Member Spotlight on Oregon Community Foundation

For the month of March, GIA’s photo banner features artists and work supported by the Oregon Community Foundation, established in 1973 as a permanent endowment for community improvement efforts throughout the state of Oregon. From founder William Swindells’ initial $63,000 contribution, OCF now has over $1.5 billion under management through 1,900 charitable funds that support the five key areas of arts and culture, health and well-being, livability, economic vitality, and education.

This is an amazing time of discovery and possibility for arts and culture work at the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF). Two proactive arts initiatives launched in 2014 are now in transition, and the foundation finds itself deep in reflection and eager to get going on next steps.

“We are most excited about our arts education initiative, Studio to School, which is focused on finding ways to make high-quality arts education programming available for underserved students across the state,” says Michelle Boss Barba, OCF’s program officer for arts and culture. With 18 grantee sites, a state-wide learning community, and a robust evaluation component, OCF is surfacing principles that schools and communities can use to grow or strengthen their arts offerings. Its grantees have been working on issues from engaging immigrant families and implementing innovative music programs, to creating mechanisms for professional development and arts integration. The first three years OCF encouraged risk and experimentation which paid off for many sites that now have new ways to raise retention rates, increase student engagement, and improve academic outcomes. The next two years will focus on testing lessons learned so far and on deepening work to address the barriers that have surfaced.

Creative Heights, another exciting OCF program, focuses on providing risk capital for creative works with grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 per project. With this new type of funding for OCF introduced in 2014, the foundation has learned a lot, and is busy developing next steps for this work. OCF is also researching additional ways its arts funding can expand its impact on the creative communities in the state. “So many possibilities!” states Boss Barba.

Oregon Community Foundation, one of our newer members, joined GIA in November 2015.

Learn more about the foundation and its grant programs and initiatives.

You can also visit the photo gallery on our Photo Credits page.