How We Work
Imagine a Washington region where every family lives in a safe, affordable home. Where every adult has the means to build assets and plan for the future. Where every young person grows up with the opportunity and training to land a family-sustaining job.
If you are working to achieve this vision for a more vibrant, prosperous, and equitable Washington, the Meyer Foundation stands ready as your partner.
Our region is confronting a number of pressing challenges. If we don’t work together to address these challenges with a spirit of fierce urgency, our region’s most vulnerable residents stand to fall further behind.
In December 2015, we outlined a strategic plan that aims to better align our work and our resources to help build a more equitable region. Our plan is rooted in Meyer’s long-held values, builds on the strengths of our past work, and draws on the creativity and insight of the many outstanding leaders and organizations we’ve supported over the years. At the same time, it recognizes our community’s changing needs.
Below is more information about this new approach — and how we hope to partner with you to build a stronger Washington region.
The Meyer Foundation pursues and invests in solutions that build an equitable Greater Washington community in which economically vulnerable people thrive.
What this means: It’s not enough to help individuals in need. Instead, we need to dig deeper and work to create systems and structures that promote equity in our region. This new mission calls on us to seek partners and test new strategies and ideas.
Why are we taking on this new mission?
The Washington region is confronting a social and economic crisis — one that has our most vulnerable residents facing complex, interrelated challenges.
At the root of this crisis is a deep, longstanding economic divide that creates barriers for low-income people to get family-sustaining jobs, find affordable housing, access education, and become financially stable. These barriers are even greater for people of color.
This divide is not new — it is ingrained in our systems, institutions and social fabric. But its consequences are growing more severe. In the District of Columbia alone, the top 5 percent of earners have incomes 26 times higher than those in the bottom 20 percent. This disparity is roughly twice the national average.
Despite our best efforts — and the efforts of countless other organizations that work to improve conditions in the Washington region— this gap not only persists but is widening.
As a result, we cannot keep approaching the same problems in the same way and expect different results.
Instead, we must work differently. That means being clearer about what we’re hoping to accomplish, bolder in our leadership, more comprehensive in our thinking, and more collaborative in working to achieve our region’s shared goals.
Meyer’s new mission — and the approaches we take to accomplish this mission — is our attempt to work collaboratively to address the region’s most pressing challenges in a new, more focused way.
Against this backdrop, the Meyer Foundation is working to achieve three broad and interconnected goals:
- The region provides an adequate supply of housing that low-income individuals and families can afford, and individuals and families remain stably housed.
- Ensure that individuals and families in the bottom quartile of income build assets and increase their financial security.
- Prepare youth and adults to obtain family-sustaining jobs and remain employed.
These goals are ambitious. And they cannot be achieved in isolation.
Many of our region’s challenges are rooted in a long history of inequality, and disproportionately impact communities of color. As we work toward achieving these three interconnected goals, we must also tackle issues of racial and ethnic inequity, since they have been inextricably linked with growing disparities.
While Meyer’s grants are important, our strategic planning process has reinforced our understanding that the Foundation plays other valued roles in the community—and that we should strengthen and leverage some of these roles for greater impact. With that in mind, we plan to employ the following four strategies to achieve these goals.
Grantmaking is a central role in Meyer’s work. We continue to provide operating support to highly effective organizations whose work aligns with our long-term goals and invest in organizations and programs that advance an equitable Greater Washington.
Meyer is expanding capacity-building support to help organizations and networks strengthen management and leadership, assess and increase impact, attract new funding, and align and partner with others. In addition, Meyer partners with leading capacity-building providers to offer targeted, high-impact programs that address areas of greatest need.
Convening and Advocacy
In addition to making grants to support advocacy, Meyer leverages knowledge and social capital to bring together people, organizations, and sectors around issues that require bold leadership and action, and serve as a leading regional voice on the barriers that prevent people who are economically vulnerable from thriving.
We support and participate in efforts to align organizations, businesses, and government agencies that are working toward shared goals. We also promote collaborative approaches and work to attract additional capital to those efforts.