Our Beliefs and Values

The Gray Family Foundation seeks to continue the life’s work of John and Betty Gray by creating a permanent organization based on faith in the human spirit and a vision of Oregon as a vibrant and civic-minded society. We believe that we have a responsibility to give back to the systems that nurture all of us: our culture, our natural environment and our communities.

We are guided by the following values:

  • Place Matters – we are focused on Oregon
  • Holistic thinking – Projects relating to arts, culture, food, health, native ecology, education, housing, transportation, politics, energy, environment and climate should be connected to each other. Our actions are part of world systems.
  • Humility – Our resources give us great responsibility and we don’t have all the answers
  • Knowledge-based – Using knowledge to guide actions – We like to encourage learning
  • Collaborative – We collaborate with others and we encourage collaboration among diverse groups
  • Inclusive – Inclusive of all Oregonians (urban, rural, all races and ethnicities, all socio-economic levels)

Our Vision

We seek an Oregon:

  • Where people work together to actively shape communities that are robust, resilient, and sustainable.
  • That is inclusive, equitable, and diverse.
  • Where multi-disciplinary knowledge informs decisions and enables people to think through solutions to complex problems.
  • That is known for the wealth of its communities and natural areas.

Our Purpose

To enhance the opportunities for Oregon’s people to have rich and full lives.

Our Mission

Engage the people of Oregon to become active stewards of their natural and built communities.

Our Theory of Change

Problem: There’s an Oregon myth to the effect: “it’ll always be the same no matter what I do or don’t do…” or “the rain keeps it green so I don’t have to worry about it.” Most of us don’t currently understand the context and consequences of decisions big and small. This lack of understanding, or lack of empowerment leads to very few people then taking action to enhance our natural and built communities.

Our Solution: We see the need to keep people connected to and knowledgeable about what keeps communities healthy. This begins by helping more of our children grow into community stewards by getting them outside, understanding the natural systems that sustain us. It also calls for programs that support people in developing the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to understand the consequences of action (or inaction) and then to subsequently get educated, engaged and empowered to stand up and take action.


  1. Champion accessible, experiential education programs (formal and informal) that encourage integrated understanding of community and natural systems.
  2. Inspire action to enhance our natural and built communities (political action, personal behavior change, and civil discourse).
  3. Use research and coalition building to explore bigger opportunities beyond our own domain and knowledge that hold the potential to create community stewards.

Specific Tactics

  • The Gray Family Foundation will encourage age appropriate experiences for K-12 students that help them understand their relationship to the natural world.
  • The Gray Family Foundation will work with the Oregon Community Foundation to develop leadership opportunities for the Latino Community and connect Latinos to environmental literacy initiatives
  • The Gray Family Foundation will partner with schools to integrate geography education into statewide education standards and practices.
  • The Gray Family Foundation will provide funding for infrastructure repair and replacements for Oregon Outdoor School Camp facilities.
  • The Gray Family Foundation will invest in teachers to build their capacity to utilize outdoor education, geography, and art in their teaching.

What does it look like when we succeed?

Oregonians are connected to their communities (natural and built) in a deep and fundamental way. Whether they are farmers, urban hikers, children, families, or county commissioners, our citizens share the common values of appreciating clean air, clean water, healthy forests, open spaces, and scenic beauty.
When Oregonians vote, they vote to protect and conserve the land and natural resources. Geography education, outdoor education, and the arts are fully integrated into our schools. Our educational achievements in this area are so strong that other states seek to learn from our example.
Oregon’s systems for managing our forests, fisheries, and water resources are national models. Oregon’s arts scene is world class in quality and innovation. Our food system is healthy and secure. Oregon is the first state to generate all of its electricity from sources that don’t increase carbon, becoming a net exporter of green energy.
When people talk about why they love Oregon, they talk first about their love of nature, the environment, and their connection to the lands that make up our state. This is the work we have dedicated ourselves to – the preserve and enhance Oregon so that its people have the opportunity to have rich and full lives.