Sherwood Trust

OVERVIEW: This family funder supports nonprofits serving communities from Dayton, Washington, to Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Topics of interest are economic, community, organizational, and leadership development.

FUNDING AREAS: Economic development, community development, organizational development, leadership development, youth

IP TAKE: Sherwood is into collaboration in a big way. This means that your nonprofit had better embrace the collaborative spirit as well.

PROFILE: The Sherwood Trust carries on the legacy of giving of Donald and Virginia Sherwood, who lived in the Walla Walla Valley. Donald Sherwood is known for establishing one of the Pacific Northwest's most successful “supermarkets” for financial services. The foundation was established in 1991 and has invested approximately $30 million in local nonprofits. The Northwest region in focus stretches from Dayton, Washington, to Milton-Freewater, Oregon.

Areas of interest are economic development, community development, organizational development, and leadership development. Youth is also a big focus. To guide its grantmaking, Sherwood partnered with Blue Mountain Action Council to identify the current challenges facing local youth. One task force was established to address the needs of the prenatal to 18-month-old demographic, while another was formed to support youth in grades nine through 12 as they transition from school to work.

The foundation likes to work with other donors to support nonprofit needs, may encourage matching funds from applicants, and discourages frequent annual grant requests. It has awarded over $1 million in grants each year to groups including the Kirkman House Museum, the Blue Mountain Humane Society, and the Little Theater of Walla Walla. A list of recipients is here. Most recent awards have been between $1,000 and $280,000.

Annual grant deadlines have been March 1. Grant decisions are typically made by June. The grant application can be downloaded from the funder’s website.

Sherwood’s community leadership program is based on the curriculum developed by the Ford Family Foundation and Rural Development Initiatives. These classes involve 20 to 30 individuals with varied levels of leadership experience. The trust has also partnered with Walla Walla Community College to provide training sessions to local nonprofits. There are usually four to six opportunities each year. It partners with the YMCA of Walla Walla to provide annual one-day workshops on topics like diversity and community benefit. Sherwood is a founding partner of the Statewide Capacity Collaborative, which was established in 2010 and involves big names like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Seattle Foundation.

The staff has just two members and there are five board members and two advisory board members.


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