MRG activist led grantmakers celebrate a hard days work. All in a group with their hands raised.

MRG Foundation is awarding $225,000 to eighteen social change groups across Oregon. The grants awarded this cycle support groups participating not only in their communities but also as a part of larger national and state-wide movements. Grantees are mobilizing around movements such as Black Lives Matter and Renter’s State of Emergency in order build solidarity and power to further their ability to guarantee equitable treatment and opportunity for all Oregonians.

Uhuru Sa Sa, a group of Black men organizing in the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), is a new group to MRG and is organizing to end systemic racism inside the prison. Uhuru Sa Sa members recognize that they are experiencing many of the same challenges Black men face outside of the prison system; they can’t get jobs or consistent access to educational programs. They have come together to promote positive change, eliminate racism within OSP, and help those currently incarcerated receive transitional services. Uhuru Sa Sa embodies this connection to national movements as they use the energy of Black Lives Matter to support their community inside of the OSP and to build and strengthen relationship with communities organizing outside of the prison system to ensure that all Black lives matter.

Each of the groups we are funding is working in new and creative ways that express and build solidarity with national movements and work to make Oregon a just and joyful place for everyone. Learn more about the grantees and their work:

Young activists hold a sign during a protest.

CAPACES Leadership Institute.

African Women’s Coalition Portland – $9,000

African Women’s Coalition (AWC) empowers and mobilizes African women to advocate for solutions to a wide range of issues they face including resettlement, language barriers, trauma from conflict and disaster, and cultural preservation. More than 200 women from 31 African countries are members of AWC.

 African Youth Community Organization – Portland – $9,000 – New to MRG

African Youth Community Organization (AYCO) works to empower immigrants and refugees from African and other diaspora countries. AYCO is dedicated to developing leaders and advocates in the immigrant and refugee community by utilizing education, leadership development, and civic engagement to build greater community engagement and involvement.

CAPACES Leadership Institute – Woodburn – $18,000

Founded by a network of nine community based, Latinx-led social change organizations in the Mid-Willamette Valley, CAPACES Leadership Institute develops the skills and abilities of Oregon’s Latinx leaders. CAPACES empowers emerging and established progressive leaders to put into practice the big ideas and values that define the Latinx movement.

Central Oregon Jobs with Justice – Bend – $10,000

Central Oregon Jobs with Justice is a coalition of 25 labor, community, and human rights groups. Central Oregon Jobs with Justice organized to protect and advance the right to organize, defend working people, fight for job security and safe working conditions, and support contract campaigns and strikes. They have won concrete victories in Central Oregon, including higher living standards, better working conditions, and increased rights for immigrants, people of color, people living with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.

 Civil Liberties Defense Center – Eugene – $18,000

Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) strengthens grassroots activism in Oregon by educating people about their rights, providing legal defense for community activists, and challenging the persistent erosion of civil liberties. Since 2003, CLDC has represented over 140 environmental, animal, and social rights nonviolent civil disobedience protesters.

Community Alliance of Tenants – Portland – $22,000

As Oregon’s only grassroots, tenant-controlled, tenant-rights organization, the Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) develops the leadership of low-income tenants to hold landlords and public officials accountable for unjust housing policies and practices. As rent continues to skyrocket, CAT has called for a Renter’s State of Emergency, campaigning for inclusionary zoning laws and an end to no-cause evictions and unreasonable rent increases.

Community Alliance of Tenants rally.

Community Alliance of Tenants Rally

 Coos Community Radio – Coos Bay – $9,000 New to MRG

Coos Community Radio supports community goals and socially progressive objectives by allowing everyday citizens the chance to become creative contributors and expand the local consciousness. Coos Community Radio builds community by bringing people together, filling needs that other media do not, and providing a voice to the underserved. They promote locally produced news, music, entertainment, local feature, and information that are reflective of the diverse talents and interests of their community.

 Human Dignity Coalition – Bend – $10,000

Founded in response to the virulent anti-gay ballot measures of the 1990’s, Human Dignity Coalition brings together diverse voices to create a grassroots social change movement in Central Oregon. HDC advances human dignity and equity for LGBTQ people through their organizing, education, and leadership development work.

Instituto In Xocitl In Cuicatl Art and Culture – Portland- $9,000 New to MRG

Youth create a mural with our partner Instituto In Xocitl In Cuicatl Art and Culture.

Instituto In Xocitl In Cuicatl Art and Culture

Instituto In Xocitl In Cuicatl Art and Culture offers on-going opportunities to youth coming out of treatment or detention centers. They provide opportunities to heal through various art and cultural practices that give youth and their families a platform to grow, express themselves, and share sacred space with a broader community. Currently they are working on bringing those art and cultural practices to youth inside the local juvenile detention center to reach those most impacted and support them in developing the skills necessary for success.

Latino Club – Salem- $6,000

Located in the Oregon State Penitentiary, Latino Club’s vision is to create an environment within the prison that ensures everyone has the same access to education and work opportunities, regardless of race or ability to speak English. By tackling issues of racism and discrimination, the Latino Club helps their members successfully transition back into their communities.

Living Stages – Portland – $9,000

Living stages actors perform.

Living Stages Forum Theater Convergence Performance

Living Stages is a theatre organization built around the Theatre of the Oppressed model and creates a space for community reflection, empowerment, and collective action. Living Stages uses theater to train new leaders among those most impacted by systemic oppression by building anti-oppression tools and strategies on stage that can be used in wider life. Living Stages’ Streets to Stages program builds theatre teams with participants who are low-income or experiencing homelessness, and bring the teams together for a Forum Theatre Convergence to discuss and debate political responses and collective action to current issues.

Northwest Forest Workers Center – Medford – $20,000- New to MRG

The mission of the Northwest Forest Worker Center (NFWC) is to promote forest stewardship that is respectful of all forest workers and harvesters and the land. The majority of people in the woods are an invisible workforce of ecosystem restoration workers and harvesters of non-timber forest products. These workers and harvesters come from many different cultural backgrounds, yet are all impacted by an economic system that sees labor and natural resources simply as inputs to capital. The NFWC has thus focused on community organizing to build a more sustainable and just society from the grassroots up.

OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon – Portland – $18,000

OPAL organizes low-income communities of color in East Portland to advance racial, environmental, and economic justice. Through their Bus Riders Unite initiative, OPAL is putting transit-dependent riders at the decision-making table with TriMet and establishing a more equitable transit system for all Portland Metro area riders. They are fighting back against historic inequality in their communities’ experience, by working at the intersection of transportation, housing, land use and climate policy.

Portland Jobs with Justice – Portland – $18,000

Portland Jobs with Justice is a coalition of 90 labor, community, student, and faith-based groups who are united to defend the rights of all working people and advance social and economic justice for all members of the community. Portland Jobs with Justice engages unlikely allies to shift the balance of power so that everyone can have a decent standard of living, job security, and the right to organize.

Red Earth Descendants – Ashland – $7,000

Red Earth Descendants (RED) is a grassroots, indigenous-based organization committed to creating healthy, sustainable community while preserving Native American values, traditions, and culture. RED joins together indigenous youth, elders, families, and regional tribes to share knowledge and skills, celebrate their culture, and preserve their way of life.

Red Lodge Transition Services – Portland – $18,000

Native Americans are grossly over-represented in Oregon’s prison population. Red Lodge Transition Services is a Native American organization working to reduce recidivism, prevent intergenerational incarceration, and challenge the Oregon Department of Corrections to address religious freedom and basic human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Uhuru Sa Sa – Portland – $5,000 New to MRG

Located in the Oregon State Penitentiary, Uhuru Sa Sa’s vision is to promote productivity and positive change, eliminate racist tactics within Oregon’s prison system, and help those currently incarcerated receive transitional services. In addition, they are creating a curriculum that relays their experiences in the prison system and directly engages African American youth in panel discussions.

Unete Center for Farmworker Advocacy – Medford – $10,000

Through community education, cultural presentations, and advocacy, Unete Center for Farmworker Advocacy is creating a movement of farm workers and immigrants in Southern Oregon. Participating farmworkers have the power to defend their rights, while also developing and implementing programs that directly benefit the community.

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