Community Fund surpasses $81 million mark in giving

06.12.2019 Danielle Frost Spirit Mountain Community Fund
CASA Marion County Executive Director Shaney Starr, right, shakes hands with Spirit Mountain Community Fund Grants Coordinator Jesse Knight during the Spirit Mountain Community Fund second quarter check presentation held in the Governance Center on Wednesday, June 12. CASA Marion County was one of 29 organizations that received funding during the event. (Photo by Timothy J. Gonzalez/Smoke Signals)

By Danielle Frost

Smoke Signals staff writer

The awarding of 21 large grants and eight small grants totaling $730,875 on Wednesday, June 12, propelled Spirit Mountain Community Fund past the $81 million in giving since it was started in 1997.

The 29 grants also increased the number of grants awarded during the last 22 years to 2,755, which have been distributed to 1,163 nonprofit organizations in 11 northwest Oregon counties.

The Tribe’s philanthropic entity held its second-quarter check presentation in the Governance Center Atrium. The Community Fund receives 6 percent of Spirit Mountain Casino proceeds to distribute to charitable groups in the areas of health, education, public safety and environmental preservation, among others.

The presentation opened with an invocation and drum song by Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George. Other Tribal Council attendees included Jack Giffen Jr., Kathleen George and Denise Harvey, who also serve on the Community Fund’s Board of Trustees.

Afterward, a video was shown that highlighted the history of the Tribe and Community Fund, as well as the work done by some past and current grant recipients.

“Please give yourself a hand for the amazing work you all are doing,” Community Fund Executive Director Michael Cherry said.

This quarter’s highlighted grant recipient was SPOON, an organization dedicated to helping with the feeding and nutrition to children without families and those with disabilities, both internationally and locally.

The Portland-based organization was founded in 2007 by Cindy Kaplan and Mishelle Rudzinski shortly after they adopted children from Kazakhstan and saw a great need surrounding food and nutrition.

“Because of the funding we receive from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, this year we will be able to reach 700 caregivers and 2,000 children,” said SPOON Director of Engagement Aaron Babbie.

Community Fund Program Coordinator Angela Sears announced grantees’ names while Cherry, Grant Coordinator Jesse Knight, Board of Trustees Chair Chip Lazenby, Giffen and Harvey shook recipients’ hands.

“Thank you for all of the work you do to make a difference in our community,” Harvey said. “This is my most favorite part of the job. I’m very proud of the Community Fund.”

Following the check presentation, Marion-Polk Food Share won a Pendleton blanket that was raffled off.  

Large grant recipients during the June 12 event were:

  • Juliette’s House of McMinnville, $50,000, for its “Prevention Arc” project;
  • Bradley Angle House of Multnomah County, $25,000, for culturally specific program support;
  • Direction Services of Lane County, $24,724, for its “Access, Equality and Inclusion: Improving Education for Youth and Disabilities” project;
  • Food Roots of Tillamook County, $30,000, for its “Farm to School” program;
  • Liberty House of Salem, $50,000, for providing comprehensive care for abused children;
  • Marion-Polk Food Share of Salem, $25,000, to help fund warehouse improvement by replacing a freezer;
  • Tucker Maxon School of Portland, $45,000, to fund early intervention for pre-school children who are deaf or have difficulty hearing;
  • Reading Results of Multnomah County, $39,500, for its “Read to Succeed: Increasing Access for All” project;
  • Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare of Multnomah County, $29,751, for its Garlington Center wellness program;
  • CASA of Lane County, $31,600, for its “Serving the Need” project;
  • Bethel Education Foundation of Lane County, $39,500, for its “Kids in Transition to School” project;
  • SPOON Foundation of Multnomah County, $23,700, for its “Nourishing Oregon’s Foster Children” project;
  • Black United Fund of Oregon Inc. of Multnomah County, $15,800, for its “Mentor4Success” project;
  • Music Workshop of Washington County, $35,550, for its culture series regarding Native America music;
  • Cascade Aids Project Inc. of Multnomah County, $39,500, for its “LGBTQ+ Mental Health” program;
  • Financial Beginnings Oregon of Multnomah County, $19,750, for creating financial education opportunities for low-income Oregonians;
  • Salem Free Clinics, $39,500, to increase dental care for the uninsured in Marion and Polk counties;
  • CASA of Linn County, $15,000, to increase advocacy for abused and neglected children in foster care;
  • Native Fish Society Inc. of Clackamas County, $35,000, for its “ReWild the Willamette” project;
  • CASA of Marion County Inc., $35,000, to provide court-appointed special advocates for youth in juvenile delinquency;
  • United Way of the Columbia-Willamette of Multnomah County, $32,000, to fund the Census Equity Funders Committee of Oregon.

Smalls grants were awarded to:

  • Children’s Book Bank of Multnomah County, $6,000, for its “A Story Like Mine: For Native American children” project;
  • Elevate Oregon of Multnomah County, $7,500, to help Parkrose High School youth carve a path to post-secondary opportunities;
  • Family Justice Center of Washington County, $7,500, for its community outreach capacity building effort;
  • Fresh & Local First of Benton County, $7,500, to fund SNAP   match at farmer’s markets in Linn and Benton counties;
  • Horses Adaptive Riding and Therapy of Marion County, $3,000, to fund equine-assisted learning certification and training;
  • Northwest Kidney Kids of Multnomah County, $7,500, to fund youth and family Kidney Kids Camps;
  • The School Garden Project of Lane County, $7,500, for its school garden project;
  • Yamhill Watershed Stewardship Fund of Yamhill County, $3,500, for Newberg water quality and aquatic habitat enhancements.