Directors update April 11, 2014

As you can imagine, there is a lot happening over the next month.

The Gray Family Foundation Advisory board (Family Council) met on Sunday and made some refinements to the vision statement. The latest version is here.

I have been working on the transition plan and ED job description.  And thank you, to all of you for being so gracious about my departure. I am working extra hard to make sure that this transition is as smooth as possible, knowing that no matter what I do, there will be some level of disruption and loss of momentum. Lara and Rana are up to the task of keeping the program development moving forward during this interim period.

The annual report is in its draft phase. You can see a preliminary copy here.GFF 2013 Annual Report

We will obviously need to modify the structure of the April 29 board meeting. A new proposed agenda is here. Agenda

I will continue to post unusual grant opportunities that fall outside our normal grant categories here for your reading pleasure. Please let me know if you see something that grabs your interest. Unusual Funding Opportunities

The application deadline for outdoor school is May 5. This is a different time of year for the grant deadline for this category, an experiment to see if it helps schools plan more effectively for their outdoor school trips. We also included a question to poll the applicants about their preferred time for this category.

The Camp Maintenance committee is meeting on April 21 from Noon to 1:00. Current participants are:  David Vernier, Anthony Roy (Earth Advantage).

Janet Webster and Lyn Hennion are working on nominations for new Board Members. Lyn’s term ends in June.

Lara has a Geography Education advisory committee meeting set up for:

  • Thursday, July 31 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in Portland
  • Thursday, September 18 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in Eugene

Current committee members include: Kristin Walrod, Laurie Mootz, Craige Beebe (1000 friends of Oregon), Cy Smith (Oregon’s geospatial information officer), Dave Imus (Imus geographics), and Kathleen Stroud (GIS librarian at University of Oregon).

Arts Committee will be meeting on September 30 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm in Portland.
Participants include: Kristin Walrod, Michelle Boss Barba (OCF), Eloise Damrosch (Portland Regional Arts and Culture Council)

Director’s update March 27, 2014

Director’s update, March 27

The vision document has received some small modifications since my last update. The latest version can be found here. The next step will be to begin filling in the objectives that would let us begin working toward our vision.
The document we have worked on so far speaks to the “why” of the Gray Family Foundation and in the strategies section we start to address the “how.” The next piece is the “what.”

We invited the 5th to 8th grade field trip applicants to a cohort Gathering on March 7 and 8. We had 48 people attending for a day of training (jointly with OCF’s out of school time cohort) and a day of evaluating grants. The feedback from this activity was mostly positive.
The most reported positive takeaway was an enthusiastic reflection on the high caliber of education programs across Oregon, and a celebration of the network of diverse organizations represented.

The second most reported positive takeaway was how much people learned from reading each other’s proposals. This, ironically, was also the least appreciated and most time-intensive part of the undertaking.

Only 4 people reported that they didn’t enjoy the opportunity to read and discuss each other’s grants because it took too much time or because the process felt uncomfortable. We were very pleased that the results of the grant review performed by the group seemed to closely line up with recommendations that we would have made as staff. The project was a little more expensive that we initially anticipated, due mostly to the higher number of people who wanted to attend. Rana and Lara did a very good job organizing the logistics of this process. The grant recommendations from the group can be seen here.  GFF 5-8th Grade Recommendations

Joan and I modified the Board Agenda for April 29, eliminating some reports so we would have more time for discussion and decision making. The current draft of the agenda is here. Agenda draft. The next board meeting is April 29;  the June Board meeting was rescheduled to be held on June 11. The full calendar is available here.

After consulting with several of you, I have decided not move forward with the proposal from the Metropolitan group, at least for now. I think we need to spend more time working on our objectives and experimenting with some program initiatives before we spend significantly on a public will building campaign toward an uncertain end. I have spoken with Maria Elena about this and she agrees that we aren’t yet ready to tackle the project that Ezra and Beth proposed last month.

Lara has been working with Susan Sahnow at OSU-extansion to craft the Memorandum of Understanding for transferring the Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan to OSU. The Draft for that MOU is here. GFF-OSU-OELP MOU draft  We will continue paying for Traci’s time through the end of the May contract. We also have some reimbursement obligations through contracts with the Oregon Zoo and the West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation districts for expenses relating to the OELP toolkit (a project to develop environmental literacy teaching resources for teachers).

I have been working on re-compiling our financial statements from 2013 to give a greater level of transparency to our expenditures than the statements OCF normally provides. The  statements make it easier to see how we are receiving and spending money for special projects. This will make budgeting for 2015 easier. You can see the financials here. 

In the past month we have been working with OCF’s IT department to find ways to more easily integrate with OCF’s new database program (iPhi) for grant tracking and distribution. Our new system lets us export a spreadsheet of grant recommendations from our custom database and then upload the approvals to iPhi for payment. This will save many hours of Rana’s time manually entering grantee contact information during each grant cycle. Our next project, starting this summer will be to construct the online grantee portal and the online grant review system. In the mean time, existing grant applications are available for your convenience.

Funding Opportunities that fall outside our normal grants

Sy Adler, Interim Associate Dean, College of Urban and Public Affairs, writes, “John Gray very generously gave me a grant that helped me to research and write Oregon Plans: The Making of an Unquiet Land-Use Revolution, about the early history of the Oregon statewide land-use planning program, which was published in 2012. I’m writing to ask if you think the Gray Family Fund would have any interest in supporting an educational institute that I would like to establish in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State. The Institute would engage with the very broadly defined community of planners in the state, and develop and distribute educational materials of various sorts. The Institute would also serve as a convener and facilitator of discussions involving planning community members about important issues confronting the community now and in the future.”  A very brief outline of a possible Institute and some of its activities is attached.

Oral History of SB 100 Jim Knight is looking for funds to support a project that would document Oregon’s Land Use program.

ELAW Fellowship Program The Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) was founded in Eugene more than 20 years ago. They have a network of grassroots leaders working in more than 70 countries to protect communities and the environment. Their Fellows program brings diversity to communities in Oregon and helps Oregonians learn about environmental challenges and successes around the world. They are looking for general support.(Referred by Laurie)

Sylvan Leef Inc – Engaging at risk youth to build a 40 acre park for disabled people in SW Oregon –  stated need $50K out of $120K budget No deadline.

Sand Lake Estuary – Need $250K out of ~$2 million to purchase the Sand Lake Estuary (north of Pacific City) and prevent it’s development as a golf course. Ultimately it will be purchased by State Parks. $250K pays for interest and transaction costs while the property is held for 2 years. Deadline April 15, 2014

Oregon Community Latino Fund to raise $250K to support programs that advance education and leadership for Latinos in Oregon. Seeded with $25K from Amador Bustos, the fund seeks 9 more donors at the $25k level.

Michael Giamellaro – Researcher at OSU writes: “My research examines the learning process and outcomes when students are in contextualized settings. This is often outdoor settings but also can include classroom-scientist partnerships, immersion experiences, and intensive project-based learning. I was talking to Charlie as I am hopeful that we can find a way to collect some data on student learning associated with the camp [Tamarack] that will be useful for both of us. I am, of course, curious if the Gray Family Foundation provides any funding for research of this kind. From your website it does not look like that is the case but I would still value a conversation with you as it seems like you would have a great sense of who is doing outdoor science education statewide. Having such a contact list would be very valuable to me and my work.

Note to Board: if you have an interest in seeing GFF pursue these ideas, please send Eric a note.

Directors update – March 4, 2014

Gray Family Foundation update  March 4, 2014

I have sent you all the latest version of the vision document. I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback. I also want to remind you that the current vision document and the original draft from the Metropolitan Group is on GFF website under the board login area. I will continue to update this document as I received feedback from each of you.

We received 38 applications for the 5th to 8th Grade cohort compared to 43 in 2013.
25 applications for Teacher Professional Development compared to 30 in 2013

Based on the Outdoor School review team’s recommendations last fall, we moved the Outdoor School Deadline to May 5th and that funding cycle is now open and available online.

The applicants for the 5th to 8th field trips were invited to a cohort gathering that will be held this weekend in Welches, OR.  The response to this gathering exceeded our expectations and with 47 people attending, we ran out of rooms. (We have had to turn away a few of the people who were late to respond to our confirmation request). The gathering will happen over two days. The first day will focus on capacity building training in partnership with a cohort from OCF’s Out of School Time grant recipients. On the second day, OCF’s group leaves and we will be asking our grant applicants to rank their own grants and make funding recommendations (excepting their own application of course) for the 5th to 8th category. This is a bit of an experiment, but already we’ve had feedback from the applicants that they have found the experience of reading grants to be insightful.  Lara has been the lead on creating the gathering and the grant review process. Rana has been providing a lot of logistical support.

Recommendations from the cohort will be reconciled by GFF staff and submitted to the GFF board for approval in April.

For the teacher professional development grants, we will run the process much like we have in the past with buddies and grant review meetings in April. If you are on that grant review committee and haven’t heard already, you should be hearing from Lara in the next week.

We still have room on the Arts/Geography/Camp Maintenance committees if you would like to participate. The First meeting of the camp maintenance committee is set up for April 21 at noon in the Upper Cascade Room at OCF. Rana is organizing this committee.

Eric Lindauer asked if he could attend the April Board meeting as a guest just to see how things are going. Let me know if this seems like it might be a problem.

I am working on the April board meeting agenda. We have a long list of topics including:

  • Board Retreat follow up
  • Latino Partnership Report  -Roberto Franco
  • No Oregon Child Left inside report – Traci Price
  • Geography Education report
  • Grants approval
  • Setting a discretionary threshold for staff to make grants (discussion)
  • Camp Maintenance Update
  • Financial review for 2013
  • Updates on Arts and Geography Education

If you want topics added (or removed) please let me know.

The conservation coalition met in Salem on February 17 to talk with with legislators, primarily about outdoor school funding. The volunteers who came that day met with 35 legislators and talked about an outdoor school funding bill for 2015. The Gray Family Foundation didn’t participate in the legislative day, but we did help get funding (from OCF) for the group that pulled the day together.

I have a multi-year proposal on my desk from the Metropolitan group for the next steps in our strategic plan development. The plan is good, but the price tag is quite a bit higher than I had in mind when I first proposed this idea.  I’ll post the plan and the costs on the website and look forward to your feedback.

Our meeting about the Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan with OSU and  Nancy Golden, the Oregon Chief Education Officer was delayed due to the snowstorm earlier in February and we weren’t able to reschedule the meeting until May 27.

Roberto found a donor (Amador Bustos) who has seeded an Oregon Latino Community Fund  at OCF with $25K. They are trying to raise $250K to be the basis for ongoing support of programs that advance education and leadership for latinos. OCF’s development department is looking for 9 more $25K donors to support this fund.

In my last update I told you we were applying for a grant of $1.25 million from the Greater Atlanta Community Foundation to support energy retrofits of buildings owned by non-profits. After conducting the planning for this grant, we determined the grant wasn’t a good fit for our mission, (and we would have needed to absorb some costs from the management of the grant) so we decided to withdraw our application.

The transfer of John’s estate is still ongoing. I haven’t received the report from February, but as of January 31, $1.147 million remained to transfer.



Board Terms

Rotating Terms

The Gray family hopes the GFF board will be geographically diverse, have members with a variety of professional backgrounds, and be creative, strategic and collaborative.
Board Members can serve 2 consecutive 3 year terms. A board member serving an initial term shorter than three years can still renew for 2 consecutive full terms for a theoretical maximum of 8 years.

Terms end in June of each year
Joan Gray –  Term up for renewal June 2016  (maximum June 2019)
Nick Walrod – Term up for renewal June 2014 (maximum June 2017)
David Vernier – Term up for renewal June 2014 (renewed thru June 2017)
Lyn Hennion – Term up for renewal June 2016 (maximum June 2016)  – Lyn’s term was renewable on June 2013…she is currently on a one year extension.
Maria Elena  – Term up for renewal June 2015 (maximum June 2021)

Board retreat planning materials

Gray Family Foundation Board, Staff, and Family Council,

Yes, we have homework to help us prepare for our retreat next week.

Attached you will find four documents.
1) The Agenda for next week’s meeting
2) A document from Metropolitan Group on “Public Will Building”
3) A document from Metropolitan Group on “Measuring and Quantifying Social Change”
4) The current version of the Gray Family Foundation Vision Document (which this retreat will help us refine)
5) Directions to the Jupiter Hotel where we are holding our retreat.

There is free street parking on SE 8th and Ash, near the hotel, and we’ll have a few parking passes in the meeting room when you arrive if you can’t find a free parking spot.

The documents from the Metropolitan group are 19 pages and 16 pages respectively and we will be using them as context for our discussion next week.

We are very excited to see you all and to dig into the important work of developing our vision and work plan looking out over the next few years.
Please let me know if you have any questions.

GFF Board Retreat Agenda 2014-0130



Core Values Vision Mission October ’13

Parking & Directions

January update

Gray Family Foundation board, staff, and family council,

It’s been a while since I shared an update of our activities and in anticipation of our planning meeting in two weeks, I wanted to let you know what we’ve been up to.

1) We launched a new GFF website in December that I think elegantly describes the current programs and structure of the Gray Family Foundation. We also created a new board portal that has historical board minutes, bylaws, and updates for your perusal.  We will be sharing your login information for this portal in the next couple weeks.

2) Lara is back from her maternity leave and working her regular Monday through Thursday schedule. It’s been great to have her back.

3) We shuffled the team’s primary project responsibilities as shown on the attached chart. We often work together on all of these projects, but it’s helpful to have a lead person on each project when we are doing check-ins.

4) Planning for the Board, staff, family council retreat is well underway. We’ve contracted with the Metropolitan Group to facilitate the session this year on January 30 and to work with us to deliver a work plan as a result of this session. We also are excited to have the whole group together for dinner after the planning session. If you haven’t RVSP’d to  our evite for the dinner, please do so today. We need to let the restaurant know how many to expect.

5) We’ve been evaluating the need to establish a conservation education coalition dedicated to pulling together the various environmental education and conservation education groups under a single banner for purposes of educating state legislators about the benefits of integrating conservation education into the regular education curriculum.  We know there is a gap in this area, but we haven’t yet landed on the best way to move forward in setting up a coalition. Some of this may be informed by our work at the retreat.

6) The Oregon Environmental Literacy Plan is in the process of transferring over to OSU extension. We have meetings in the next few weeks  with Nancy Golden, (Oregon’s Chief Education Officer) and the OSU extension office to talk about the statewide implications of the OELP. We also have some logistics to work out with Traci Price’s ongoing relationship as the primary champion of the OELP once the transfer takes place.

7) Our grant RFP for teacher professional development and 5th-8th grade field trips is live and generating applications that are due Feb 3. This year we are experimenting with having the 5-8th field trip applicants become part of a 2-day learning cohort that will meet in March to join with OCF’s “Out of School time” grant cohort. We will also be having the applicants review their own grants as a way to learn how to be better grant writers.

8) The LPP advisory committee meets tomorrow with the addition of a couple new members as well as two OCF board members (Roman Hernandez and Sue Miller) who have taken a strong interest in the work of this group. The advisory committee has been tasked with making recommendations on a Latino Leadership Development model and framework especially as it relates to OCF’s role in implementing the framework.

9) GFF participated in the organizing of the OCF all staff retreat in January, an activity that helps GFF stay engaged and connected to the overall operations of OCF.

10) Rana has been working diligently on the evaluation process for our grants program, making adjustments to our rubrics and our grant applications as well as the evaluation materials (post grant) that should help us better  understand the impact we are having on the non-profits we fund. Some of these new materials are incorporated in the grant processes for 2014 and some will role out in 2015.

11) We’ve been meeting with Environmental Partners who might help implement the Grants to Green program (providing money to non-profits for building remodels that boost energy efficiency.) We also conducted a statewide survey of 2000 non-profits to identify the scope of possible candidates for these grants. The application deadline for us to apply to this Grant is February 14. We should hear back from the Greater Atlanta Community F foundation by March 3. If we are successful, we will have $1million to distribute to Oregon Non-profits for energy efficiency upgrades and another $250K to administer the grant and provide energy efficiency assessments of the interested non-profits.

12) As of early December, the papers have been signed to transfer the assets from John’s estate to GFF, but as of the end of the year about $8.8 million (of $20 million) had yet to transfer.  (so far we’ve received cash, the remainder is in more complicated assets) There is still about $15.1 million in the estate waiting to transfer. OCF has received all of their distributions. So the other funds (besides our $8.8 million) that haven’t transferred will go to the YARG foundation.

13) We are planning to host a gathering of funders/donors who care about environment and environmental education…to establish the need for coordination and education of the funder/donor community on this topic. We plan to have a date picked out by May and to have the gathering in September. We also met with the ED of the Oregon Zoo Foundation Jani Iverson who is interested in partnering with us on this convening effort.

14) Our intrepid volunteer, Amy Morrison, is systematically organizing all our historical evaluations into a format that will allow us to share them online. Our goal is to create a system by which grant reviewers and board members can quickly search for organizations and see past grant applications and subsequent evaluations.

15) Lara is setting up advisory committees for Geography Education and Arts grants. Rana is setting up an advisory committee for Camp Maintenance and Grants to Green.  We plan to have a mix of Board, family, and outside advisors for these advisory committees.

16) I’m heading to Washington DC on Feb 3-5 as part of a WESTAF funded trip to advocate for continued National Endowment for the Arts funding. This is my second trip with this group.

17) Lara is helping to review grants for one Portland Metro’s grant program relating to equity and the environment. I am helping with reviews of one of the new Arts Grants categories that OCF is doing with the Fred Fields money.

That’s probably enough for this update. We are looking forward to seeing you in a couple weeks. I’ll send out some reading material early next week to prep you for our retreat.


Here’s to a great 2014!