In this uncertain time, the Meyer Memorial Trust in Portland, Oregon, is committed to ensuring that resources flow to community-driven solutions and work across the state.
In 2020, MMT’s Annual Funding Opportunity opened just as the COVID-19 pandemic reached Oregon and upended daily life. MMT staff knew then that extraordinary times call for more, innovative support. To that end, over the past year it has added to its regular grantmaking with dedicated funding for COVID and wildfire responses and tapped its endowment to launch its largest ever initiative, Justice Oregon for Black Lives. In 2021, the trust is committed to maintaining a larger overall grantmaking commitment.
(Please note that Justice Oregon for Black Lives will not be part of the Annual Funding Opportunity as the funding approach for that initiative is being developed in-partnership with community input.)
The application period for the Annual Funding Opportunity will open on March 15, with applications accepted through April 19. Applications will be accepted in the following areas:
Building Community — Inequitable outcomes for communities of color are far from new, but the pandemic and reckoning with systemic racism have brought a heightened awareness to these challenges. To help address them, the Building Community portfolio will continue to focus on people of color, Indigenous communities and Tribes and immigrants and refugees. Applicants must have implemented strategies designed specifically to benefit at least one of these populations. In addition to focusing on these communities, Building Community will continue to use a three-part framework to guide review of funding requests: operationalized DEI, connection to systems change, and community engagement.
MMT encourages proposals that promote a more inclusive, participatory democracy that transforms structures based on exclusion and builds power for communities at the margins. It also seeks proposals that will create meaningful connections within and between communities that build a strong sense of belonging.
Equitable Education — As schools across Oregon prepare for students to return to the classroom over the next year, the Equitable Education portfolio seeks to support public school districts and nonprofit partners as they strive to meet the demands of this critical moment.
While the challenges of this past year have and will continue to test the state’s education system, Meyer’s 2021 Annual Funding Opportunity seeks to establish student supports and accelerate innovative approaches that meet the resilience of its priority students with exceptional, relevant programming in the areas of kindergarten readiness, literacy in the primary grades, high school graduation and college and career readiness, as well as attendance across the K-12 continuum. For partners seeking to advance education equity for priority students through systems- and policy-level change, successful proposals will address the immediate and urgent needs of today’s priority students while establishing a foundation for meeting the future and ever-evolving needs of tomorrow’s students.
Healthy Environment — The varying events of the past year — COVID-19, reckoning for racial justice and climate change-driven wildfires — have laid bare the stark reality that there is no denying the urgent need for social transformation efforts that tackle the challenges of racism and ecological collapse with solutions that address the underlying drivers of these interconnected crises.
MMT’s 2021 Annual Funding Opportunity will support efforts to build power in communities to resist the continued exploitation of people and planet, as well as create and implement innovative approaches to healing people’s relationship with nature and each other. To complement these approaches, MMT will continue to fund work to build a more inclusive and equitable movement for a healthy environment. Grants will support a mix of statewide, regional, and place-based efforts in urban and rural Oregon, including Tribal nations and prioritize the needs of communities that experience environmental disparities.
Housing Opportunities — Safe and affordable housing is the foundation for family stability, health, education and inclusive communities. And advocates have made progress in recent years to remove barriers to affordable housing, secure more resources for housing development and supportive services, and address racist and colonialist systems that hold back BIPOC individuals and the broader housing field.
If Oregon is to emerge from the pandemic and economic fallout without massive evictions and displacement, it needs bolder solutions grounded in racial justice. MMT’s three high-level housing goals remain the same in this funding cycle, but it is looking to support work that matches the urgency and emphasis on racial justice the moment demands. To that end, the trust encourages proposals that seek to mobilize and build power and advocacy by and for impacted communities. Proposals to curb the speculators and lenders motivated to tear apart communities in search of profit are encouraged, as are proposals that align resources and systems for more equitable outcomes and racial justice.
The trust will be holding an information session online on March 1 to share more about this year’s Annual Funding Opportunity. Potential applicants are encouraged to register for the Zoom session and check out other opportunities to connect with portfolio staff.
To learn more about the portfolios’ funding priorities, see the Meyer Memorial Trust website.