Meyer Memorial Trust launches $25 million racial justice initiative

Meyer Memorial Trust launches $25 million racial justice initiative

The Meyer Memorial Trust in Portland, Oregon, has announced a five-year, $25 million initiative aimed at advancing racial justice and equity in the state.

The largest commitment ever made by the trust — which will entail the tapping of its endowment — will fund the launch of Justice Oregon for Black Lives, an initiative co-created with Black communities that includes a redoubling of MMT's support for several Black-led organizations in Portland. To that end, the foundation announced an initial round of general support grants totaling $1 million to five previous or current grantees.

Another $290,000 will be awarded to organizations advocating for reforms in the areas of decarceration and decriminalization, abolishment of the prison-industrial complex, redefining public safety beyond policing, and cross-cultural approaches to racial justice. The trust plans to hire a program director with lived experience to lead the initiative and deepen MMT's relationships and partnerships with Black-led organizations.

"Philanthropic support of Black-led organizations historically falls short, and with this infusion Meyer aims to reverse that trend and make this a mainstay of how we invest in Oregon's future from now on," said MMT president and CEO Michelle J. DePass in a statement

"We expect that centering Blackness will enhance the importance of all the other aspects of our equity work," wrote Kaberi Banerjee Murthy, the trust's director of programs and strategy, in a post announcing the initiative. "As the pandemic has shown so clearly, Black, Indigenous and people of color communities are disproportionately impacted when crisis hits, and our commitment to Black communities signals a strengthening of our commitment to all communities of color in Oregon. We stand with our Native, Latinx and Asian-American communities, believing that we can manifest meaningful change for Oregon to create a sense of belonging for all who call it home. This is especially powerful because this state originally was created to exclude so many of us. We believe that by centering those most impacted, we will build a stronger system that works for all."

Kaberi Banerjee Murthy. "Change is possible now: Justice Oregon for Black Lives." Meyer Memorial Trust press release 07/14/2020. "Justice Oregon for Black Lives: A five-year, $25 million commitment." Meyer Memorial Trust press release 07/14/2020.