Gray Family Foundation

OVERVIEW: This Portland-based funder supports environmental education, geography education, an outdoor school program, and camp facility maintenance in the state of Oregon. There are two competitive grant cycles per year.

FUNDING AREAS: Teacher Professional Development for Environmental Education, Community Field Trips, Outdoor School, Geography Education, Camp Maintenance

IP TAKE:  GFF has been funding over 75 percent of grant requests lately. It's a niche funder, but if you align with its interests, you have a great chance at funding.

PROFILE: The goal of the Gray Family Foundation (GFF) is to create sustainable communities with people committed to Oregon’s natural environment. Since 1997, the Gray Family has given out over $103 million through the Oregon Community Foundation. GFF, founded in 2012, is a supporting organization of the Oregon Community Foundation. It's the family foundation of John and Betty Gray, whose fortune came from Omark Industries’ OREGON chainsaw brand, as well as Oregon properties like the Salishan Lodge, Sunriver Resort, Skamania Lodge, and John’s Landing in Portland.

Through its funding, GFF aims to increase student attendance at the Outdoor School, boost teaching capacity in environmental literacy and provide middle school field trips for environmental education. GFF also funds programs for geography literacy at all grade levels and efforts to improve outdoor overnight camp facilities.

The environmental education program and the geography education program focus on K-12 teachers and students. The overnight, residential Outdoor School programs are for fifth and sixth-grade students. The camp maintenance program does not have an open application process.

Only organizations working in Oregon or benefiting Oregon communities are eligible for GFF grants. The foundation typically supports about 47 percent of its grants in the Portland metro region and about 53 percent in the rest of the state, which includes rural areas. According to the foundation, “The metro area tends to represent more program opportunities focused on demographic equity, while the less urban areas and rural areas provide more opportunities for socioeconomic equity programming.”

GFF likes to support the launch of new projects in topics with which is is unfamiliar. So this is a good funder for lesser-known groups and niche areas to get familiar with. It often gives smaller grants and spreads its support widely, rather than giving big support to fewer groups. Acquisition of land for conservation purposes and capital campaigns for new buildings are not considered for grants.

The review process typically takes about three months from receipt of a grant application. About 90 grants are awarded per year, and the average grant amount is about $13,000.  

In a recent year, the foundation received 137 grant applications and funded 107 of them. In the past, GFF has had two competitive grant cycles per year. Current deadlines can be found on the website's Grants Calendar page.

There are three staff members and seven board members. General questions can be directed to 503-552-3500 or grants@grayff.org. Keep up with this funder through its In the News section and press releases.

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