Location: 425 Nw 10th Ave Ste 400, Portland, 97209 OR
Types of Grants Awarded:
For Fiscal Year
Change in Assets FY :
Amount of Grants to Minnesota Nonprofits:
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.
Professional in the field
Grant Applicant - applied in 2017
They are committed to addressing equity and inclusion issues across the nonprofit sector.
Positive leader in the field, Risk taker, Culturally sensitive
Applied and not funded
The application expectations are laid out explicitly and are easy to find. It's a slightly-more-detailed-than-others application, but the expectations are clearly communicated. We had no confusion while working on the grant.
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.
Professional in the field
I think the pendulum has swung so far towards the EDI lens, that many organizations that formally did great, good and important work with their funding are now completely shut out.
Relook at the extreme requirements of where an organization with which you have had decades of successful funding experience are now unable to access funding.
There heart is in the right place, they just need to get their head screwed on right.
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.
Applied and not funded
They did hold regional sessions for group face to face and several online conf call reviews covering their new focus. I got a phone call after the rejection of our preliminary application that I wish could have been held beforehand. Their preliminary application required as much time as normal applications. Since we did not make the final round, I don't know what that work would have been.
They would like to provide equitable access which in a metropolitan area, you have enough population that actually has diversity in population. In rural areas, the diversity needs are for the elderly and youth. They said they took that into account but the website and seminars suggested our needs were out of sync with the bulk of the applicants from the metro.
The change in focus to diversity and equity is excellent but alter the tools, the supporting documents and even the application to get at the rest of Oregon outside Portland and Eugene. As one of the largest Oregon foundations, the characteristics of our rural population is elderly and youth as focus needs. 2nd, reach out to early applicants or requesters who you don't have experience with. We have made grants requests and even received one from Meyer but years ago. It would have been nice to make contact and pre-review and counseling on your new focus and application before doing all the work for rejection.
They changed their entire funding mission to advancing diversity and access which requires different data and a different tone in the application text than beforehand. Attend one of the regional sessions if possible or make a contact in Meyer if you haven't been a regular applicant.
Funds to expand programs and supporting services to reach elderly and youth populations for arts center in a rural town.
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.
Applied and not funded
Any time I've requested feedback or opportunities to talk to program staff they have been open to it, but when their feedback turns out to be the same that everyone else is hearing it doesn't actually feel like it was honest or direct.
They are incredibly focused on equity but there is no consistency or clarity on how that impacts the grant applications or decisions.