Since 1976, MRG Foundation has been funding innovative, grassroots groups working on some of the most controversial but important issues facing our communities. In the ‘70s we were funding survivors of domestic violence; in the ‘80s, long before the federal government would recognize the problem, we provided seed funding to Cascade AIDS Project and others working to prevent the spread of HIV; and right after 9/11, we supported the work of the Center for Intercultural Organizing and created a Peace Fund to push back against rising nationalism and the drumbeat of war.
We have never been shy about articulating our vision for a just and joyful Oregon, but over the last four decades we’ve let our grants speak for us – demonstrating our commitment to social, racial, economic, and environmental justice through the groups we fund.
But there are times when we must also lend our voices to a cause. Which is why MRG is urging our supporters and allies to vote yes on Measure 88.
Why we’re Voting Yes on Measure 88
Voting yes on Measure 88 upholds the Safe Roads Act, a law passed by the Oregon legislature in 2013 with bipartisan support, which would allow Oregon residents to get a limited-use driver card. The Act ensures that undocumented Oregonians, those experiencing homelessness, and others without documentation, can live their lives, getting to work and school without fear of arrest or deportation.
In the year leading up to the 2013 legislative session, MRG granted $121,000 to immigrant- and refugee-led groups throughout the state, many of which were leaders in the legislative organizing effort. Today, more than thirty of MRG’s grantees and allies are endorsing Measure 88 and our commitment is just as strong. In addition to providing $135,000 to immigrant- and refugee-led groups in the last year through our activist-led general fund, MRG’s Board allocated an additional $10,000 to the Oregon Field Table, the grassroots organizing arm of the Safe Roads Campaign.
Measure 88 is a top priority for our grantees, not just because it makes our roads and communities safer, but also because it is a referendum on justice. It is a small, but important step toward the just and joyful Oregon we’re all working for.
The conversation around Measure 88 has been focused on its impact on immigrant communities – and rightly so – but at MRG we can see the wider implications. This measure will benefit not just undocumented immigrants, but also seniors and those affected by homelessness. Voting yes on Measure 88 advances not one, but many causes. And supports not one, but many communities.
Measure 88 isn’t the End
Win or lose, this isn’t the end. Measure 88 is an opportunity to build stronger coalitions and demand an Oregon where we can all get to work and school. It’s an opportunity to lift our voices for friends and allies, to change a system that punishes people based on where they were born or where they live, and to take a critical step toward a more just and joyful Oregon. It is one step further on the road toward justice – and it is a step we must take.
As I said at our recent forum on ballot measures: while foundations often shy away from direct political activity, there are times when you simply can’t stay quiet. We will not stay quiet. And I hope you won’t either.