Awarding grants is only the first step in creating change within our community. The real exciting work is when we get to see our grantees in action doing the work that they do best. Umatilla Morrow Alternatives (UMA) is one of the organizations that is working to create positive LGBTQ equality in Eastern Oregon. They advocate for equality, leadership, education, and human dignity among all under-served minority populations.
Our relationship with UMA started back in 2009, when they were selected to be a part of our Racial Equity Initiative. The Racial Equity Initiative addresses the funding inequities that LGBTQ organizations run by and for people of color have historically faced, and to simultaneously increase their ability to help their communities.
This cohort-focused model was a way for people of color run organizations to interface with one another in the Northwest and develop a shared analysis and skill set around fundraising, board development, and technical assistance training. These goals were accomplished by–amongst other avenues–attending conferences and working with consultants to hone and sharpen their respective organization’s mission.
It’s always exciting when one of our grantees is recognized for their work. UMA Executive Director Frank Roa was named on June 3 one of the Portland Q Center and Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN)’s 30 Queer heroes. A display honoring these heroes is in the Q Center in Portland and will travel around the state.
Umatilla Morrow’s Alternative works in Eastern Oregon and provides a safe and affirming space for folks from marginalized communities to discuss discrimination through resources, community forums, and group outings. In addition to creating safe spaces and affirming activities, they also provide speakers for the community and schools with people that live in the HIV/AIDS, HEPC & LGBTQ communities to increase awareness and education. Community building and education are just some of the things UMA offers Eastern Oregonians. They also provide free rapid HIV testing, which studies have shown is one of the greatest ways to prevent the spread of HIV.
By investing in organizations like UMA, we acknowledge the need and desire to work across the entirety of Oregon, and the entirety of our region, with underrepresented populations: specifically communities of color and rural areas. Longtime volunteer of UMA, Darrell Alston stresses the importance of strengthening the community in Eastern Oregon:
“Creating a truly inclusive space for marginalized communities from all backgrounds includes LGBT folks in Eastern Oregon. Through our programs like Rapid HIV Testing, Hep C Testing, and Safe Needle Exchange, we hope to make each day better than the last for all members in our community.”
Congratulations to all of our Racial Equity Initiative Grantee’s and to Frank Roa and Umatilla Morrow’s Alternative for their positive influence and meaningful work in the Eastern part of the Beaver State.
Jett Johnson is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Oregon. To find out more about Grants, Grantees, and how you can get involved email Jett.