Community Fund nears $85 million mark in giving

12.14.2020 Danielle Harrison Spirit Mountain Community Fund


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals staff writer 

Spirit Mountain Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, has awarded millions in nonprofit grants since it was formed in 1997.

In total, the Community Fund distributed $697,323 in grants to 15 nonprofits and to eight of the nine Oregon Tribes for the fourth quarter, bringing the total giving in the past 23 years to $84.97 million.

In accordance with the Tribe’s gaming compact with the state of Oregon, the fund awards 6 percent of net income from Spirit Mountain Casino in grants. It is governed by an eight-member Board of Trustees.

The number of grants awarded since 1997 is 2,908. Grants have been distributed to nonprofit organizations in 11 northwest Oregon counties for the purposes of supporting education, health, arts and culture, environment, historic preservation, public safety and problem gaming, and to the nine federally recognized Tribes in Oregon under a Tribal Grants program.

Due to the pandemic, the in-person check presentation ceremony on the Tribal campus has been canceled until further notice. Community Fund Director Michael Cherry has said she is confident that the giving will continue in 2021, although it may look different due to Spirit Mountain Casino being closed for 74 days in 2020. The casino sets aside a portion of its annual earnings for charitable donations through the Community Fund.

Going forward, the focus of the Community Fund and its board is on marginalized communities who already faced struggles and lacked access to services before the pandemic hit, although it will continue to provide support to nonprofits responding to challenges created by or worsened by the pandemic.  

Large grant recipients are:

  • Sexual Assault Resource Center of Beaverton, $35,472, for a comprehensive community-level sexual assault prevention program;
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon, $17,750, for its Rural Wish program;
  • HIV Alliance of Eugene, $17,750, for peer support for people who inject drugs in Marion County program;
  • Native Fish Society of Oregon City, $17,750, for its Growing the Grassroots in Northern Oregon program;
  • Raphael House of Portland, $17,750, for its Safe, Stable Futures for Domestic Violence Survivors and Their Children program;
  • Downtown English of Springfield, $17,750, for its Pilas Family Literacy Program;
  • Salem-Keizer Coalition For Equality, $24,850, for its Latino/a/x Parent’s Key to Mitigate Coronavirus Educational Loss Crisis;
  • CASA of Lane County, $28,400, for its Fortify program;
  • Juliette’s House of McMinnville, $35,500, for its Prevention Education and COVID-19 Resilience program;
  • Liberty House of Salem Child Abuse Frontline Providers, $35,500, to fund a Liberty House pediatrician;
  • And Northwest Youth Corps of Eugene, $26,851, for the Opportunity Youth Service Initiative.

Small grant recipients are:

  • Our Community Birth Center of Eugene, $7,500, for its Decreasing Maternal Mortality Through Access to Midwifery Birth Center Care program;
  • David’s Harp of Portland, $5,000, for accessible mental health treatment and community resources remote and in person;
  • Friends of Tryon Creek of Portland, $6,500, for its Preserving Culture & Education During Uncertain Times program;
  • And the American Legion of Philomath, $3,000, for the Philomath Farmer’s Market enablement.

Oregon Tribal Grant Awards are:

  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, $50,000, for its Financial Literacy and Tools program;
  • Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians, $50,000, for the second phase of the Tribe’s Tribal Museum & Cultural Center;
  • Coquille Indian Tribe, $50,000, for health care equipment for the Ko Kwel Wellness Center;
  • Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, $50,000, for its Kindred Spirits program;
  • Burns Paiute Tribe, $50,000, for the first phase of the Tribe’s West Yapa housing expansion;
  • Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, $50,000, for the Tribe’s Immersion Preschool construction project;
  • The Klamath Tribes, $50,000, for the Youth Initiative Program capital equipment project;
  • And Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, $50,000, for Ghii Dee-Dvn, A Place For the People.