Initiative for Small & Culturally-Specific Organizations

Finalized in 2015, The Collins Foundation's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Plan committed the Foundation to broadening our funding model to include initiative-based grantmaking. The goal at the time was that a special initiative would build community assets, enhance quality of life for Oregonians, and provide learning opportunities for the Foundation and our colleagues in philanthropy. Since then, we've been seeking to discern and expand our role in supporting organizations led by people of color, particularly small and emerging organizations. We've had to acknowledge that organizations working to address inequities from the ground up have often gone unnoticed and underfunded by mainstream philanthropy, including The Collins Foundation.

In 2018, these threads have come together with the launch of The Collins Foundation's invitation-only initiative for small and emerging organizations rooted in communities of color. Informed by capacity building and technical assistance programs at MRG Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and Social Venture Partners Portland, the initiative will provide general operating support and technical assistance funds to ten culturally-specific organizations with budgets under $200,000 that are not current grantees through The Collins Foundation's responsive grantmaking program. Through this initiative The Collins Foundation seeks to address disparities in funding and build the capacity of a network of culturally-specific organizations led by people of color, including LGBTQ people of color, people of color with disabilities, and people of color who are immigrants or refugees. Specifically, we seek to:

    • Support the development and growth of small and emerging organizations and assist in addressing any barriers identified by the organization
    • Be a partner in bridging access to other funders and support systems
    • Recognize and strengthen community assets

This effort is also an exciting learning opportunity for the Foundation, which has awarded nearly all of our grants over the last seven decades through a responsive grantmaking program. We look forward to deepening relationships with culturally-specific grassroots organizations across the state, learning from a experienced and talented group of community advisors, and piloting new ways of making grants. We hope this effort will lead to growth within the Foundation and the chance to share lessons learned with our nonprofit and foundation colleagues.


Community Advisory Committee

For the first time in the Foundation's history, we will be advised by a group of community leaders who are helping us design the application process, identify potential applicants, and select organizations for funding. We are fortunate to have their insights and expertise to guide us. Members of the committee are:

Claudia Alick (Ashland) is founder of CALLING UP producing transmedia performances of justice onstage and in real life with projects like “The Every 28 Hours Plays”. Named by American Theater Magazine as one of 25 theater artists who will shape American Theater in the next 25 years. Alick has served as the Artistic Director of Smokin' Word Productions, is a published playwright, NY Neofuturist alum, TedXFargo speaker, recipient of NYC Fresh Fruit directing award and Lilla Jewel Award for Women Artists. As Community Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival she produced/directed The Daedalus Project, audio-plays like Grammy nominated "Hamlet", and presenting series “The Green Show". Featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Claudia served on Ashland City Climate Action Committee, Oregon Arts Leaders in Inclusion, steering committees of The Ghostlight Project and Black Theater Commons, and is currently co-president of the board of Network of Ensemble Theater and Oakland Poetry Slam Team member. Pronouns: she/they

sareli beltrán (Madras) gets to be a parent to three awesome humans, ages 10, 14, and 20! When sareli and her kiddos arrived in Central Oregon, the first thing she did was immerse herself deeply in la comunidad. She noticed that inclusion and tokenism went hand in hand.  sareli learned about a gem of an organization that offers anti-oppression trainings in Jefferson county, attended and decided that was the place for him. As the ancestors would have it, sareli not only joined the Let’s Talk Diversity coalition, but became the first official executive director. sareli stepped down as E.D to make space for local people of color to step into leadership, and to recharge her mind, body and heart. sareli continues to serve his community by staying on as an adviser and trainer for the coalition, is a board member with Friends of the Children in Central Oregon, and the Rural Organizing Project. Pronouns: they/he/she

Elea Chang (Portland) is a user-experience designer turned community organizer and disability justice advocate. She previously worked for Upworthy and and has been published in Rooted in Rights. In 2015, Elea founded Affect Conf, a 2-day social change conference and group volunteering event which became a sponsored project under Allied Media Projects. Currently, Elea consults on accessibility and inclusion and serves as board president of tech diversity nonprofit Stumptown Syndicate. Pronouns: she/they

Cecilia Giron (Central Point) has 20 years of experience empowering and inspiring underrepresented audiences around the state. With her leadership and commitment to the community, thousands of underserved children, youth and families have been positively impacted. Partnering with school districts and nonprofits, she has a proven track record developing and implementing successful, culturally relevant after-school programs. In 2013, her work was recognized by the Oregon Commission for Women as the recipient of the "Women of Achievement Award”. Currently, she is serving as the Director of Listo Family Literacy Program in Southern Oregon. She is also a consultant with LACE, an innovative program of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon. Pronouns: she/they

Abdi Mohamed (Portland) was born and grew up in Somali. In 2009 Abdi immigrated to the U.S and has been living in Oregon since. Abdi graduated from Portland State University with BA in Finance, is an activist and community organizer and recently graduated from the 2017 Disability Power PDX training program through the City of Portland. Abdi also participates in REAL: Reject Economic Ablest Limits which promotes economic justice and advances disability justice by addressing systemic barriers to employment, fostering cross-disability leadership, and building partnerships. Currently Abdi works for the African Youth Community Organization as a healthcare and disability coordinator, and ESL teacher. Abdi also partners with the Disabled Refugee Alliance, a program that brings awareness to immigrants and refugees with disabilities. Abdi speaks Somali, Mai Mai and English, is a professional interpreter and often provides language interpretation in medical, legal, business, education, and social service venues. Abdi also serves on the board of director in Disability Rights Oregon, and the Civic Life Bureau Advisory Committee. Pronouns: he

Carlee Smith (Portland) moved from New York to Oregon in 2002. She currently works with Portland Parks & Recreation and is the former co-owner of Queer, Feminist, Body Positive, clothing store, Fat Fancy. In 2014 she founded and became co-director at One Flaming Arrow Inter-tribal Art Music & Film Festival that produced festivals showcasing the work of contemporary Native Artists in 2015 and 2016.  For the last 2 years she has served board president of Artists Milepost, the organization that programs the gallery, theater and community spaces at Milepost 5. Pronouns: she

Abel Valladares (Portland) Flores is originally from Querétaro, Mexico. He is currently attending community college, with a focus on writing. An experienced community organizer, he anticipates returning to organizing following his education. Before attending school, Abel worked in multiple organizations around immigration, farmworker rights and leadership development. Abel loves passionate discussions about race, gender, class and food. He is been living in North Portland for almost eight years and among his favorite foods are Tortas. Pronouns: he/el