A new program to help rural Oregon towns thrive

Thank you for all our submissions to the inaugural year of The Reser Family Foundation Small Community Initiative. The deadline for 2019 has passed. We are thrilled to receive such a large group of amazing ideas from folks all across Oregon!


When communities of every size do well, our state becomes even stronger. To bring greater prosperity and better quality of life to Oregon’s small towns, The Reser Family Foundation is proud to introduce our Small Community Initiative (SCI) in support of rural Oregon communities outside of metropolitan areas.

In addition to our currently available grant programs, small communities outside of metropolitan areas are also eligible to apply to SCI. Activities in the SCI may be outside of our annual grant cycles’ specific funding priorities; a wider scope of projects will be considered. Through the initiative, the Foundation will support the community for up to four years, by way of:

  • Providing Foundation grants to fund certain approved projects annually for up to four years, considering Community Challenge Grants and Matching Funds to be a catalyst;
  • Partnering Foundation staff with each community as champions; and
  • Providing infrastructure to the community to support fundraising efforts, event coordination/management,  crowd-sourcing idea generation, non-profit directory and partner search, and provide social connections, expertise and ideas.

Once a community is approved for SCI, the Foundation will partner with the community’s efforts, providing up to four annual grants of up to $10,000 each.

Program Goals

The SCI values input and participation from many community stakeholders, including town residents, local business and government leaders, and regional economic partners. Our overall goals are to:

  • Promote a climate that encourages citizen involvement, open dialogue and innovation;
  • Prepare leaders to more effectively plan and implement local economic initiatives;
  • Support sustained revitalization as a critical component of success; and
  • Encourage small towns to think beyond size limits and actively build connections with regional economic initiatives and a wide range of economic partners.

Strategies for Success

Our approach involves analysis and planning to ensure that each community is equipped to succeed. Strategies include:

  • Meeting with community leaders and stakeholders to gauge level of commitment;
  • Documenting the community’s hopes, dreams, challenges and opportunities through a community assessment, which may identify the following:
    • The state of the community, and its overall goals;
    • Key leaders, policy-makers, residents and other stakeholders
    • Potential strategic business, nonprofit and public partnerships
    • Community organizations that can provide plan structure
    • Fiscal management and access to government/municipal funds
    • Ability to raise funding and to acquire in-kind support
    • Ideas for sustainable community events
    • And more
  • Evaluating the community assessment results and developing appropriate measurements and outcomes with community stakeholders;
  • Along with community leaders, developing a proposal for the Foundation;
  • Developing a four-year budget and plan for success that includes key benchmarks; and
  • Periodic presentations from the community to the Foundation including community profile and community assessment.

Evaluation and Outcomes

Communities in our SCI program are responsible for providing a report to the Foundation annually, due on the anniversary of the grant receipt date. We encourage the community to track and evaluate benchmarks and outcomes, as well as to make refinements and adjustments along the way to improve effectiveness. We want every community to get the maximum benefit from its SCI program involvement!

Have a question about the SCI?

Email Lacey Sortman, our Grant and Program Coordinator.

Sign up to get notified  when the Small Community Initiative application reopens.