Twenty-seven years after the founding of Equity Foundation, I still have big dreams for our future — dreams that I now know can come true only by becoming part of Pride Foundation’s regional network.
When I joined others to start Equity Foundation in 1989, we had a bold vision. We wanted to make a promise to future generations by creating a multi-million dollar endowment that would secure decades of work to make the world safer and more affirming for all of Oregon’s diverse people. I am proud of everything Equity Foundation has accomplished over the years.
Today, I still imagine a world where everyone feels safe to live openly and be themselves. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to rejoin Equity Foundation’s board last year, and help plan the future of our commitment to our donors, our communities, and all of the people with whom we work to create a more fair and equitable world.
At first, I thought Equity Foundation would be best served by finding another organization to take over managing our assets, leaving Equity Foundation to do the hard work of leading a movement, sparking new endeavors, and responding to the needs and interests of our donors. But I soon realized that my dream for Oregon would come true only if we provide even more guidance, resources, and networks than we were able to provide through Equity Foundation’s funding alone.
After speaking with multiple foundations throughout Oregon, it didn’t take long for me to see Pride Foundation as a natural partner. They are not only familiar with the hopes and aspirations of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, but also already have infrastructure in place to create a bigger, bolder movement for equality in Oregon. Their Oregon Community Advisory Council has been working for years to strengthen the fabric that holds Oregonians together.
My excitement about joining with Pride Foundation has only increased as our plans developed. When the Equity Foundation board first sat down with Katie Carter and Kris Hermanns of Pride Foundation, they kept asking us, “What do you want? What would you like to see?” It took me a while to fully understand what they were saying: they wanted the Equity Foundation board to best use Pride Foundations’ networks, infrastructure, and trusted leadership to achieve our vision. It was all about us.
So we went to work creating that vision. We knew we wanted to expand the opportunities available to donors in Oregon, and Kris and Katie worked with us to do so. Now, donors will continue to have options for their own funds that reflect their specific passions, as well as options to invest in a long-term endowment that will be available to future generations, and a fund for emerging work that innovates how we can create safe, affirming communities throughout all of Oregon. In our planning, I have not seen anything Pride Foundation won’t do for us, or for our donors.
I have always seen Oregon as an incubator for new and bold ideas. By unifying philanthropic efforts under Pride Foundation, we will move closer to realizing our dream of true equality. The infrastructure and proven leadership of Pride Foundation will give our donors more options and greater security for their investments, and will expand our reach to every corner of Oregon – from the docks of Astoria to the ranches of Harney County.
In the coming months, we will offer opportunities to weave together the Equity Foundation and Pride Foundation communities. Please join us as we learn from each other and make possible a whole new magnitude of change.
by Jim Vegher, Equity Foundation board member