Anti-poverty group shutting down

Partnership to End Poverty lost its only source of funding

By Leslie Pugmire Hole / The Bulletin

Published Feb 22, 2013 at 04:00AM

Ten years after its inception as a high-profile Central Oregon-based nonprofit, Partnership to End Poverty has announced that 2013 will be its last year.

There was foreshadowing last fall when the organization shared the news that its only source of funding, Northwest Area Foundation, would be ending its fiscal support, but the announcement made Thursday by Jason Carr, the partnership’s executive director, was the first official word.

“Our funding stream was never meant to be continuous,” said Carr. “We’ve reached the point where they (Northwest Area Foundation) felt they had made the investment intended for Central Oregon.”

Unlike nonprofits that provide direct services, Partnership to End Poverty — initially known as Central Oregon Partnership — focused on providing funds to partner nonprofits that addressed breaking the cycle of poverty by providing services to build self-sufficiency.

The organization typically funneled about $1 million a year to various efforts in the region aimed at workforce and education, health, leadership and other capacity-building programs.

With the loss of outside funding, the partnership’s board had to decide whether it would be the right choice to continue and to begin vying against its local partner organizations for grants and donations, said Carr.

“We didn’t think it would be appropriate, going after the same dollars, given the current economic climate,” he said.

Nonprofits that have received grants from the organization have been aware this day was coming, said Carr.

The partnership’s most recent grants include Mosaic Medical’s low-cost clinics and a fixed bus route for Cascades East Transit in Redmond, connecting the city core with the Redmond Central Oregon Community College campus and a nearby workforce training center.

A new $30,000 grant for the regional Latino Community Association has yet to see results, but hopefully that’s only a matter of time, said LCA Executive Director Brad Porterfield.

“It helps us to get that seed money because other foundations look at that — they like to see an organization had received big grants before they decide (to make a donation),” he said.

The grant will fund a Latino Family Empowerment Center in Redmond, where individuals and families can receive workforce training, especially in computers, said Porterfield. Ideally, the program will also be able to support child care to enable adults to more easily use the services.

Currently, LCA operates out of small offices inside two county buildings. The grant from Partnership to End Poverty may enable it to move into its own location and have room for larger events and trainings, said Porterfield.

Sustaining a Redmond headquarters will take more than the $30,000 grant — especially with the partnership bowing out — so LCA has applied for two sizable grants that, if received, will move the project forward and perhaps build its programming.

“We can dream and hope and pray we get bigger grants,” said Porterfield.

Partnership to End Poverty’s board is currently setting priorities for its last year, said Carr, ensuring that its last funds are spent equitably throughout Central Oregon and according to the highest need and most potential.

One thing identified as a strong need for all nonprofits, he said, was help with the business side of things: board management, staff development, technology and budgets. That may be an area of focus for this year, Carr said.

“We’re looking at whether there’s an existing nonprofit that could help other organizations with that,” he said. “Or do we need one? Nonprofits are typically more focused on helping, not operations. We want to find ways for our funds to last beyond our history.”

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