The mission of the OCF Research Program is to help the foundation make wise decisions and evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts to improve life in Oregon. The OCF Research Program provides research and data-driven information to inform OCF’s priorities, activities and operations; provides impartial research and analysis of Oregon’s pressing issues; and assesses the outcomes of OCF’s programs and initiatives.

  • OCF at at Glance

    The Research Program analyzes OCF funds and the topic areas, regions, and populations that are supported by OCF grants.

    OCF’s total endowment has grown nearly 380% since 2001 and 19% between 2015 and 2016. OCF’s endowment is made up of different types of funds. The OCF Board determines the priorities and use of Discretionary Funds. Donor Advised Funds are funds that name fund advisors who makes grant recommendations for the funds. Endowment Funds are nonprofit organizations’ endowments housed at OCF. Designated Funds name particular organizations as the recipient of the fund. Volunteer advisory committees are responsible for making grant recommendations from Community Advised Funds. Scholarship Funds have been established to support scholarships for students.

    Growth of the OCF endowment:


    OCF Grantmaking

    In 2016, OCF made $41.9M in education grants and scholarships, representing the largest area of grantmaking for the foundation. Over one-third of OCF’s discretionary grantmaking funds education programs primarily in the areas of early childhood education, out-of-school time and mentoring, and K-12 education. Click here for a look at OCF’s grantmaking across all topic areas..

                                          education grants

  • Program Evaluation at OCF
    The Oregon Community Foundation conducts evaluation of its programs and initiatives in order to promote learning and continuous improvement among staff, grantees and partners; to inform strategic decision making; and ultimately, to maximize positive impact for Oregon. OCF’s Research Program conducts program evaluations internally as well as contracting with external researchers for additional evaluation work.

    Brief descriptions of current program evaluation projects are listed below.

    Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative (OPEC)

    • OPEC, a partnership between OCF, The Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, the Collins Foundation, and OSU that began in 2010, supports delivery of high-quality parenting education programs and coordinated efforts to strengthen regional parenting education systems. OPEC contracts with Oregon State University’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families for evaluation, technical assistance, and professional development. The evaluation tracks information about the services provided and families served along with self-report information about the impact of parenting education. Read more about OPEC outcomes.

    P-3 Alignment

    • Programs across the country are demonstrating that aligning early education organizations with elementary schools—and reaching out to parents of young children—can help ensure school readiness and future success. OCF, in partnership with the Lora L. and Martin N. Kelly Family Foundation Trust, is supporting these efforts in Oregon’s first statewide P-3 (prenatal to grade 3) alignment grant program. The three-year grant program, launched in 2014, is providing support for nine programs and includes an evaluation conducted by Portland State University’s Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services. The PSU evaluation team is documenting key activities, events, and outcomes of the grants; providing technical assistance for grantees around using data for planning; and collecting information about systems-level changes and lessons learned.

    K-12 Student Success: Out-of-School Time Initiative

    • To increase student attendance and academic achievement, OCF has launched the K-12 Student Success grant program. In November 2013, OCF approved 14 three-year grants in areas around the state to community-based out-of-school time programs that offer academic support, positive adult role models and parent engagement programming. In 2014, OCF awarded grants to seven additional sites through a partnership with The Ford Family Foundation. Programs are focusing on middle school students of color, rural, and low-income students. The evaluation of this grant program, conducted internally by OCF's Research Program, includes both a process evaluation aimed at learning how well out-of-school time programs incorporate known and promising practices as well as appropriate adaptations of these practices for middle-school students and culturally specific groups, and an outcome evaluation focused on determining whether the program generates positive outcomes for students. In addition, the evaluation supports grantee use of data to inform program adaptation and improvement as well as to help grantees build capacity to do their own ongoing evaluation work, and will contribute meaningfully to the knowledge base within the out-of-school time and education communities by sharing lessons learned through the initiative.

    Studio to School Initiative

    • In order to increase community capacity to deliver on-going arts education, in 2014 OCF launched a statewide arts education initiative. Studio to School is a 5-year grant program that supports 18 collaborative projects between schools and community arts organizations to design and deliver sustainable arts education opportunities that have potential for replication. OCF's evaluation of this program, conducted internally by OCF's Research Program, includes both a process study to learn how arts education programming is developed and delivered and an outcome study to document how well grantee projects contribute to positive outcomes for students. In addition, the evaluation supports grantee use of data to inform program adaptation and improvement as well as to help grantees build capacity to do their own ongoing evaluation work, and will contribute meaningfully to the knowledge base within the arts education and funding communities by sharing lessons learned through the initiative.

    Creative Heights

    • In recognition of the need for arts and culture organizations to test new ideas and to stretch their creative capacity, in 2014 OCF launched the Creative Heights Initiative. Through this four-year initiative, OCF is providing grants to help arts and culture organizations take strategic risks in the creation and dissemination of high-quality new works in Oregon, as well as providing unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture. OCF is contracting with an independent consultant for an evaluation of the Creative Heights Initiative, which consists of a qualitative study of the implementation and achievements of the program including an examination of whether the program increases opportunity to create innovative projects and increases availability of new works of art in Oregon.

    Children's Dental Health Initiative

    • The goal of OCF's Children's Dental Health Initiative launched in 2014, is to change how dental services are paid for and provided in order to increase access to care and decrease dental disease for Oregon's children. The 5-year initiative focuses on building public awareness of the issue; funding upstream approaches to oral health care for children; and advocating for improved policies, structures, and funding models to support children's dental health. OCF's evaluation of this initiative, conducted internally by OCF's Research Program, assesses OCF's efforts to build awareness of the burden of children's dental disease in Oregon; documents the successes and challenges of funding First Tooth Training and school-based prevention program models; assesses whether and how OCF's leadership efforts result in improved policies, structures, and funding models; and identifies lessons learned through the initiative that could improve future policy and systems-improvement initiatives.

    Regional Action Initiative

    • OCF's Regional Action Initiative (RAI) brings communities together to identify and solve local problems. Each of OCF's eight regional Leadership Councils led a process to engage community members, focus on a local issue and fund successful strategies for change. OCF's evaluation of the RAI, conducted externally by NPC Research, includes process and outcome studies of each of the eight region's efforts along with a cross-site evaluation. Read more about RAI outcomes


  • Research about Oregon

    The Oregon Community Foundation is committed to furthering the availability of impartial research and information about Oregon’s people and places, philanthropy, and nonprofit sector. To that end, OCF is engaged in two ongoing research projects, and provides support for research conducted by other parties.

    Tracking Oregon’s Progress (TOP Indicators) Project

    The Oregon Community Foundation partners with Oregon State University’s Rural Studies Program and Extension Service to conduct this study, which tracks longitudinal indicators of Oregon’s economy, people, communities, and environment. In addition to producing a statewide report, the TOP Indicators website allows interested parties to generate custom reports to compare counties or drill down to particular areas of interest. The project identifies trends in the state that suggest both progress toward prosperity as well as issues that may be a source of future barriers and concerns. OCF and OSU hope that the report and website will be used by policymakers, government analysts, the press, business and civic leaders and engaged citizens to better understand the current social, economic, and environmental condition of the state.

    Giving in Oregon

    OCF produces the Giving in Oregon report, an annual report on philanthropy in Oregon. This report utilizes IRS data to track charitable contributions made by individual Oregonians as well as donations received by Oregon nonprofits. The report provides comparisons of Oregon to the nation, and provides analyses by sector and by county.

    Support for other research

    In addition to OCF’s research projects, OCF provides support to other entities conducting valuable research on Oregon. In 2013, OCF was one of four funders (along with OPB, OSU, and OHSU) of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Survey conducted by DHM Research. OCF also was a funder of the Oregon Nonprofit Sector Report conducted by Portland State University and the Nonprofit Association of Oregon. In addition, OCF supports the Association of Fundraising Pofessionals’ Philanthropy Trends Survey.

  • Research and Evaluation Reports

    Research Reports Produced or Supported by OCF:

    Evaluation Reports Produced or Supported by OCF:

  • Contact Information

    For more information about OCF’s Research Program, please contact Sonia Worcel.

    For information about the K-12 Student Success: Out-of-School Time, Studio to School, or Children’s Dental Health Initiative Evaluations, please contact Kim Leonard.