Dedicated support to help rural Oregon towns thrive

Small Community Initiative

Our Grantees

For 2019, the town selected for funding was Warrenton. We are championing the motivated group of citizen volunteers who have assembled as the new nonprofit Spruce Up Warrenton.

For 2020, the town selected for funding was Milton-Freewater.  The Milton-Freewater Downtown Alliance is working to create Freewater Square, a community gathering space with business incubators.

For 2021, the Applegate Valley has been selected as our 3rd grantee in the Small Community Initiative. A Greater Applegate is building community by sustaining and enhancing local connections that promote the environmental, economic and social vitality of the Applegate Valley.

For 2022, we are prioritizing applications under the following criteria:

  • Town’s population is under 15,000 people
  • Focus of mission and primary activities is in that small town in Oregon
  • Not adjacent to an urban area
  • Not inside of a metropolitan area
  • Activities formally support or engage multiple agencies and businesses

Our application also allows submissions from towns or organizations that feel like they are a close fit for the program priorities, but who are perhaps on the cusp outside of the eligibility criteria above; we understand that there are varying definitions of rural and unique circumstances around Oregon. We are open to listening to any rural organization who feels like the program goals below are exemplified in their work.

Interested? Applications will re-open in February 2022.
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Our Vision for the Initiative

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, in advance of their annual grant renewal. 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.