As a volunteer for an organization that has received grants from both Equity Foundation and Pride Foundation, I wasn’t sure what their merger would mean for our work to make schools across Oregon safer and more affirming for all students. But the more I’ve learned about the merger — and about Pride Foundation — the more I’ve realized how their unification will help us achieve our big, bold goals for the future.
Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition believes that we can create schools where all students, educators, and families feel safe, valued, and affirmed. Yet, we know some Oregonians can’t be themselves at school. We get calls from people across the state who are concerned about harassment and discrimination in schools, people who feel threatened at school because of who they are. Some are harassed because of a disability, some because of race or ethnicity, and some because of perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
We know we must do more to foster a culture of affirmation in every Oregon school, especially those outside of the Portland metro area. Yet as an-all volunteer organization whose members live mostly in Multnomah County, it has always been difficult to reach communities in more rural parts of the state. Next year, for the first time in our history we will host safe schools gatherings in Medford, Bend, Pendleton, and La Grande. These events are only possible because of funding and guidance from both Equity Foundation and Pride Foundation. Pride Foundation has an Oregon Community Advisory Committee that is already threading together people working for equality throughout the state, and they are connecting us with new partners in the rural areas that we have not yet been able to reach.
By uniting the people and resources of both Equity Foundation and Pride Foundation, this merger will grow the resources available to Oregon and better connect all of the movements working to make our state a more just and fair place for everybody. Not only will the grant application process be more effective and efficient, but together we can better learn from each other’s experiences, tap into new resources and expertise, and amplify good ideas that bring us closer to true equality.
Oregon is at a pivotal point to foster a culture of affirmation in every community. We have passed supportive laws, but laws alone don’t change the experiences of our day-to-day lives. We must build on our policy wins to further connect each other to create safe communities for every person in Oregon.
As part of an organization supported by Equity Foundation, and as a board member of Equity Foundation, I hope you’ll join us as we unify philanthropic efforts. Together, we will provide even more guidance and support to organizations like Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition to include all of the communities in our state.
by Joy Wallace, Oregon Safe Schools and Communities Coalition