PCUN receives $100k grant
Woodburn-based Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), received a $100,000 grant as part of a $1.7 million distribution from Oregon Consumer Justice.
OCJ announced the awards on Thursday, Feb. 25, as part of a mission to advance consumer protection with emergency response grants. In total, 26 entities received funds.
"We were honored, and relieved honestly, to get the financial support of OCJ, especially after the effects of Oregon's Labor Day wildfires. Those two weeks, and post air quality finally coming back to normal," PCUN Executive Director Reyna Lopez said. "PCUN came in contact with about 1,000 people who needed help. This funding allowed us to increase capacity in our healthy workplaces program, which is the main program at PCUN that focuses on farmworkers outreach, services, and education."
Lopez stressed that no lobbying or is done through the healthy workplace program.
OCJ sources said grant recipients were determined through a trust-based philanthropy model, which emphasizes trust, transparency, dialogue and mutual learning in the process.
The official award announcement noted that trust-based grants place the responsibility of due diligence on the grant maker rather than the grant seeker, simplifying and streamlining the process by removing unnecessary burdens and barriers for grantees. "Our goal was to have an immediate impact on consumers who are most vulnerable in our state, so we structured our grant making to get financial help quickly to these 26 organizations," OCJ board member Sayer Jones said. "Particularly for these first rounds of grants, we focused on helping those impacted by COVID-19 and last summer's wildfires."
OCJ cited McKenzie Community Development Corporation as an example. It supports economic, environmental and community well being for an area in Lane County that was largely devastated by last year's wildfires. The nonprofit received $25,000 to help rebuild and reunite nine communities of the McKenzie River area where 450 homes were destroyed.
"We selected nonprofits that serve communities in geographical regions throughout the state, and we're incredibly proud of how many culturally-specific organizations we were able to connect with and support through this process," Jones said.
Award recipients ranged from Burns to Astoria.
Impact at PCUN
OCJ sources described PCUN as a nonprofit "in the heart of the Oregon Latinx community, and in one of the most vibrant agricultural areas in the state, PCUN is Oregon's Farmworker Union, fighting for low-wage workers and Latinx families."
The PCUN grant will afford the hiring of two organizers to engage in active listening at work sites, supporting immigrants regarding housing, and referrals to consumer legal protection through Oregon Law Center, Legal Aid and other outfits.
"We were able to add staffing specific to that program, so that we have culturally competent outreach to farm workers who needed different levels of support during wildfires," Lopez said. "Most of the conversations led to our team being able to identify the various needs for workers, and their families in that moment.
"We also have been able to get one time financial aid to farm-worker families affected by wildfires – especially those excluded by FEMA support -- in addition to other items that victims of wildfires experienced, including getting them supplies, respirators, goggles for workers, air purifiers, medicines, inhalers, toiletries, hotels, foodboxes, and we paid some emergency rooms bills for people who had health issues during the wildfires," she added.
Grant funding sources
The grants have been distributed over the past three months with funding coming from a "cy pres" award, money from unclaimed-class action settlements. Oregon Consumer Justice was founded in 2019 and charged with ensuring that all people in Oregon experience a safe and fair marketplace.
In March 2015, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 2700 into law, which mandated unclaimed funds be used for the benefit of consumers, not corporations. Prior to that, companies that lost class action lawsuits were allowed to keep unclaimed settlement money.
The new law was applied for the first time in 2019 in the class action lawsuit Scharfstein v. BP West Coast Products, LLC. Former Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Jerome LaBarre ruled that unclaimed funds from the class-action lawsuit be used to establish a consumer advocacy nonprofit organization. which led to the founding of Oregon Consumer Justice.
That has been a boon to localities statewide.
"We're extremely grateful...A huge thank you to OCJ," Lopez said. "We were able to pivot quickly with the financial support for our wildfire work. We now know how to have more permanent infrastructure to be able to adequately respond to wildfires and their effects on our community locally.
"Also, with these funds we're preparing for wildfire season. This time we feel more equipped, and (able) to prepare our staff for the next wildfire emergency."
Oregon Consumer Justice announced the following awards on Thursday, Feb. 25:
211info — Portland — $60,000;
AGE+ — Clackamas — $75,000;
Black United Fund of Oregon — Portland — $76,000;
Burns Paiute Tribe — Burns — $10,000;
Coalition of Communities of Color — Portland — $85,000;
Community Alliance of Tenants — Portland — $75,000;
Consejo Hispano — Astoria — $50,000;
DevNW — Oregon City — $50,000;
East County Rising Community Projects — Gresham — $60,000;
Four Rivers Health Care — Ontario — $50,000;
Imagine Black — Portland — $100,000;
Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization — Portland — $75,000;
Latino Community Association — Bend/Redmond/Madras — $50,000;
Legal Aid Services of Oregon — 8 regional offices — $60,000;
McKenzie CDC — Lane County(Eugene/Springfield) — $25,000;
National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) — Washington, D.C. — $10,000;
Native American Youth and Family Center — Portland — $75,000;
Neighborhood Partnerships — Portland — $100,000;
Oregon Food Bank — 5 locations, 21 statewide food banks and more than 1,400 food assistance sites — $50,000;
PCUN — Woodburn — $100,000;
Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives — Portland —$120,000;
Rogue Action Center — Phoenix — $75,000;
UNETE — Medford — $74,000;
Unite Oregon — Portland, Washington County & Medford chapters — $61,325;
Warm Springs Community Action Team — Warm Springs — $75,000;
YWCA of Greater Portland — Portland Metro — $75,000.
Learn more about each entity at https://bit.ly/2NHSwVi.
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