A Letter from Max
It's hard to believe that we are nearly half-way through the year! Spring flew by at the Foundation with many projects, just a few of which I’ll mention here.
Students in our Community 101 program have been busy making grant presentations to nonprofits that they visited, volunteered with and vetted; the OCF board of directors approved more than $8.7 million in grants; and in Portland, White City and Baker City, our volunteer leadership council members participated in a program to encourage civil conversations among people with different points of view. All good work!
We also welcomed more than 850 friends to our May annual meeting, which featured author Wes Moore, who spoke about the influences that make a lifetime of difference in the lives of children.
Whether it's on our website, through our publications or on Facebook, I hope you take a few minutes to find out more about what is happening across Oregon through the generosity of our donors and the impact of nonprofits. It's a testament to the good will and great work that happens when people come together to make our state stronger.
Many thanks for all that you do. Have a safe and relaxing summer!
President and CEO
Closing the Gap: OCF's 43rd Annual Luncheon
Conversations hushed as Board Chair Tim Mabry kicked off OCF's 43rd Annual Luncheon. More than 850 people gathered in Portland to hear an update on the Foundation's work and listen to keynote speaker Wes Moore. Mabry announced three new board members – Bill Berg, Su Embree and Patrick Reiten – before handing the gavel over to incoming chair Kirby Dyess.
Through donors' generosity, OCF was able to distribute $108 million in grants and scholarships around the state. “We're strengthening communities' vitality and improving life for all Oregonians,” said President and CEO Max Williams. “But we need to do more.” He pointed out that in Oregon many children of color, and rural and low-income children don’t have the same opportunities to learn and thrive as other children do
– with life-long consequences.
Williams’s reminder that “opportunity is dependent on the 'birth lottery'” was echoed by Moore, who grew up fatherless in Baltimore and the Bronx. By age 11 he was in handcuffs, and in military school at 18. The latter “made all the difference,” he said. He tells his story in his bestseller, "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates," along with that of a man with the same name – but very different life outcomes. The two were born within a year of each other and just blocks apart in Baltimore and both had difficult childhoods. How could one end up robbing a jewelry store and killing a policeman, while this captivating speaker once served as a White House Fellow and now works to increase opportunities for youth growing up in poverty? “There were people who believed in me, before I did, myself, and helped me understand that I belonged,” said Moore of his youth. “There are young people all over the state who wonder if they belong. They need champions.”
Moore summed it up: “When it's time to leave the planet, make sure it matters that you were here.” It was a message that resonated deeply with OCF donors, volunteers and friends.
OCF welcomes new board members
Bill Berg, Su Embree and Patrick Reiten have been elected to the OCF board of directors.
Bill Berg is the founder and president of Sigma Investment Management Company, a Portland-based wealth management company. Prior to founding Sigma, he practiced corporate and securities law with Stoel Rives. He has served on OCF’s investment committee since 2004 and has been committee chair since 2012.
Su Embree is president of DHM Research, an opinion research firm based in Portland, with offices in Seattle and Washington, DC. She dedicates her time to understanding the values and beliefs of people on issues like transportation, public health and education. Su serves on the OCF development and marketing committee and is also president of Entrepreneurs' Organization, Portland.
Patrick Reiten is senior vice president of government relations at Berkshire Hathaway Energy. Prior to his current role, he was president and chief executive officer of PacifiCorp Transmission. Reiten served as an aide to U.S. Sen. Mark O. Hatfield and also served as an official in several different capacities at the U.S. Department of Interior.
“We are excited to have these three community leaders join our board,” said OCF President and CEO Max Williams. “We know they will help us with the important work OCF does to serve communities around the state.”
Funders unite to address immigrant and refugee needs
OCF has joined with The Collins Foundation, the MRG Foundation and Meyer Memorial Trust to launch the Oregon Immigrant and Refugee Funders Collaborative. The Collaborative creates a coordinated funding approach to issues affecting immigrants and refugees in the state. Requests will be considered for projects that provide:
- Legal information, advice, services and representation for immigrants and refugees;
Outreach and education about policies, programs, services and preparedness;
- Information gathering, research and analysis on immigration and refugee issues;
- Basic human needs for immigrants and refugees; and
Community organizing, civic engagement and advocacy.
Members of the funders collaborative share a common application form. Nonprofit and community groups are encouraged to reach out to any of the participating funders by email or telephone.
OCF launches Oregon Impact Fund to provide capital to organizations
The Foundation created the Oregon Impact Fund to provide a source of growth funds for nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies that are addressing problems facing urban and rural communities, such as access to housing, health care and jobs. Impact investments produce a financial return in addition to having a positive impact on society.
The fund launched with $10 million in investments and a goal of reaching $20 million. OCF donors have committed $5 million to date and their investments are being matched by OCF. Initial investors are Tom Bowerman, Cindy and Duncan Campbell, the Gray Family Foundation, the Headwaters Fund of OCF, Chris and Tom Neilsen, Barre and Robert Stoll, Dave and Christine Vernier, and Hon. Randy Weisberg.
The Oregon Impact Fund is the latest in a series of efforts that OCF has invested in to improve access to capital for Oregon companies and nonprofits. OCF launched a pilot program in 2013 and has provided $2.75 million in loans to organizations such as Craft3, Ascent Funding, CASA of Oregon and Ecotrust.
For the love of cats
The last thing Susan Carey wanted was a lot of attention for herself. But she loved giving it to others. So after 16 years with Willamette Humane Society, a big retirement party was out of the question. BJ Andersen, executive director, wanted to do something for her, though. And it would be a surprise.
For 12 years, Andersen had seen Carey's “quiet devotion,” she says. In her roles as executive director and then development director, Carey led the capital campaign for a low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter clinic. She took on the daunting task of developing consistent organizational procedures. And though everyone felt grateful for the volunteer veterinarians, their schedules varied too much, so she hired a vet on contract.
“It was important that the organization acknowledge Susan’s incredible contributions and huge impact,” says Andersen. And then it hit her: Start an OCF endowment fund. Years ago, Carey had convinced the board to do this and now it was time to add another fund for the organization.
In less than two months, Andersen and staff collected the $25,000 in donations, keeping it secret from Carey. At a stewardship-appreciation event, she received a certificate for The Susan Carey Cat Advancement Fund, honoring her dedicated service and love of cats. For someone who’s “not a publicly emotional person,” says Andersen of Carey, the tears flowed.
Carey says, “I'm delighted that my friends and colleagues have allowed my contribution to continue long after I’m gone. What better way to express gratitude for a life's work?"
And the fund will only continue to grow – further stabilizing Willamette Humane Society’s future.
Living and learning in the great outdoors
With a working ranch as their classroom, Oregon’s high school students come to BRIARR House (Burnt River Integrated Agricultural Research Ranch), in northeastern Oregon, to learn everything from beekeeping to animal and watershed sciences.
With the help of a $5,000 OCF grant, the Powder Basin Watershed Council has teamed up with BRIARR house to offer more hands-on learning. In addition, students can take courses at local high schools and online for college credit through Treasure Valley Community College.
Through this combination of classroom-based, online and hands-on learning, the BRIARR House staff are making the Burnt River school district and the remote city of Unity a center for inventive learning.