July 14, 2020

Justice Oregon for Black Lives: A five-year, $25 million commitment

Michelle J. DePass, President & CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust, describes how the foundation is supporting Black resilience in Oregon with their largest initiative yet — funding Black-led and Black-centered organizations working toward justice and systemic change. This post was originally published here on the foundation's website.

Michelle is part of the 2019-2020 Philanthropy Forward: Leadership for Change Fellowship cohort, a joint initiative of Neighborhood Funders Group and The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. Meyer Memorial Trust, a member of NFG, works with and invests in organizations, communities, ideas and efforts that contribute to a flourishing and equitable Oregon.


 

A mural in NE Portland honoring Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. | Artist: Christian Grijalva | Photo credit: Tojo Andrianarivo
A mural in NE Portland honoring Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. | Artist: Christian Grijalva | Photo credit: Tojo Andrianarivo

George Floyd begged the police for more than 8 minutes not to take his life.

Nearly two months have passed since his videotaped slaying, and hundreds of thousands of people continue to take to the streets to protest brutal policing practices against Black Americans, condemn racism, demand accountability and affirm that Black lives do in fact matter.

Diverse and overwhelmingly peaceful, the protests have had swift, wide-ranging impacts. Here in Oregon, tens of thousands from across the state have shown up amid the coronavirus pandemic to add their voices to the calls for justice. In Portland, Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero ordered “school resource officers” removed from the city’s schools, the Portland City Council approved $15 million in cuts from the Portland Police Bureau budget amidst policy calls to support broader public safety and community well-being, and new, reform-minded district attorneys have pledged to change prosecutorial practices in various jurisdictions including Multnomah County.

I’ll be plain: These local victories are the product of long-standing leadership, activism and direct action by Black leaders, steadfast allies and, especially, Black-led and Black-serving social change organizations, from established mainstays like the Urban League of Portland to grassroots efforts. Six weeks into the protests, the country is in a moment of unprecedented reckoning as systemic and institutional anti-Black racism are laid bare and growing crowds demand real change. In Oregon, we are faced with an urgent opportunity to transform and build anew. Radical change may be more possible today than ever before.

Meyer Memorial Trust, an institution with equity at the heart of our work, will meet the moment by supporting Black resilience in Oregon.

This month, our board of trustees approved the creation of a five-year, $25 million initiative to make strategic investments in Black lives. “Justice Oregon for Black Lives” is the largest initiative in our 38-year history. Its scale recognizes that racial injustice was built into the framework of a state founded on stolen lands and explicit in its exclusion of Black people. Justice is not simply an ideal; it is something Oregonians should expect to see in our everyday lives. This dedicated funding will deepen support for Black-centered organizations, uplift a just system of community well-being and invest in long-term lasting strategic change. By supporting Black-led and Black-serving organizations that intersect with other communities of color, we know that conditions will improve for all Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in Oregon, and in turn, for all Oregonians.

In an indication of how vitally important this work is to Meyer, we are tapping into our endowment to fund this initiative beyond our usual annual grantmaking.

For six years, Meyer has built towards this moment. We’ve shared our equity journey, which has reshaped our grantmaking, our hiring practices and how we use our privilege, voice and power. Never has it been more clear that the core concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion point to racial justice, to an Oregon that lives up to the ideals it promised to some and withheld from others.

We start now and will build to make our mark. Initial general operating grants totaling $1 million go out this week to five organizations Meyer already has relationships with that are doing transformative work in Black communities. Another $290,000 supports organizations focused on a wide range of issue areas: decarceration and decriminalization, abolishment of the prison-industrial complex, hate tracking and advocacy, redefining public safety beyond policing and cross-cultural approaches to racial justice. We plan to hire a program director with lived experience to lead the Justice Oregon for Black Lives initiative, deeping our relationships with Black-led organizations and starting new partnerships.

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. Oregon’s flawed founding does not predict its future. The times call on us to eradicate racism and right wrongs. We are proud to back leaders who are not only ready but determined to succeed.

— Michelle J. DePass

September 27, 2021

Connect & co-conspire with us: NFG's 2021 September Newsletter

As a proud partner of CHANGE Philanthropy, NFG is excited to come together for the 2021 Unity Summit — the largest convening of progressive philanthropy!

Join us for the virtual & live Unity Summit experience from October 25-28. The Unity Summit will continue November 1-5 with a week of interactive experiences. This year's format will offer live plenary sessions, arts & culture experiences, networking and community spaces, interactive discussions about critical issues for #PhilanthroFolk like you, and a suite of on-demand content to develop practice and fortify bridges between communities & philanthropy.

 

The virtual experience will be rooted in Minneapolis, with a Welcome Reception, Learning Tour video experience, and special gift box to connect you directly with the Twin Cities and region. Register by September 30 to secure your spot and become a part of this year's Unity Summit!

NFG's staff & members will be hosting and presenting in several great sessions this year, including:
 

Moving Money to Grassroots with Inclusive, Intersectional, Equitable Practices

available as a pre-recorded session

In this powerful fire session, panelists share how their institutions are moving money to grassroots organizations with inclusive, intersectional and equitable practices. You'll learn about the money moving machinery needed to get resources to grassroots organizations — from technical needs and building relationships with local funders to internal practices that allow for deep engagement with movement organizations over the longer term. Featuring Melody Baker, Director of Programs for NFG's Amplify Fund, along with speakers from Borealis Philanthropy, Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ Out in the South Fund, Justice Funders, and Native Americans in Philanthropy.
 

Supporting Evocative and Impactful Multi-Racial Organizing in Rural America: Organizing to Win

available as a pre-recorded session

Rural spaces are being activated by multi-racial and multi-issue coalitions courageously fighting corporate power that has led to continued injustice against the environment, land, Indigenous populations, and workers. In this session, philanthropic leaders will workshop and unpack the structural inequities — including structural racism — at play in philanthropic assessments of funding rural work that lead to inequities in the funding landscape for rural BIPOC-led and serving organizations. Examples span the Gulf South, Black Belt, Midwest, and Long Island. Featuring Stephan Cheney, Senior Program Coordinator of NFG's Integrated Rural Strategies Group, along with speakers from the Long Island Community Foundation, Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights, Institute for the Advancement of Minority Health, and SEPAMujer Inc.
 

Philanthropy Forward Network Event

October 25 | 2 - 3:30pm CT

Philanthropy Forward is a CEO fellowship community for visionary leaders who center racial and gender justice and community power building to disrupt and transform the future of philanthropy. The purpose of the Philanthropy Forward network is to bring together CEOs of foundations to connect to one another, find nourishment, cross-pollinate, and self-organize. This event is for Philanthropy Forward’s current cohort and alumni community. Must be a member of the Philanthropy Forward network to attend.
 

NFG Program Event – Integrated Rural Strategies Group

October 25 | 2 - 3:30pm CT

Even with increased attention to rural, philanthropic resourcing of rural communities remains low — particularly organizing and power building infrastructure led by and serving BIPOC & multiracial communities. To support funders in bridging this gap, NFG’s Integrated Rural Strategies Group and Engage New York are partnering to support and mobilize funders to resource rural communities to advance equity. This workshop will provide an opportunity for program staff and/or board members of national and place-based foundations both large and small to connect. Recommended resources and a toolkit will be provided to continue the work beyond the Unity Summit.

We at NFG are excited to reconnect with folks & find new friends to co-conspire with at the Unity Summit. Make sure to register by September 30, and we'll see you there!

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September 13, 2021

Welcoming IRSG's Movement Advisors

NFG's Integrated Rural Strategies Group (IRSG) launched its inaugural committee of Movement Advisors in August 2021. These Advisors will deepen IRSG's work to increase philanthropy's accountability to rural movement leaders. These seven rural leaders reflect the powerful and broad diversity of rural communities, representing a range of geographies, issues, races, cultures, and more. What these leaders and their organizations all have in common is that they are organizing and building power in rural areas. Their work is core to building and preserving a true multiracial democracy and protecting the health, safety, economic opportunity, and ability for rural communities to thrive.

While IRSG and our partners hold existing relationships with each of these seven leaders, we are honored to formalize this year-long engagement by supporting these leaders with honoraria and providing a platform to lift up their work before philanthropy. IRSG will follow the Advisors' lead and center their priorities and strategies as we design our program offerings and resources. We look forward to opportunities to build relationships among the IRSG Movement Advisors and between the Advisors and funders in our network over the twelve month duration of this engagement, and in our shared work for years to come.


  

Angel Garcia (he/him/his)

California for Pesticide Reform & CAPS (Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety)
Agro-Citrus Lands of  Tulare County, CA

Email: Angel@pesticidereform.org 
Website: https://www.pesticidereform.org/

Angel is the Organizing Director with Californians for Pesticide Reform and founder of the Coalition Advocating for Pesticide Safety. Born and raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Angel also has deep ties to the Mixtec village of San Jeronimo nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Madre in southern Mexico. His previous experience includes working with transnational indigenous communities, farmworker families and rural families in the San Joaquin Valley. Angel holds a B.A. in Latin American & Latino Studies and Politics from University of California, Santa Cruz. He is based in Tulare County and is the proud parent of two kids – Anuri and Urian.


  

Eowyn Corral (they/she)

Dakota Rural Action
Dakota/Plains Region

Email: eowync@dakotarural.org
Website: www.dakotarural.org 

Eowyn Corral, director of development and programs at Dakota Rural Action and the current chair of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, has focused on local and regional food & ag policy for the last 10 years. Based in the Dakotas, the occupied lands of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nations), and utilizing grassroots community organizing as the foundation, Dakota Rural Action works on agricultural policy at the local, regional, national, and tribal arenas. Eowyn comes to this work via a love for fiber animals, seasonal foods, and textile arts. Originally from southern California and of Michoacán descent, Eowyn plans to find their way back to the west coast to raise animals on pasture on a multigenerational farm for the golden years of life.


  

Jaime Arredondo (he/him/él)

CAPACES Leadership Institute
Oregon

Email: jaime@capacesleadership.org 
Website: https://capacesleadership.org

Jaime is a proud immigrant from Las Ranas, Michoacan, Mexico. He has over 16 years of experience working in movement building community-based organizations. Some of his favorite roles have included: tour guide, smiles provider, peace maker, convener, agitator (with a smile), storyteller, and wannabe graphic designer and handy person.


  

Janssen Hang (he/him/his)

Hmong American Farmers Association
Midwest/Minnesota

Email: janssen@hmongfarmers.com
Website: https://www.hmongfarmers.com

Janssen Hang is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association. Janssen grew up growing, harvesting and selling vegetables for the local food economy and currently runs his family-owned value-added business making spring rolls and egg rolls at the downtown Saint Paul Farmers Market. A 2001 Saint Olaf graduate in Biology and Asian Studies, Janssen has over 20 years of experience in agriculture, 12 years in small business management, and 7 years as a licensed-real estate agent. Janssen is also one among just a few certified Hmong Mekongs (cultural broker). Janssen likes to spend his free time with his family in the outdoors.


  

Brandi Mack (she/her/we)

The Butterfly Movement
Sonora/Tuolumne County and Oakland, CA

Email: bhealthybholistic@gmail.com
Website: www.thebutterflymovement.com / www.brandimack.com

Brandi is a mother of three beautiful daughters, a Holistic Health Educator, Therapeutic Massage Therapist, Trauma-Informed Youth developer, Powerful Presenter, and Permaculture Designer. She holds a bachelor's degree in Human Service Management, and a certification from Star Hawk's Earth Activist Training. Brandi has worked and trained in holistic health and ecological sustainability with youth and adults for over 15 years. Brandi is currently the National Director of The Butterfly Movement which is committed to healing the wounds of our Soul (through Rebuilding and Re-Framing our emotional selves), planting a Seed of faith as we Regenerate and Reconnect our hearts and our hands to the earth, leading ultimately to manifestation in the Soil of our Reactivated lives!  

Currently, Brandi serves on the following boards: The North America Permaculture Magazine, Northern California Resilience Network and the Northern California Women in Permaculture.


  

Fabiola Ortiz Valdez (she/her/ella)

Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA)
Syracuse, NY

Email: fabiola@foodchainworkers.org 
Website: https://foodchainworkers.org

Fabiola is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. She worked as an organizer in her home country supporting the work of Zapatista communities in Chiapas. Fabiola has worked with migrant farmworkers in the U.S. since 2009, first as a health case manager and researcher in the egg, dairy, Apple, and blueberry industries in Maine. Later she worked as a researcher and labor organizer with dairy workers in New York at the Workers Center of CNY. She has also participated and led research projects with different immigrant communities across the country. Fabiola is currently the Lead Organizer for the Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA), a coalition of worker-based organizations whose members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food, organizing to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. Before joining FCWA Fabiola was an organizer for the New York immigration coalition (NYIC), an organization that advocates for immigrants rights in your state.  Fabiola currently lives in Syracuse, NY, she has a MA in Cultural Anthropology and is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology from Syracuse University. 


  

Julianne Jackson (she/her/they/them)

Partnership for Safety and Justice
Oregon

Email: julianne@safetyandjustice.org
Website: https://safetyandjustice.org

Julianne is a mom, survivor, and racial justice advocate who uses her voice to speak up for change. She is the founder of Black Joy Oregon, a grassroots advocacy group that promotes Black joy, female leadership development, and culture throughout Oregon. Prior to joining Partnership for Safety & Justice, Julianne worked in social services, mental health, and community education. She also has experience as an organizer in the labor movement, and she has served as committee chair for the Salem-Keizer NAACP. In her role at PSJ, she will continue to work tirelessly to advance racial and economic justice locally and across the state. In her off-time, you can find her performing as a singer songwriter and traveling Oregon.
 

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