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Economic Vitality Grants

Our economic vitality grantmaking focuses on three major priorities: providing young people with hands-on career education and exposure to entrepreneurship, scaling Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and building Oregon’s new natural resources economy to improve rural job creation and retention.

Young Entrepreneurs

OCF supports programs that help young people develop design thinking and business skills to launch the next generation of Oregon companies. Programs connect young people with business executives and talented mentors, offer new ways of engaging with their peers, and help them connect with other resources, including internships and sources of capital. OCF has supported several organizations including TiE Young Entrepreneurs, Young Entrepreneurs Business Week and Portland State University’s statewide InventOR competition.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

OCF understands that entrepreneurs need access to programming, talented people and capital to help them scale their companies. Over the past five years, OCF has supported Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) in its efforts to develop regional hubs across the state that have Venture Catalysts, people who are experienced entrepreneurs and investors who can connect local entrepreneurs with the various resources they need. Venture Catalysts are critical connectors for the Oregon entrepreneurial ecosystem. OCF appreciates that they are also supported by local municipalities and corporations who understand the value of having a person on the ground in communities to help early-stage, traded-sector companies grow.

In addition, OCF is one of the many funding partners that collectively produce the Oregon Capital Scan every two years. The latest report, 2018 Oregon Capital Scan, is an inventory of the various sources of capital in Oregon. The purpose is to identify the gaps and form recommendations for improving Oregon’s capital landscape to ensure all entrepreneurs find the type of capital they need to prosper.

Rural Economies

Oregon has a long history of thriving rural economies that rely on available natural resources. However, with the dramatic loss of timber mills over the past several decades, rural communities have to diversify their industries in order to retain and create new jobs. OCF provides support for communities that are working together to address their challenges and explore new opportunities. For example, OCF provided grants to Sustainable Northwest to develop a market for Western Juniper, a native invasive tree, in order to restore grasslands and boost eastern Oregon’s economy. 

Oregonians are also planning for the future in regards to each community’s water supply. Communities are using grants from OCF to have facilitated discussions between diverse stakeholders about how to preserve and protect their current water sources. OCF has provided over $300,000 to enable community members to develop plans and build consensus around how to manage their water in the future. For more information, please visit Community Water Solutions.

For more information about economic vitality grants, contact Melissa D. Freeman, director of strategic projects, mfreeman@oregoncf.org or review the Community Grant program guidelines to see if your project might be eligible.