Health & Education

Community Fund grant to aid Willamina students

12.29.2016 Dean Rhodes Education, Spirit Mountain Community Fund

One of the largest grants given out by Spirit Mountain Community Fund on Wednesday, Dec. 21, will potentially help local Tribal students attending Willamina School District by creating a room for special needs students.

The Willamina School District received a $50,000 challenge grant, which means the district has to put up matching funds to receive it.

During a recent Willamina School Board meeting, district officials reported that enrollment continues to increase and has reached 924 students with 492 in the elementary school, 150 in middle school and 282 in the high school. The student surge represents an increase of 18 students in the last month.

Elementary School Principal Sarah Norwood reported that the district has a high special education population and the district continues to keep enrolling students who need more instruction and attention than the average child.

District Superintendent Carrie Zimbrick said if the district continues to grow at this pace, there may be no other choice than to send a bond measure to voters. She said new housing construction in Willamina and Grand Ronde is contributing to the increase in students in the district.

About one-third of Willamina School District students are Native American and most of them are members of or descendants of members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

During the fourth-quarter check distribution, which was postponed from Dec. 14 because of a winter storm in the Willamette Valley, the Community Fund gave out 38 grants – 26 large grants and 12 small -- totaling $701,385, bringing the 2016 distribution to 156 grants totaling $4.4 million.

Since its inception in 1997, the Community Fund has given out 2,400 grants totaling $72.3 million.

The Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, receives 6 percent of proceeds from Spirit Mountain Casino and distributes that money through quarterly grants to nonprofit organizations in 11 northwestern Oregon counties and annually to the nine federally recognized Tribes in the state.

Tribal members Zoey Holsclaw, Santiago Atanacio and Jeff Mercier performed a welcome song to the approximately 23 agency representatives who attended.

Tribal Council member Jack Giffen Jr. also welcomed agency representatives to Grand Ronde.

“This Tribe has come a long ways since those days,” Giffen said while recounting the pre-Restoration tradition of returning to Grand Ronde annually to meet at the Tribal Cemetery on Memorial Day. “Spirit Mountain Casino has afforded this Tribe to build the infrastructure and bring back the culture of 27 different Tribes and Bands that is united today to make up what I call our modern-day culture.”

Giffen added that the Tribe continues to develop partnerships with nonprofits and educate Oregonians about the Grand Ronde Tribe.

Tribal Council members Denise Harvey, who is also a Community Fund Board of Trustees member, and Kathleen George, former Community Fund director, also attended the opening of the event.

As is customary, the Community Fund played a 12-minute video that briefly surveyed the Tribe’s history and discussed what effect Community Fund grants have had on other nonprofit organizations.

Acting Spirit Mountain Community Fund Director Louis King then read off the list of grant recipients while Sho Dozono, Community Fund Board of Trustees chairman, handed out checks while festively dressed in a Christmas cap.

Other recipients of large grants – more than $5,000 – were:

  • A Family For Every Child of Eugene, $25,000, for its family preservation and finding program;

  • Airway Science For Kids of Portland, $37,925, for its efforts to inspire young learners;

  • Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon located in Portland, $25,000, for its youth and parent empowerment program;

  • Black Parent Initiative of Portland, $25,000, for its “Pre-birth Through First 1,000 Days” initiative;

  • Bradley Angle House of Portland, $20,000, for culturally specific program capacity building;

  • Chess For Success of Portland, $25,000, for its “Athletics for the Mind” program;

  • Columbia Riverkeeper of Hood River, $20,000, for its “Clean Water Champions” effort;

  • Downtown Languages of Springfield, $15,000, to fund a family and youth program coordinator;

  • Falls City School District, $25,000, for its Family Academics Community and Enrichment for Success afterschool program;

  • KairosPDX of Portland, $30,000, for its “Family Impact” project;

  • Montessori Northwest of Portland, $25,000, for classroom expansion at its Alder location;

  • My Sisters’ Place of Newport, $15,000, for agency streamlining;

  • Native Fish Society Inc. of Oregon City, $25,000, for empowering, inspiring and growing a network of local grassroots advocates;

  • Neighborhood Economic Development Corp. of Springfield, $15,000, for its “Youth Food Innovators” program;

  • New Avenues For Youth of Portland, $25,000, to help fund its LGBTQ/mental health-focused life coach;

  • Northwest Outward Bound School of Portland, $15,000, for its program in Portland schools;

  • Northwest Youth Corps of Eugene, $30,000, for its Native American inclusion initiative;

  • Opehlia’s Place of Eugene, $16,500, for a pilot program with Bethel schools to empower girls;

  • Oregon CASA Network of Eugene, $20,000, for its “Diversity, Inclusion & Disproportionality” effort;

  • REAP Inc. of Portland, $30,000, to expand its “Solutions” program;

  • Salem Schools Foundation, $25,000, for its “Pathway to Post-Graduation Success” effort;

  • Self Enhancement Inc. of Portland, $50,000, for its “Youth Potential Realized” program;

  • Tillamook County Women’s Resource Center, $25,000, to fund domestic violence advocacy in health care;

  • Tillamook School District, $6,500, to fund its “Trauma Informed Practice” effort;

  • And Upstream Public Health of Portland, $25,000, for expanding its early childhood oral health program;

    Recipient of small grants -- $5,000 or less – were:

  • Boost Oregon of Portland, $5,000, to provide guides about childhood vaccinations for parents and health care providers;

  • Casa Latinos Unidos de Benton County of Corvallis, $5,000, for its “Aplicate! As Tu Tarea! (Apply Yourself! Do Your Homework!)” program;

  • Coastal Range Food Bank Inc. of Blodgett, $3,000, for its food assistance and nutrition program;

  • Joint Forces Dance Company of Eugene, $4,785, for its “EVERYBody Can Dance” program;

  • Kings Valley Community Trust of Philomath, $3,000, to purchase playground and winterized exercise equipment for its Youth Community Center;

  • Mid-Lane Cares of Veneta, $5,000, for its emergency food pantry;

  • MRG Foundation of Portland, $5,000, for its “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy, Reframed in Oregon” program;

  • Operation Nightwatch of Portland, $5,000, for a mental health initiative;

  • Parent Partnership of Cottage Grove, $5,000, for its McKinney Vento program;

  • Rose Haven of Portland, $5,000, for its “Bloom: Wellness and Empowerment for Women” effort;

  • Willamette Valley Law Project of Woodburn, $5,000, for its “Breaking Barriers” program at Woodburn Academy of International Studies;

  • And World Salmon Council Inc. of Portland, $4,675, for its “Salmon Watch” effort.

In the spirit of Potlatch, the Community Fund also raffled off three prizes that went to Operation Nightwatch, MRG Foundation and Joint Forces Dance Co.

After receiving their checks, agency representatives posed with Dozono for photographs taken by Tribal photographer Michelle Alaimo.


Includes information from the Yamhill County News Register.