In the first year of the program, participants strengthened internal systems, built relationships, and grew their base of supporters.

As a social justice funder,  our position in the community is unique. MRG’s activist-led
grantmaking funds Oregon’s social justice movement in partnership with our grantees.
This year the Capacity Building Initiative (CBI), a joint project of MRG and Meyer Memorial
Trust, was established to work with both our grantees and philanthropic partners in new
ways. The CBI engages a cohort of grassroots social change groups in an innovative way,
while also deepening our understanding of the sector and our work.

The CBI provides grantees with multi-year funding, a statewide network of partners,
and skill building opportunities necessary to overcome growth and sustainability barriers
commonly faced by grassroots groups. In the first year of the program, participants
strengthened their internal systems, deepened relationships with funders, and grew
their base of supporters, but we at MRG also experienced a transformation. We were
challenged by our grantees and partners to be more transparent and accountable, which
inspired us to explore emergent strategies. This reflection, and our well-established
values, drove us to integrate Critical Race Theory as a tool to inform our shared learning
and identify shared values to strengthen relationships within the cohort and with our
philanthropic partners.

Our grantees, Oregon’s grassroots movement, and MRG have all been transformed
through the work of the CBI. Witnessing this work informs MRG and motivates us to
re-evaluate our effectiveness, listen deeply to our community, and continue to grow our
capacity in social justice philanthropy.

Stephan Herrera
Capacity Building Director, MRG Foundation