Harnessing community giving to support coalitions.

A crowd holding protest signs with "say their names" and "black lives matter" stand quietly while listening to a speaker, out of frame.
A crowd holding protest signs with "say their names" and "black lives matter" stand quietly while listening to a speaker, out of frame.

The community asked, we responded

In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged Oregon communities and widely exposed the racial, gender, and economic inequalities in marginalized communities, the Oregon Worker Relief Fund was born.

A coalition of more than 100 immigrant rights and community-based organizations, OWRF came together to launch a relief fund for undocumented workers who, despite being deemed “essential” to the economic health of the state, had been left completely out of state and federal aid efforts.

OWRF had received $10 million from the Oregon Legislature for direct worker relief, but was forced to find additional funding to cover administrative costs, including a technology infrastructure and the hiring and training of staff. There was one problem: they didn’t have a centralized way to receive donations and no one to manage the distribution of the funds.

Seeding Justice stepped in with the largest grant we’ve ever made ($185,000) to kickstart the OWR Infrastructure Fund and effectively leverage our relationships within the philanthropic community to raise more than $2.5 million to cover the coalition’s administrative needs.


The Oregon Worker Relief Fund was just the beginning

Since March 2020, we have raised almost $7 million for various funds, have distributed nearly $5 million in grants (and counting), and have received requests from Sovereign Nations, government agencies, community-based organizations, and even legislators to open new ones.

 

Community Funds have taken many forms since we started the program—and have been funded with dollars received from legal settlements, donations from individuals and foundations, and government relief funds.

They may be directed to specific Tribal Nations or organizations, have an open grantmaking process that’s managed by representatives of a community-led coalition, or be distributed by Seeding Justice through a participatory grantmaking process facilitated by us, but led by members of the communities most impacted.

We loosely categorize community funds in three ways:

  • Mission-Driven Funds: Some community funds are meant to reach specific efforts (restoration of the Columbia river) or communities (Tribal nations) and we think it’s crucial for the communities most impacted to be at the center of the decision making. For example, the Since Time Immemorial Fund was created to aid Native American communities in Oregon and Washington as they battled the COVID-19 pandemic. The grantmaking process was facilitated by Seeding Justice, but the criteria was established, and the funding decisions were made by a grantmaking committee composed of five Tribal leaders from communities across both states.
  • Community-Driven Funds: Other community funds are entirely driven by community coalitions, with Seeding Justice’s role focused on facilitating the distribution of the funds. An example of this type of fund is the Oregon Worker Relief Infrastructure Fund, where the Steering Committee (comprised of OWRF representatives from CAUSA, APANO, PCUN, Consejo Hispano, and Innovation Law Lab) decides who will receive a grant and Seeding Justice distributing the funds according to their wishes.
  • Pass-Through Funds: These funds are set up to support organizations and coalitions that lack the capacity to manage and distribute large pools of funding. For example, we created the Chúush Fund in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs because they had no way to receive public donations themselves. Every month, all donations received in the fund are transferred to the Tribes for the restoration of their water infrastructure. Another example is the Addiction Recovery Assistance Fund, created to ensure CARES Act funding (and later Measure 110 funding) kept BIPOC people in recovery safely housed.
 

Our Community Funds

We are currently hosting five Community Funds at Seeding Justice:

Addiction Recovery Assistance Fund

ARAF was created in partnership with Oregon Recovers and MetroPlus Association of Addiction Peer Professionals (MAAPPs) to ensure CARES Act funding kept BIPOC people in recovery housed during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Addiction Recovery Assistance Fund

ARAF was created in partnership with Oregon Recovers and MetroPlus Association of Addiction Peer Professionals (MAAPPs) to ensure CARES Act funding kept BIPOC people in recovery housed during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Funded with an initial Oregon Health Authority grant of $200,000 (all of which was distributed to BIPOC folks within three weeks), ARAF has recently received a $500,000 Measure 110 grant to prevent the loss of statewide housing stock available to people in recovery, especially those affected by drug criminalization.

 

A bird's eye view of Upper Klamath Lake.

Ambo Fund, Water for The Klamath

Named after the word for water in the Klamath language, the Ambo Fund was established in partnership with the Klamath Tribes in June 2021.

Ambo Fund, Water for The Klamath

Named after the word for water in the Klamath language, the Ambo Fund was established in partnership with the Klamath Tribes in June 2021.

Our newest Community Fund, the Ambo Fund received an initial investment of $100,000 from Seeding Justice. Donations to this fund will help The Klamath Tribes as they work to save the endangered c’waam and koptu fish populations in the upper Klamath Lake. Their goal is to provide fish restoration to upper Klamath Lake, rebuild riparian areas, and continue to defend their rightful ownership of water rights in the basin during one of the worst droughts in recent memory.

Donate to the Ambo Fund.

Seeding Justice is able to host Community Funds like the Ambo Fund thanks to the generosity of our donors. Every gift made to The Klamath Tribes goes directly to the community. We invite you to help keep Seeding Justice strong for years to come by making a separate donation to Seeding Justice.

Chúush Fund, Water for Warm Springs

On May 31, 2019, the Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs approved an emergency disaster declaration due to the immediate health threats resulting from water main line break in the Shitike Creek.

Chúush Fund, Water for Warm Springs

On May 31, 2019, the Tribal Council of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs approved an emergency disaster declaration due to the immediate health threats resulting from water main line break in the Shitike Creek.

Over two years into rolling water outages and a boil water notice across Oregon’s largest reservation, there is still no relief in sight. The first partnership of its kind, the Chúush Fund was made possible when the Tribes and Seeding Justice came together to provide a pathway for contributions from foundations and individuals to reach Warm Springs as the community works to restore its infrastructure and access to clean water.

Contribute to the Chúush Fund.

Seeding Justice is able to host Community Funds like the Chúush Fund thanks to the generosity of our donors. Every gift made to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs goes directly to the community. We invite you to help keep Seeding Justice strong for years to come by making a separate donation to Seeding Justice.

Columbia River Fund

Previously held at the Rose Foundation in California, the Columbia River Fund was established by Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental justice organization and long-time partner of Seeding Justice.

Columbia River Fund

Previously held at the Rose Foundation in California, the Columbia River Fund was established by Columbia Riverkeeper, an environmental justice organization and long-time partner of Seeding Justice.

CRF’s funds come from settlements obtained through litigation against polluters and its grants go to projects and environmental justice organizations working to restore, protect, and maintain the Columbia River and its tributaries.

The CRF opens grant applications once a year in the Fall and its grantmaking committee will be composed of climate and racial justice activists. Explore our grants page for more info on the application process.

Oregon Worker Relief Infrastructure Fund

The OWR Infrastructure Fund was established in March 2020 to resource the community-based organizations (“navigators”) tasked with helping undocumented workers access unemployment relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oregon Worker Relief Infrastructure Fund

The OWR Infrastructure Fund was established in March 2020 to resource the community-based organizations (“navigators”) tasked with helping undocumented workers access unemployment relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund has raised over $2.5 million so far, of which $2 million has been granted to Navigators. A Steering Committee—composed of OWRF coalition members CAUSA, PCUN, Innovation Law Lab, Consejo Hispano, and APANO—developed the initial grantmaking process and criteria; they approve the grants and Seeding Justice distributes the funds.

Become a donor of the OWR Infrastructure Fund.

Seeding Justice is able to host Community Funds like the Ambo Fund thanks to the generosity of our donors. Every gift made to the Oregon Worker Relief Infrastructure Fund goes directly to the community. We invite you to help keep Seeding Justice strong for years to come by making a separate donation to Seeding Justice.