaders of color in its service of equity-centered policy. This will primarily take shape in the form of leadership development, voter engagement and policy advocacy work aimed at making Oregon a place where policymakers are more accountable to younger generations.

Community-Centered Advocacy

Cascading disruptions set in motion by COVID-19 highlight the stark racial disparities in health, housing, education, environment access and economic stability in Oregon. As public officials work to address some aspects of the crisis, state and local governments are bracing for a shortage of revenue, a steep increase in people needing assistance of all kinds and competing leadership priorities at the federal level. In this environment, the need for organized advocacy by and in coordination with people directly affected by the multiple crises has never been more clear, as is the ability to define clear and compelling policy alternatives that center the needs of the communities that are most impacted by an issue or problem.

  • JOIN is helping inform public decision-making around the response to Oregon’s housing crisis, by elevating and amplifying the voices of the people who are most impacted. In essence, the priorities of these communities will help shape county, city and statewide responses to emerging housing issues, while also educating decision-makers about housing interventions that are known to be effective and equitable.
  • Unete, Beyond Toxics and PCUN are collaborating to elevate the voices of Latinx, Indigenous and migrant workers in the timber sector to help improve state forest practices and workplace safety rules. Immigrant forestry workers are typically hired to do the highly dangerous work of planting tree seedlings, spraying pesticides, setting chokers and helping get logs up steep slopes. These workers are the ones who often bear the brunt of pesticide exposure, higher temperatures and smoke inhalation on the job. The stories and experiences of migrant workers are missing from narratives about who makes up Oregon’s timber industry workforce.

Intersectional Organizing

Societies are complex. Many needs are not rigidly bound to individual topics and therefore must be addressed with an intersectional and multi-issue approach to achieve change. In support of this work, a number of groups received grants to support multi-issue organizing and advocacy efforts. Grantees addressed a range of issues such as challenging the normalization of the mass incarceration and deportation of non-citizens, building social infrastructure in rural communities for equity, supporting inclusion and participatory democracy and advocating for and securing millions in public dollars to support workers not eligible for unemployment insurance or other emergency federal relief tied to COVID-19.

  • Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP) received a grant to advance more equitable public policies through research and analysis and communication of findings. Working with a diverse set of coalitions and partnerships, OCPP work focuses on the well-being of Oregonians with the fewest economic resources and those who face the biggest barriers to success.
  • Hacienda CDC, Native American Youth and Family Center, Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East and Verde are partners in the Living Cully Collaborative, which works to address disparities in housing, income, health, education and natural resources in Portland's Cully neighborhood. Living Cully received a two-year grant to increase community-controlled assets, environmental investments and affordable housing, while preventing displacement of frontline communities.

Economic Justice 

The overlapping crises of 2020 have laid bare our economic system’s injustices for all to see. We have seen a growing appreciation by the public for the contributions and sacrifices that essential workers—farmworkers, service workers, health aides, hospital staff and so many more—are making for all us. The story of the unjust working conditions of essential workers— low wages, lack of health care and unhealthy workplace conditions—has also garnered new attention. A number of grants in this year are supporting work across Oregon to advance economic justice solutions that can set the stage for and deliver on the potential of a transformative economic recovery in the future.

  • Oregon Just Transition Alliance (OJTA) is a collaborative that aims to build frontline community power through grass-roots organizing around a “just transition,” a focus on building economic and political power to shift from a fossil-fuel based economy to a regenerative economy based on renewable energy. Embedded in this are economic justice goals for income equality by gender and race, good-paying jobs and allowing all people to reach their full potential. OJTA received a grant to organize communities around collective action on climate justice at a state level.
  • The Northwest Workers Justice Project supports the efforts of Oregon's most vulnerable workers to protect workplace dignity and to improve wages and working conditions by providing legal representation for individual workers as well as groups of workers, recovering stolen wages and addressing other employment issues including workplace abuse and safety.

Innovative Practices

Meyer’s flexible funding is well-positioned to support innovative practices such as pilot projects or applying familiar tools to new situations. We also look for opportunities in which our investments can support innovation and ways to evaluate its impact in a way that can bring lessons and learning to the field and advance equity in Oregon.

  • Attempts to address the multiple crises at hand has caused school districts to exceed their capacity and ability to respond. In this historic moment, the urgency of student needs cannot be overstated. Youth-serving organizations across Oregon have reaffirmed their commitment to developing innovative solutions that are designed to eliminate disparities in public education through direct response to student needs. Grantee partners such as Latino Community Association, Family Access Network and Kids Unlimited of Oregon are rapidly executing plans to address the current crisis while also keeping an eye toward long-term recovery efforts.
  • The environmental, economic and social justice problems of our global, industrial food systems are far-reaching. Pandemic-induced food shortages, such as what we recently experienced, are evidence that the global food supply chain is prone to falter in the face of shocks. Three partners of the PCUN’s Alianza Poder network, Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, High Desert Food & Farm Alliance and Warm Springs Community Action are building innovative local regenerative agriculture and sustainable food programs that also integrate cultural practices unique to Black, Indigenous and Tribal communities. As these efforts take root and scale up, they can become a driver for economic development, cultural revitalization and improving community and natural system health.

Meyer's 2020 Annual Funding Opportunity Grant Awards

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An illustration of Oregonians rallying together at the corner of NW Naito and Couch in downtown Portland. From left to right, demonstrators hold signs that depict Breonna Taylor and messages that read “Access Matters” “Jobs, Justice and Clean Energy” “Economic Justice” “Protect Democracy” “No One Is Illegal” “Support Oregon Nonprofits” “Listen To Native Voices” and “Familias Unidas no Divididas.”

An illustration of Oregonians rallying together in downtown Portland.

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Emergency wildfire relief response

The wildfires that continue to grip Oregon, burning nearly 1 million acres, have taken lives, devastated communities and compounded the stresses of multiple, ongoing disasters.

Meyer Memorial Trust mourns with Oregonians grieving the loss of life, homes and businesses, those evacuated and those struggling to breathe. We grieve the destruction of forests, wildlife and natural habitats. We appreciate the strong response by Oregonians and people from across the country that have stepped up already to provide immediate relief.

To support those most impacted by the wildfires, Meyer’s board of trustees last week approved $250,000 in new grants for communities wrestling with immediate needs, focusing on relief funds that reach the most impacted communities and people within those communities that have the least access to aid. The emergency wildfire relief fund grants are directed at bridging investment in six local United Way organizations working directly on relief, as well as relief efforts targeting priority populations hit hard by the fires and their aftermath. These grants include:

  • $60,000 to MRG Foundation for the Since Time Immemorial Fund, an effort to rapidly deploy resources to Tribal communities across the region when opportunity or need arises
  • $25,000 to CAUSA or Oregon for immediate relief support for Latinx and immigrant communities facing hardship from wildfires
  • $25,000 to MRG Foundation for the Rogue Valley Relief Fund, a crucial relief effort supporting people most impacted by wildfires in the Rogue Valley region
  • $25,000 to the United Way of Columbia-Willamette for relief support for communities facing hardship from wildfires in Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties
  • $25,000 to Willamette Valley Law Project for PCUN's Farmworker Emergency Fund, which provides relief support for farmworkers facing hardship from wildfires
  • $15,000 to Greater Douglas United Way for relief support for Douglas County communities facing hardship from wildfires
  • $15,000 to United Way of Southwestern Oregon for relief support for communities facing hardship from wildfires in Coos and Curry counties
  • $15,000 to United Way of Jackson County for relief support for Jackson County communities facing hardship from wildfires
  • $15,000 to United Way of Lane County for relief support for Lane County communities facing hardship from wildfires
  • $15,000 to United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley for relief support for communities facing hardship from wildfires in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties
  • $15,000 to the Wildfire Relief Fund of the United Way of Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties

Earlier last week, Meyer joined with Oregon Community Foundation and the Ford Family Foundation to create the Community Rebuilding Fund, a commitment to gather resources and plan for what comes next after the extraordinary devastation brought by wildfires across a state already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and consequences of racial injustice.

Meyer is grateful to be a partner in immediate and long-term recovery efforts to restore economic vitality and livability to communities, by focusing on those who face the biggest barriers to recovery. At Meyer, we believe that a core part of our mission for a flourishing and equitable Oregon calls us to join with other Oregonians in moments of severe crisis to support the resiliency of communities facing hardships. And we understand that underlying injustices caused by systemic racism and economic inequality intersect in a moment crisis, exacerbating historic disparities with new risk, trauma and harm.

For Meyer, the wildfires are a reminder that equity be a guiding star as the state looks to make sure vulnerable populations aren’t left behind when it comes to the immediate response, planning, rebuilding and recovery, specifically Black, Indigenous and people of color, immigrants and refugees, seniors and low-income Oregonians, groups that are more likely to be renters or unhoused.

We see an opportunity to design a recovery for Oregon that centers addressing structural racism and the need to confront climate change. The potential for a recovery that builds a regenerative and just economy that scales up many of the innovative practices and policies already happening in rural and urban communities across the state. An opportunity to link this recovery with the work Meyer is already supporting in communities across the state to decarbonize our economy and create high-wage jobs and job training to build clean energy infrastructure and restore our ecosystems. A clarion call to invest in work to help communities adapt and address root causes of the destructive and frequent wildfires that we are now experiencing as a result of climate change.

While these more intense and frequent wildfires are a symptom of the climate crisis, they are also the result of decades of fire suppression and forest management that have disrupted the natural fire regime of our forests by removing large trees. That is why Meyer supports efforts to change how Oregon manages and stewards forests and other wildlands, including Indigenous fire management, to improve forest structure, restore natural systems and support a fire regime that can be managed more predictably. Predictability would help us better address smoke and economic impacts on communities.

Finally, these wildfires have created and worsened a public health emergency in the middle of a global public health emergency. Shifting smoke and air quality indicators have solidified for Oregonians the connection between pollution, health and housing; and far too many of our neighbors experience terrible air quality in their homes or lack shelter even without wildfires.

At Meyer, we believe that a core part of our mission for a flourishing and equitable Oregon calls us to join with other Oregonians in moments of severe crisis to support the resiliency of communities facing hardships. And we understand that underlying injustices caused by systemic racism and economic inequality intersect in this moment of crisis, exacerbating historic disparities with new risk, trauma and harm.


Photo credit Fred Joe Photos

Photo credit: Fred Joe Photo.

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