$20,000 award to provide diversity & equity training

January 29, 2018

Meyer Memorial Trust awarded The Freshwater Trust a $20,000 grant to provide education on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to its staff and board of directors.

In 2017, Meyer awarded 193 grants totaling $22.7 million across four areas: Building community, equitable education, healthy environment and housing opportunities. The private foundation, which is not connected to Fred Meyer, Inc., has a mission to work with and invest in organizations, communities, ideas and efforts that contribute to a flourishing and equitable Oregon.

Approximately $3.9 million was provided to 39 organizations in their “Healthy Environment” portfolio to advance environmental equity. Conservation organizations such as the Oregon Natural Desert Association and Ecotrust were also awarded support last year.

“We see it as our responsibility as individuals and an entity working on the environment to educate ourselves about these issues, and this funding will help us to take the first step,” said Kimberlee Myers, operations director with TFT.

Upon receiving the grant, TFT hired the Center for Diversity and the Environment (CDE) to conduct trainings with staff this spring that will educate staff and help the organization to integrate DEI into programmatic work.

“There’s progress to be made on two fronts,” said Myers. “First, it’s about making sure that as a set of approximately 40 professionals, we are trained on how to navigate these issues and more intentionally foster an inclusive community. Second, we work on water, and diverse communities are impacted by management and conservation decisions. The solutions and tools we develop and employ should take equity into account.”

TFT plans to begin incorporating data about local communities into its BasinScout tool, which currently helps to map and prioritize the best places to perform river restoration.

In addition to evaluating DEI topics as they relate to program work, TFT will evaluate the inclusive nature of its operations and partnerships.

“Our ultimate goal is to start building a foundation that allows us to form partnerships with social impact organizations – something we want to do more of in the future and know we need more training on today,” said Myers. “Communities impact water. Water impacts communities. The two are intertwined, no matter where you are in the world.”

According to Meyer Memorial Trust, many of the grant applications it has received from environmental organizations focused on incorporating DEI lenses into their work.

“This is not just something we’re grappling with alone,” said Myers. “It’s something we all need to be investing in and Meyer’s support will help us to do so.”

In September, the Portland Tribune highlighted the problem as field wide, across environmental nonprofits and especially in the state of Oregon.

“We are beginning to see a shift in how Oregon’s mainstream environmental nonprofits think about diversity, equity and inclusion in relation to their work,” said Jill Fuglister, director of Meyer’s Healthy Environment portfolio. “They are starting to understand that their missions to protect and restore ecosystems are inextricably linked to building meaningful relationships with all of Oregon’s diverse communities and they are learning to do their work in new ways to ensure that the benefits of a healthy environment reach all communities.”

CDE, headquartered in Portland, leads organizational trainings, workshops, internal audits and keynote lectures on DEI topics. In 2016, 20 trainings were delivered to more than 800 professionals. CDE is also home to the nationwide network, Environmental Professionals of Color (EPOC), a space by and for people of color working in the environmental movement.

“We’re honored to be filling an important need in the environmental community,” said Queta González, Director of CDE. “Wholehearted engagement in the transformational work of equity, diversity and inclusion is integral to creating a vibrant environmental movement.”