Community Fund surpasses $74 million mark in charitable contributions

06.14.2017 Dean Rhodes Spirit Mountain Community Fund

With 33 grants totaling $671,500 distributed on Wednesday, June 14, Spirit Mountain Community Fund surpassed the $74 million mark in charitable giving since it was formed 20 years ago.

In those two decades, the Tribe’s philanthropic arm has distributed 2,474 grants funded by 6 percent of proceeds from Spirit Mountain Casino.

Community Fund Director Mychal Cherry oversaw her second quarterly check distribution in the Governance Center Atrium since taking over the fund in February.

“You are here because your steadfast work in communities fulfills our mission,” Cherry said about the Tribal tradition of potlatch, or sharing the bounty. “We thank you very much for the work that you are doing.”

The Community Fund distributed seven small grants and 26 large grants to nonprofit organizations in 11 northwestern Oregon counties.

Tribal Council Chairman Reyn Leno and council members Tonya Gleason-Shepek, Kathleen George, Jack Giffen Jr. and Denise Harvey attended the event. Leno, Giffen and Harvey also serve on the Community Fund Board of Trustees, as does Spirit Mountain Casino Facilities Services Director Ron Reibach, who also attended.

After a video was shown that recounted the Tribe’s history and Board of Trustees Chairman Sho Dozono quizzed attendees on its contents, Leno made a special presentation to Julia Willis, Community Fund grants coordinator, who was a one-person show after Kathleen George was elected to Tribal Council in September 2016 and another staff member resigned and before Cherry was hired. Willis received a Tribal Pendleton blanket.

“We always want to recognize our employees. The ones who do the day-to-day work and really show their commitment to their jobs,” Leno said. “This lady here was the Community Fund. It needs to keep going and obviously we have a staff of three, but at one time this was the Community Fund. I think that it really showed that it is not just a job for her, it’s more of a commitment and a job. … She sets the example here for the employees at the Tribe.”

In a new wrinkle, a grant recipient representative spoke about their program. McMinnville School District teacher David Larson talked about the district’s Robotics League, which received a $25,000 large grant.

“Currently, we have a program where every single third-grader, as they go through their classes, they are learning how to program,” Larson said. “They are learning about basic mechanical engineering, a little bit about electrical engineering and from there there’s opportunities to join robotics teams as part of our after-school program. It’s really grown in the last few years, which I’m really proud of.”

Tribal Lands Manager Jan Looking Wolf Reibach opened the event by performing a welcoming song solo on drum.

Cherry also introduced Angela Sears, the Community Fund’s new program coordinator, who came over from working at the casino.

“It’s been an amazing experience so far. I feel blessed to be a part of the Community Fund and be a team member of an organization that funds such important projects like yours,” Sears said.

Recipients were:

Small grants

  • Clara’s Closet of Lincoln City, $5,000, to fund Safe Sleep for Lincoln County Newborns;

  • Friends of the Straub Environmental Center of Salem, $7,500, for its 2016-17 youth environmental educational programs;

  • McMinnville Area Habitat for Humanity, $6,154, for its Women Build program;

  • McMinnville Free Clinic, $5,000, to help fund the clinic in 2017;

  • Sheridan School District, $6,900, to fund classroom collaboration and student achievement;

  • Triangle Productions of Portland, $6,300, for its Brown Paper Bag series;

  • Yamhill Fire Protection District of Yamhill, $3,146, for its Digital Information project.

Large grants

  • Adelante Mujeres of Forest Grove, $30,000, for its School of Forgiveness and Reconciliation;

  • August Wilson Red Door Project of Portland, $15,000, to fund its monologue competition;

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Emerald Valley of Eugene, $15,000, for its Think Beginning in Grade School program;

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area, $35,000, for its Catalyst Campaign in the Rockwood area;

  • Caldera of Portland, $15,000, for its Portland Youth Mentoring Program;

  • Cascade Aids Project Inc. of Portland, $19,000, for its Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevention and Testing for All program;

  • Children’s Institute of Portland, $35,000, for Early Works, which provides building blocks for third-grade success;

  • Coalition of Communities of Color of Portland, $35,000, for “Bridges,” a leadership development institute;

  • Halprin Landscape Conservancy of Portland, $10,000, for its “Elements” program designed to rediscover Portland’s open space sequence;

  • Japanese Ancestral Society of Portland, $35,000, for its Minoru Yasui Film Project;

  • Latino Network of Portland, $20,000, for its culturally specific Latino ninth-grade counts Summer Bridge program;

  • Marion-Polk Food Share of Salem, $25,000, to replace a truck and sustain and expand its emergency food service capacity;

  • McMinnville School District, $25,000, for the district’s Robotics League;

  • Metropolitan Contractors Improvement Partnership of Portland, $35,000, for its Regional Minority Contractor Equity Initiative;

  • Morrison Child & Family Services of Portland, $15,000, for its planned and crisis respite care outreach effort;

  • Native American Youth Association of Portland, $25,000, for its Portland Equitable Energy Transition program;

  • Open School Inc. of Portland, $25,000, to foster culturally responsive practices to advance equity for students of color;

  • Our United Villages – The Rebuilding Center of Portland, $25,000, for its ReFind Education program aimed at Portland’s low-income youth;

  • Pearl Buck Center of Eugene, $20,000, for its Vocational Academy that offers employment-focused education for all abilities;

  • Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette Inc. of Portland, $35,000, for expanding accessible health care for vulnerable populations west of Portland;

  • Special Olympics Oregon Inc. of Portland, $25,000, for its Unified Champions schools;

  • Store to Door of Portland, $15,000, for nourishment and social connections for homebound Elders;

  • Tillamook Forest Heritage Trust of Tillamook, $60,000, for its Forest Center education pavilion;

  • University of Oregon Foundation of Eugene, $7,500, for its Native Language Community Storybook project;

  • Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition of West Linn, $15,000, for its master planning document for a state-of-the-art museum exhibit;

  • Youth Rights & Justice of Portland, $15,000, for breaking the school-to-prison pipeline through interdisciplinary advocacy for at-risk youth.

    • Japanese Ancestral Society of Portland, $35,000, for its Minoru Yasui Film Project;