OCF Initiatives


Economic Vitality

A strong economy is vital to our state. To ensure a thriving Oregon now and in the future, OCF is deploying grants, loans and venture capital to support youth education and mentoring, scale Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and build the new natural resources economy.

  • Overview


    In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, OCF’s board of directors made jobs and the economy a strategic priority for the Foundation.

    The board’s Strategic Opportunities Committee identified four strategies for building Oregon’s economy:

    • Mentor youth and give them hands-on career education and experience.
    • Scale Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by improving access to mentors and capital.
    • Build Oregon’s new natural resources economy to improve rural job creation and retention.
    • Provide leadership in understanding and improving Oregon’s capital landscape.

    To achieve these aims, OCF has prioritized the following activities:

    • Investing in Oregon-based seed, early-stage and growth venture capital funds
    • Directing grant funding to organizations that offer career education and mentoring for youth, provide financial and educational resources for entrepreneurs, and create jobs in the new natural resources economy
    • Making loans to community organizations that provide financial services and mentoring to underserved urban and rural entrepreneurs and that support the sustainable management of Oregon’s natural resources

    To learn how OCF’s commitment to economic vitality is transforming lives and communities across our state, click through the tabs above or download our 2017 economic vitality report.

    Staff Assistance

    Most of OCF’s economic vitality grant, investment and loan opportunities are offered by invitation only. However, competitive economic vitality grants may be available through our Community Grant program. For more information on OCF’s commitment to economic vitality, please contact:

  • Venture Capital Funds

    Oregon Venture Capital Funds

    OCF has invested more than $7.6 million in venture capital funds that support Oregon-based startups. To date, OCF’s investments have supported about 65 companies, which have collectively created an estimated minimum of 995 jobs in our state.

    In 2008, the board adopted a policy to invest 0.5 percent of OCF’s endowment in Oregon-based venture capital funds. Since then, the Foundation has invested in a wide variety of statewide and regional funds, including:

    As part of our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, OCF is proud to support funds that are building an equitable economy by investing in businesses founded by women, people of color, veterans, and members of rural communities. Download our 2017 economic vitality report to learn more.

    To date, the Foundation’s investment in seed and early-stage capital funds has had a significant effect on Oregon’s funding landscape. According to the 2016 Oregon Capital Scan, the number of business accelerators and incubators has increased from 38 to 70 since 2014. This represents a major advance for early-stage companies in Oregon.

  • Economic Vitality Grants

    Economic Vitality Grants

    Our economic vitality grantmaking focuses on three major priorities: fostering youth entrepreneurship and mentoring, scaling Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and building the new natural resources economy to improve rural communities and our environment.

    To date, nearly $1.4 million in grant funding has helped to create or retain an estimated minimum of 300 jobs, many of them in rural communities. This funding has also expanded business education and mentoring to rural counties and other underserved areas. And it has restored tens of thousands of acres of forestlands, rangelands and watersheds across our state.

    These goals are supported by our Community Grant program, which awarded nearly $1.4 million to foster economic vitality between 2010 and 2016. These community grants reached 19 counties and included five statewide projects. Download our 2017 economic vitality report to learn more.


    OCF’s community water solutions pilot funds projects that encourage productive conversations about water quality and allocation throughout rural Oregon communities. By fostering a consensus between residents, land owners, farmers, tribal leaders and other stakeholders, these conversations can guide state and federal decision-makers in prioritizing funding and policies for voluntary, place-based water solutions that will benefit current and future generations. The pilot has two overarching goals:

    1. Empower diverse community members and stakeholders to collaborate on identifying durable, place-based solutions to water quality and quantity issues.
    2. Craft local solutions to water issues that will influence statewide policy decisions and funding priorities.

    As of November 2017, OCF’s Strategic Opportunities Committee has directed nearly $240,000 in grant funds to place-based water planning activities and programs across our state. (To learn more, download Community Water Solutions Grants as of November 2017.)

    In addition to facilitating community networking and consensus, place-based water planning potentially gives our rural communities access to millions of state and federal dollars for water infrastructure projects.

    OCF’s community water solutions grants are offered by invitation only. For more information, contact Sybil Ackerman-Munson, consultant for environment and natural resources: sybil@ackermanmunson.com.

    Oregon Capital Scan

    OCF’s economic vitality grantmaking also supports the Oregon Capital Scan, a comprehensive biennial analysis of the state’s funding landscape conducted in partnership with Business Oregon, CTC | myCFO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, The Ford Family Foundation, The Lemelson Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Northwest Health Foundation, the Office of the Oregon State Treasurer, and the Oregon Small Business Development Center Network.

    The first Oregon Capital Scan was released in March 2012; its findings catalyzed OCF’s $7.6 million investment in seed and early-stage funds. Subsequent reports are available below:

  • Impact Investing

    Impact Investing

    In 2013, OCF’s board authorized $3 million to make loans to established Oregon nonprofits that are able to measure and report community impact. To date, OCF has directed $2.2 million in economic vitality loans to organizations that are projected to create or retain more than 570 jobs across our state.

    In 2014, OCF launched an impact investing pilot program for organizations that:

    • Provide financial services and mentoring to underserved urban and rural entrepreneurs.
    • Support the sustainable management of Oregon’s natural resources.
    • Help Oregonians to appreciate and strengthen the interconnections between rural and urban communities.

    Since then, OCF’s impact loans to community partners like Craft3, Ascent Funding and Ecotrust have funded economically and culturally transformative new projects like The Redd on Salmon Street, while also supporting jobs and environmental quality in underserved areas from Brookings to Ontario. To learn more, download our 2017 economic vitality report.

    Oregon Impact Fund

    The Oregon Community Foundation’s Oregon Impact Fund lends to nonprofit organizations and for-profit social ventures in Oregon that create quantifiable impact in the areas of affordable housing, education, health care access, natural resource management and job creation in underserved communities.

    The $20 million Oregon Impact Fund, resulting from $10 million in donor commitments and $10 million in OCF endowment funds, invests primarily through intermediaries – funds or financial institutions that receive investments and then re-lend to businesses, nonprofits and individuals. While the Fund focuses primarily on intermediaries with a proven track record of social impact and repayment of investment funds, in certain cases the Fund will also consider direct investments in individual projects or newer intermediaries.

    Investments range from $500,000 to $2,000,000 with terms of five to 10 years. Investment diligence and terms for each opportunity are reviewed in detail by OCF’s Strategic Opportunities Committee and approved by the OCF Board of Directors.

    If you would like more information on what kind of opportunities are a good match for the Fund, or if you would like more information on participating in the Fund through a Donor Advised Fund, please contact:

  • Success Stories

    Success Stories

    Here are just a few of the successes that OCF’s economic vitality activities have supported so far. You can find many other inspiring stories in our 2017 economic vitality report.

    Michael Gray, CEO of GlobeSherpaGlobeSherpa, an innovative mobile ticketing platform for public transit, was co-founded by Michael Gray and Nat Parker. In 2012, the company received an investment of $835,000 from Oregon Angel Fund. In 2013, GlobeSherpa’s platform was piloted by Portland’s TriMet system. Since then, the firm’s mobile ticketing technology has been adopted by transit agencies in 20 cities. In 2015, GlobeSherpa was acquired by Daimler-owned RideScout. Now known as moovel North America, it employs more than 110 people at its headquarters in Portland.

    Maria RomanMaria Roman is a seamstress in Beaverton. Two years ago, she was running a struggling alterations business in a location with poor visibility and signage. In addition to providing loan funds, Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon helped Maria to secure an online presence and trained her in accounting and inventory controls. It also helped her relocate to a larger, more attractive space. Today, Maria’s annual revenues have increased by 1,600 percent. She has a delivery vehicle and a full-time employee, and her credit score has jumped from 510 to 718. Maria’s dream is to buy a duplex and have a garden.

    BiologixIn 2016, two students in the Technology Entrepreneurship Program (TEP) at University of Oregon’s Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship worked on a project with OHSU and OCTRI to assess the business feasibility of a novel bladder cancer treatment developed at OHSU. The data these students gathered can be used to advance this research through grant applications to the federal Small Business Innovation Research program. To broaden the TEP students’ experience, three Oregon MBA students also joined the team to develop the business concept and to create a plan to bring it to market. With permission from OHSU, this team is now taking the concept to the business plan competition circuit.

    Malheur Lumber Company (Photo: Sustainable Northwest)In late 2012, Malheur Lumber Company was preparing to close its sawmill in John Day — the last remaining sawmill in Grant County — due to a shortage of logs. As part of the U.S. Forest Service’s restoration effort, and with facilitation from Sustainable Northwest, a local contractor was granted a sustainable logging contract in Malheur National Forest, guaranteeing predictable work and a 10-year supply of logs. As a result, the sawmill in John Day has not only stayed open but has also added approximately 40 jobs. So far, 6,100 acres of federal forest have been restored and 87,000 tons of sawlogs and biomass removed. Photo: Sustainable Northwest.

    Tyrone Bailey (Photo: Twirl Advertising & Design, LLC)In 2012, Tyrone Bailey launched his own hauling business. Bailey’s Construction Unlimited soon became a prime subcontractor for local projects. Because these contracts often take 30 days or more to pay, he ran into cash flow difficulties. When Tyrone found out that he wouldn’t be able to get affordable financing through a bank, he approached Ascent Funding. With their help, he secured a $50,000 loan for a newer, larger, more reliable truck. He also got a line of credit, which gives him enough working capital to cover his fuel and labor costs while awaiting payment. Ascent Funding is now working with Tyrone to improve his company’s financial management skills and credit history. Photo: Twirl Advertising & Design, LLC.