Tribal Government & News

General Council membership briefed on Community Fund

04.12.2024 Danielle Harrison General Council, Spirit Mountain Community Fund


By Danielle Harrison

Smoke Signals editor

Spirit Mountain Community Fund Executive Director Angela Sears briefed the membership on the fund and its various grant awards during a Sunday, April 7, General Council meeting held via Zoom and at the Lane Community College Longhouse in Eugene.

Sears began her presentation to the Tribal audience with an overview of the Community Fund, which was created as part of the Tribe’s gaming compact with the state of Oregon. It is supervised by an eight-member Board of Trustees that includes Tribal Council members Denise Harvey, Brenda Tuomi and Michael Cherry, who is also a former Community Fund director.

The first grants ever awarded were to Life Flight Network and the Portland Art Museum in 1997.

As of the first quarter of 2024, the Grand Ronde Tribe’s philanthropic giving now exceeds $97 million with 3,309 grants awarded since 1997.

“I think of how far we have come and now to being in a place to equip communities with almost $100 million,” Sears said. “I’m super proud of who we are and am grateful to Tribal leaders who had the foresight to create this fund.”

Sears also introduced Community Fund employees in attendance, which included Program Coordinator Angela Schlappie and Administrative Assistant Pamala Warren-Chase.

Sears said The Community Fund receives 6 percent of proceeds from Spirit Mountain Casino and awards that money to nonprofits in 11 northwest Oregon counties to fund efforts in the areas of arts and culture, environmental preservation, education, health, historic preservation and public safety, and to the nine federally recognized Tribes in Oregon under the fund’s Tribal Grants program.

Large grant awards are $50,000 maximum for program requests and $100,000 for capital requests, and small grants are a $7,500 maximum. Annual Tribal grants are a $100,000 maximum. All grants are for a 12-month period.

Schlappie presented a 2023 funding breakdown and information about the Youth Grantmaking Program, which began in 2022 as a way to engage Native high school students with philanthropy and community service.

In 2023, the Community Fund awarded 41 small grants totaling $281,000, 71 large grants totaling $2.95 million, seven Tribal grants totaling $700,000 and five youth grants totaling $25,000.

Schlappie also discussed the Hatfield Fellowship program. Spirit Mountain Community Fund annually sponsors a Native American to serve as the Hatfield Fellow and intern in an Oregon congressional office. Placement of the fellow rotates through the Oregon delegation to enhance mutual understanding between leadership in Washington, D.C., and Indian Country.

Fellows are provided an opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of how to navigate the political process in Washington, D.C., while working on issues that affect Native Americans.

Applications for the 2024-25 Hatfield Fellowship program are being accepted through Tuesday, April 30. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a bachelor’s degree.

No questions were asked after the 35-minute presentation was completed.  

“Thank you to the Community Fund staff for representing the fund,” Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy said. “It’s a very worthwhile thing the Tribe decided to do years ago. We knew then there are many worthy organizations out there that didn’t receive funding…This follows our cultural beliefs to be giving and generous people.”

In other action, door prize winners were Bill Stephens, Lee Ann Huffman and Brendyn Smallwood, $100 each; and Tyla LaGoy, Jack Giffen Jr., Kameron Crosman, Les Houck and Ester LaGoy, $50 each. Giffen donated his winnings to Canoe Journey.

The next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 5, on Zoom and in Tribal Council Chambers. It will feature a report from the Education Department.

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