George briefs General Council on Community Fund's past, future

01.09.2012 Ron Karten Spirit Mountain Community Fund

Tribal member Kathleen George, who took over as executive director of Spirit Mountain Community Fund in 2011, briefed the Tribal membership on the fund's past and gave indications about where it is headed in the future during the Jan. 8 General Council meeting held in the Tribal Community Center.

The Community Fund, which is the philanthropic arm of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, distributes 6 percent of Spirit Mountain Casino revenues to charitable organizations in an 11-county area, as well as to the state's nine federally recognized Tribes.

Grants are awarded in the categories of health, education, arts and culture, historic and environmental preservation, public safety and problem gambling. It is supervised by an eight-member Board of Trustees, which currently includes Tribal Council members Steven Bobb Sr., Reyn Leno and Toby McClary.

In 2011, the Community Fund awarded $2.97 million in grants.

"The Community Fund is important to the quality of life in northwest Oregon," George said, after telling General Council attendees how "wonderful" is was to return to the Tribe. "There continues to be a great time of need in Oregon. The requests for aid have exploded during the last few years."

George said that since 1997, when the Community Fund was created, 3,729 grant applications have been received and 1,706 funded. Over those 15 years, the Community Fund has awarded more than $55 million.

Since 2008, the Community Fund also has aided Oregon's nine Tribes through its Oregon Tribal Grants Program, distributing 24 Tribal grants totaling $1.074 million.

George said the Tribal Grants Program helps fill a need since Tribes customarily receive less support from philanthropic foundations.

For 2012, George said the Community Fund will concentrate on a new public information campaign that reminds Oregonians that the Community Fund exists because of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

"Every now and then, it is good to refresh that," George said about the direct connection between the Tribe, Spirit Mountain Casino and Community Fund.

She said the Community Fund also will work at revitalizing the Hatfield Fellowship, which places a Tribal member from Oregon or Washington in the office of a member of the Oregon congressional delegation for nine months to learn about the federal government and also to teach about Native American issues and culture.

She said the Community Fund also will continue to work with reduced funding levels because of the lower revenue coming from Spirit Mountain Casino.

"We want to continue to leave a legacy that is consistent with our Tribal values," George said.

In other action, Tribal member Melissa Chandler briefed the general membership on the Cultural Resources Site Protection Program as part of the cultural presentation.

Tribal Council member Steve Bobb Sr. gave the invocation to open the meeting and Tribal Elders Laura Gleason and Nancy Coleman and Tribal spouse Darlene Lafferty won the $50 door prizes while Tribal Elder Robert Nagel won the $100 door prize.

Louise Coulson, Cherie Butler and Linda Brandon were elected to the Elders' Committee and Richard Ray and Margaret Provost tied for the fourth open seat.

Ray and Provost will face off in a run-off election during the birthday meeting at the Elders' Activity Center between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25.

The next General Council meeting is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Tribal Community Center.