Meyer Memorial Trust

Location: 425 Nw 10th Ave Ste 400, Portland, 97209 OR

EIN: 93-0806316

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Top descriptors for this funder

1Culturally sensitive1Positive leader in the field1Risk taker

Advice from a Friend

Meyer Memorial Trust

Apr 19, 2018

Reviewer 5402 - Professional in the field

I applaud Meyer for talking the talk and walking the walk when it comes to their work around equity and inclusion. They’ve hired a diverse staff and have placed women and people of color in leadership positions. Their outgoing ED has documented his own journey as a white cisgender man trying to be an ally to the many communities that make up our region. They support disruptors, innovators, and community-embedded organizations with substantial grants including the rare capacity building and general operating.

Meyer also embodies everything that drives grant writers crazy about foundations. Read “Progressive funders, you may be part of the problem” published on Nonprofit AF and you’ll know what I mean. Their 2-stage application is excessively exhaustive, repetitive, and at times unclear. Somewhere along the line I wondered if their process itself was equitable. I have years of practice with the heavy lifting some grants require and years of experience working with Meyer. What about smaller grassroots organizations Meyer purports to fund, where program staff or even the executive director are often the ones writing the grant? With all that Meyer demands, is it an equitable process for those with fewer resources?

What frustrates me most about working with Meyer is their lack of understanding or unwillingness to understand our organization’s own equity journey. As their ED wrote on his blog, he and Meyer have made mistakes in this work and hope to learn from them. Yet, that courtesy hasn’t been extended to us, in our transparency, without rebuke (declined funding), even after they expressed deep interest in our program; some even called it important. I can’t help but feel they are more worried about the optics of funding an organization that doesn’t meet their subjective definition of equity and inclusion, even though the program itself is the very embodiment of it.

Is Meyer worth pursuing? I think so. But consider the following statement from a report cited in the Nonprofit AF article: “While conservative funders usually treat their grantees like peers, whose work deserves long-term support, respect, and trust, too many progressive funders treat their grantees like disobedient children who need to be constantly watched and disciplined.”

As grant writers, we’re all aware of this dynamic and the inherently unfair power imbalance that exists between nonprofits and foundations. It certainly plays out that way with Meyer. Paternalistic and capricious is the way I would describe them. I just expected more from Meyer given the good work they have done to be a forward thinking grant maker.

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Feb 21, 2018

Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

They are committed to addressing equity and inclusion issues across the nonprofit sector.

Pros

Positive leader in the field, Risk taker, Culturally sensitive

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Oct 23, 2017

Reviewer 800 - Professional in the field

Meyer Memorial Trust has shifted its focus towards Equity Inclusion and Diversity work, and basically you are wasting your time currently unless you can demonstrate the organization is highly progressive in this aspect of operations, or the outcomes specifically benefit People of Color, or other minority populations. It feels as the pendulum has shifted so far over that it must swing back, as many outstanding organizations who either are working in areas without a diverse population (think Eastern Oregon), or are not doing work perceived as "valuable" in this struggle by the funder. I have also witnessed boards recoiling at being asked to fill out the demographic information, particularly around gender identity and sexual orientation. But without this "proof" of diversity MMT will not move an application forward any longer. Sad.

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Oct 05, 2017

Reviewer 884 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

Meyer has recently changed its overall funding focus to ensuring equity and changed the data required for a fund application and its required supporting grant request. This required an entirely new approach to the grant application. As their new focus they also are establishing their review criteria. They did hold a series of regional and online seminars which were helpful and are mandatory.

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Aug 29, 2017

Reviewer 345 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

Feels like there is still a lack of clarity about what their new portfolios are really meant to fund. We had been given feedback by program officers that we were really aligned with their interests and that we should apply but did not get the grant and received feedback afterward that we really should apply in the future. Having talked with other organizations every single one was told the same thing: you should really apply next time. Feels like it is just leading everyone on.

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Meyer Memorial Trust