Meyer Memorial Trust Awards $17M in Oregon

November 16, 2016

Meyer Memorial Trust announced 151 grants totaling $17.3 million to nonprofits and organizations supporting work that advances, in some way, the goal of a more equitable and flourishing Oregon. Specifically, these award work to close inequity gaps in the state. The majority of Meyer’s grants are to organizations working to bring policy change, services, knowledge and expertise to rural and urban communities across the state.

All 151 grants fall within one or more of Meyer’s focus areas: housing, the environment, and community building. The awards were selected from 675 proposals winnowed through a competitive selection process.

With awards to a variety of institutions, including the Causa of Oregon, Community Cycling Center, Multnomah County, On-the-Move Community Integration, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Caritas Community Housing Corporation, Basic Rights Education Fund, Bridge Meadow and the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center, Meyer hopes to:

  • Eliminate inequities and improve conditions experienced by marginalized populations;
  • Advance policy and systems solutions to ensure environmental justice, healthy ecosystems and clean water and air in all our communities;
  • Address housing affordability and inequities so every Oregonian has a safe place to call home; and
  • Potentially most importantly, to strengthen the community’s leadership and voice to ensure that solutions are developed by the people impacted.

Over the past two years, Meyer engaged in strategic conversations with its philanthropic partners and nonprofit leadership to place equity at the center of all of the Trust’s giving and internal decision-making. These grants are the first that fall completely under Meyer’s new focus.

“They are first step in a long but crucial journey,” said Doug Stamm, Meyer’s CEO and a Philanthropy Northwest board member.

“This is our opportunity to express our gratitude to our nonprofit partners who leaned in with us over the past two years and shared their perspectives that were prominent in shaping our equity based funding portfolio frameworks and criteria: Your voice and input guided us to the funding decisions announced today, and they reflect equity, policy and systems change, innovation, risk and opportunity for deeper impact,” Stamm said Wednesday. “We feel a great sense of hope and responsibility to Oregonians with this announcement of awards to organizations committed to removing barriers and creating pathways towards a more just and equitable Oregon for all.”

Candy Solovjovs, Meyer’s director of programs, said the grants “mark an important milestone in Meyer’s transformative, organizational evolution.”

“At this particular moment in time, when communities that have experienced disparities face ever greater threats and challenges on the national level and in our own backyards, the work and organizations these awards support are tangible investments toward the equitable Oregon we envision,” Solovjovs added.

Some highlights among the awards:

Muslim Educational Trust’s civic engagement work received a $200,000 boost to foster greater community involvement, leadership development and closer integration between the Muslim community and others in the greater Portland area. For Oregon’s roughly 25,000 Muslims, MET is a key source of support and leadership. Dahnesh Medora, Meyer’s Building Community portfolio director, said the organization has the trust of the state’s diverse Muslims and building connections within the community and with non-Muslims is something it is uniquely suited to create.

Bonneville Environmental Foundation received a $200,000 grant for community solar projects in multifamily affordable housing, which aims to create job opportunities for disadvantaged workers and businesses. Jill Fuglister, Meyer’s Healthy Environment portfolio director, called the demonstration project “a timely opportunity to inform and transform the renewable energy marketplace in Oregon for the specific benefit of low-income residents of affordable housing.”

A $250,000 award to Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives helps to preserve and increase units of affordable housing in Oregon through development of Grant Warehouse, an 80-unit multi-family, mixed-use project designed to mitigate gentrification in and displacement from North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods. Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives has a long and deep connection to the community the project serves. Sharon Wade Ellis, a Philanthropy NW Momentum Fellow working on Meyer’s Housing Opportunities portfolio, described what made this award special: “Grant Warehouse aligns with the City of Portland’s affordable housing goals and is part of PCRI’s signature program, Pathway 1000, a community revitalization initiative to develop 1,000 new homes for rent or sale over the next decade.”

Northwest Forest Worker Center was awarded $105,000 to build capacity for their environmental justice efforts centered on forest stewardship in Jackson County.

Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (known as NEDCO), was awarded $100,000 over two years to build capacity for its work providing supportive housing in Lane County to unaccompanied homeless students and young people aging out of foster care.

Rural Organizing Project, which works to build social infrastructure in rural Oregon for equity, inclusion and participatory democracy, was awarded a $150,000 grant over 3 years to expand grassroots community organizing through equity, collaboration and intersectionality.

For more information, visit Meyer Memorial Trust's website.