Tribal Government & News

General Council briefed on Spirit Mountain Community Fund

12.14.2020 Danielle Harrison General Council, Spirit Mountain Community Fund


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals staff writer

Spirit Mountain Community Fund Director Michael Cherry briefed Tribal members on highlights of the fund’s 2019 annual report during the Sunday, Dec. 6, General Council meeting held via the Zoom video conferencing application.

During the meeting, Cherry shared more about the Community Fund, its mission, and various goals and objectives.

“We really want to honor our sovereignty and our culture as a Community Fund, and those generations that come after us,” Cherry said.

The Community Fund was founded in 1997 as the philanthropic arm of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. 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 in the past 23 years is 2,908 for a total of $84.97 million. 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.

Community Fund programs  also include the Hatfield Fellowship, Junior Hatfield Fellowship, Ye lan Lima Helping Hands and a new youth grant making program called Tenes Palach-Kilapay. Implementation of that program was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to start that in 2021,” Cherry said.

Community Fund goals are to increase knowledge and understanding of Tribal culture, history and values, contribute to the well-being and success of the Tribe through responsible Community Fund management, be positive ambassadors of the fund, build and strengthen new and existing relationships with community partners, and strengthen the fund in Oregon as a key partner in Tribal philanthropy.

“Our main objectives are community awareness, engagement, operating efficiently and training to make sure we are doing the work we set out to do,” Cherry said.

Accomplishments in 2019 included:

  • Hosting eight grant writing workshops;
  • Four “meet the funder” events;
  • Two Tribal funder panels and four Hatfield presentations;
  • Conducting 28 site visits;
  • Creation of two youth programs;
  • New Community Fund display at Spirit Mountain Casino;
  • Four check presentations with 180 attendees representing 115 organizations;
  • And adding two new priority grant funding areas to the health category.

“We usually do a lot of outreach, but this year we had to keep it all virtual because of the pandemic,” Cherry said. “We conducted 12 grant writing online workshops. It’s very important to help keep these connections.”

Cherry said she is excited to have the display wall installed at the casino.

“It was in the works for a number of years,” Cherry said. “I’m happy we can showcase the work and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Following her presentation, Cherry took two questions from Tribal attendees.

Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy noted that it is a “great thing” the Tribe is in a position to help during uncertain times.

“We have been able to help many people in the state of Oregon,” she said.  

In other action, it was announced that the next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 3, via Zoom with a program report from the Education Department.

Since the annual Tribal Council Christmas party was canceled due to the pandemic, an online raffle drawing was held instead. Winners included Eric Bernando, Charles Haller, Angella Schultz, Debi Anderson and Joanna Brisbois, $50; and Dave Leno and Toby Ambrose, $100.

Elaine Robertson won a Pendleton blanket donated by the Community Fund, and Tiny Gibbons, Val Alexander and Anthony Quenelle won necklaces.

The meeting can be viewed by visiting the Tribal government’s website at and clicking on the Government tab and then Videos.

The 2019 Community Fund annual report can be viewed at