Annual Fundholder Meeting

Annual Fundholder Meeting

The Gorge Community Foundation held its annual “state of the foundation” meeting via Zoom on Thursday, Nov. 8 with over 30 donor advisors and representatives of designated fundholder organizations in attendance.  Participants received an update on the Foundation’s funds and investment strategy from Ferguson Wellman fund manager Jim Coats as well as news from board chair Gil Sharp and executive director Jill Burnette on GCF activities and grantmaking. Coats’s presentation described Ferguson Wellman’s approach to developing a strategic investment policy during the pandemic, managing risk in a changing environment, and best practices for socially responsible investing.  Thanks to all who participated as we navigated a new online format for convening and sharing information.

Congratulations, scholarship recipients from the class of 2020

Congratulations, scholarship recipients from the class of 2020

This year saw another outstanding group of high school students. We wish them every success in the years ahead.
Scholarship Awards:
Hood River Valley High School
• Laura Douglas Schaefer Memorial Music Scholarship: Chloe Jessica Thorp and Mateo Martin Campos-Davis
• Gorham Babson Family Scholarships: Aileen Castro, Marileisi Castillo, Laura Lachino, Montserrat Pedozza, Jesse Flores
• Leos Scholarships: Melinda Flores, Eva Jones, Abigail Loihl, Grace Skakel, Ellen Sova
• Jernstedt Scholarship: Grace Skakel
• Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship: Marileisi Castillo
Goldendale High School
• Theo Caldwell Memorial Scholarship: Katelynn Gallagher
Lyle School District
Awards are made from the Lyle School Fund to graduating seniors
Burchell grants target food insecurity in Gorge communities

Burchell grants target food insecurity in Gorge communities

The Gorge Community Foundation Board of Directors has announced the following nine grant recipients from the Joan Burchell Fund.  This year’s grants are dedicated to addressing food insecurity throughout the counties that comprise the Gorge, exacerbated by the necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The organizations selected to receive grants will use the funds to increase access to safe, healthy food for children, families and seniors affected by coronavirus measures.

The Dalles Farmers Market: To implement a revamped SNAP program for families to shop for produce and healthy food at the market.

Hood River Farmers Market: To supplement a matching incentive program.

FISH Food Bank: To supplement additional food purchases owing to increased need.

Oregon Food Bank: For food acquisition, storage & distribution specifically for the Columbia Gorge Food Banks.

White Salmon Valley Education Foundation: To provide food to families in the White Salmon area.

The Food Bridge Project: To purchase greenhouse supplies for two farms providing produce for families in need.

Back Packs 4 Kids: To provide meals in Klickikat County to children when not in school.

Stevenson-Carson Educational Foundation: To supplement meals to school age children.

Washington Gorge Action Programs: For of area food banks throughout Klickitat County.

Burchell grant recipients are located in Wasco, Skamania, Klickitat and Hood River Counties and represent a diverse group of applicants. As always, those applications not funded through the Burchell program will be made available to our Donor Advisors.


Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) at GCF

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) at GCF

On April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, GCF’s financial advisors at Ferguson Wellman commented on trends in socially responsible investing and new business practices resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you are interested in GCF’s socially responsible investment portfolio option, please contact Jill at for more information.
A NEW OUTLOOK ON EARTH DAY by Peter Jones, CFA, Vice President, Equity Research and Analysis
Wednesday, April 22, was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In 1970, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and activist Denis Hayes launched a nationwide environmental “teach-in” that later became Earth Day. Although the pandemic disrupted some plans for this milestone anniversary, if Senator Nelson were alive today, he would find emerging business practices of interest.

That is, companies are having to change their business models to adapt to the new normal, and in most cases, are using the downturn as an opportunity to address inefficiencies across corporate functions when the economy begins to recover.  As investors sift through data regarding the impact of the global economic shutdown, corporate updates are likely to include strategies for survival in the near term and plans for positioning themselves in the future, including permanent changes in business practices.

Socially responsible investing (SRI) originally came onto the scene with a goal of using ethical and moral criteria to screen “bad actors” out of client portfolios. From SRI evolved the notion that environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) could have financial relevance. The thesis is that better corporate behavior enables companies to position themselves to face long-term opportunities and threats instead of a myopic focus on near-term profits. By and large, the “E”, or environmental pillar of this discipline gets the most airtime. Nonetheless, the “S” and “G” pillars of social and governance are taking a critical role as we navigate the current pandemic.

As we ponder how sustainability in corporate behavior will evolve during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, several areas stand out, including:

1.      Corporate travel and events

Stay-at-home mandates have shut off all corporate travel, events and entertainment. Yet, employees and their customers still manage to stay connected through programs like Microsoft Teams, WebEx and of course, Zoom. Many companies are finding that these tools are effective in carrying out the tasks typically assigned to in-person meetings or larger events. Of course, in many cases, face-to-face meetings, events and travel are invaluable. But at the very least, the required shutdown is forcing companies to reconsider the cost-benefit of excessive travel and events that can be replicated at a lower cost in terms of time, money and in the use of fossil fuels. It is a reasonable to expect that corporate travel and events will not revert to the old norms any time soon.

2.      Stakeholders beyond shareholders

The primary objective for publicly traded companies is to provide value for its shareholders. However, the nature of the current downturn is requiring companies to consider stakeholders aside from the owners of the company, most importantly their employees. Instead of laying off as many employees as possible in order to protect near-term profits, we are witnessing many companies taking alternative actions, such as eliminating CEO and other C-suite pay. Companies are also using government-assisted furloughs and committing to pay for health benefits for employees who no longer have working hours. In addition, several firms, including Ferguson Wellman, have all but guaranteed that every employee will keep their job. Again, the nature of this crisis has changed the playbook for typical corporate behavior in a recession.

3.      Collapse in oil prices

One of the major side effects of the pandemic has been a dramatic decline in human and industrial mobility. This has caused demand for oil, gasoline and other fossil fuels to collapse. At the same time, “OPEC+” members Russia and Saudi Arabia failed in their negotiations to curtail the supply of oil. The combination of these factors has caused a drop in oil prices to levels not seen in 20 years. The structural movement toward renewables is in large part dependent on the economics. In other words, the incentive to switch to renewables or forego the use of fossil fuels is much stronger when the cost of gasoline is higher. This crisis has eliminated that incentive in some industries, as substitution is no longer a wise economic decision.

4.      Mortality rates and pollution

While there is still a great deal of uncertainty, early studies are beginning to show that communities with high levels of pollution display higher COVID-19 mortality rates. While highly speculative, this discovery could make corporations and voting constituencies more open to behavior, cultural norms and even regulations enacted to reduce the levels of pollution.

5.      Flexible business models

Large corporations are only known to operate in one product type, service offering or customer set are shifting their capabilities to benefit society in these challenging times. Companies such as General Motors have rapidly shifted automotive production facilities to produce key components for ventilators. Nike has shifted some of their facilities that make footwear to produce face shields that are critical for the healthcare workers on the front lines. And of course, healthcare companies, such as Abbott Labs, are rapidly scaling-up production for diagnostics to test antibodies in order to determine COVID immunity. In many cases, there is a natural overlap between acting for the benefit of society and adding to profitability, but this crisis has displayed the tremendous ability of large corporations to do their part.

As always, the past can provide perspective for things to come. After 9/11, we did go back to feeling comfortable with flying, but we continue to take off our shoes when entering airport security. This simple analogy reinforces that as investors and consumers, we most certainly will one day go back to normal, but some practices from recent months will endure. As we evolve into our new normal … we will also find new opportunities to analyze and invest in companies.

Peter Jones, CFA, is vice president of equity research and analysis for Ferguson Wellman Capital Management and lead portfolio manager for our Global Sustainable Investing (GSI) strategy. Launched in 2018 as an ESG solution for individuals and nonprofits that overlays MSCI data on our investment principles, GSI has become the fastest growing investment strategy in the history of our firm.

Burchell Update

The Gorge Community Foundation Board of Directors has announced that 2020 grants from the Joan Burchell Fund will be dedicated to addressing issues of food insecurity throughout the Columbia River Gorge exacerbated by the necessary response to the coronavirus pandemic.  This is a one-time decision to help our communities protect our most vulnerable citizens through this time of need.  If your organization provides meals or access to safe, healthy food and you wish to apply for funding, please click here for more information.  Applications will be due on April 15 and grants awarded by the end of May.
Meet our new investment managers

Meet our new investment managers

After a year-long review process led by the Foundation’s investment committee, the Gorge Community Foundation is delighted to announce that the Portland firm of Ferguson Wellman has been selected as its new investment manager.

The process was initiated by the investment committee, consisting of board chair Gil Sharp, treasurer Nate Reagan, board member Branden Buel and community leader Rob McCormick, as an exercise in prudent financial oversight and a desire to ensure that as the Foundation grows, its assets are managed to the highest standards and with an intentional, articulated investment policy and long-term strategy.  A request for proposal led to responses by four firms, which were then narrowed to two – Ferguson Wellman and incumbent UBS – for further review.  After reviewing the qualifications of both firms, Ferguson Wellman was selected, based on their extensive experience with other regional non-profit foundations including Western Oregon University Foundation and Friends of the Gorge.

The Foundation is deeply appreciative of the professional and skillful handling of our investment portfolio by Keith Sheppard and the Mt. Hood Investment Group of UBS for almost twenty years.

Ferguson Wellman, founded in 1975, is a private, employee-owned Portland investment advisory firm serving individuals, families and institutions.  They have designed and managed customized investment portfolios for clients’ IRAs, trusts, foundations, endowments, corporate retirement and pension plans. The firm manages $4.97 billion for 832 clients.  The Gorge Community Foundation’s account will be managed by executive vice president Jim Coats, an OSU grad with a master’s degree from Columbia University and a long family history in the Gorge ranging from The Dalles to Goldendale.

FW Executive Vice-President Jim Coats

Full house at our annual fundholder breakfast

Full house at our annual fundholder breakfast

The Foundation held its annual “state of the foundation” breakfast at the Hood River Inn on Nov. 14 and the Riverview Room was filled with donor advisors and representatives of designated fundholder organizations to meet new investment manager Jim Coats and hear  updates from board chair Gil Sharp and executive director Jill Burnette on Foundation activities and grantmaking.  Coats’s presentation introduced Ferguson Wellman and described the firm’s approach to developing a strategic investment policy, managing risk in a changing environment, and best practices for socially responsible investment.
2019 Burchell Grants

2019 Burchell Grants

Thank you to all the hardworking and deserving organizations that applied this year and congratulations to these recipients:

The Next Door Raices Program: Gardening supplies for the Raices community garden
CultureSeed: Bending the Bars program for trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness classes to inmates at Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR).
The Dalles Farmers Market: Power of Produce program for kids ages 4-16 to receive a $2 token for fresh fruits and vegetables.
3 Squares Program: Meals for Skamania County students during school breaks
Columbia Riverkeeper: Bilingual signs for Nichols Natural Area
Back Packs 4 Kids: Weekend snacks for Klickitat County kids and farmers market vouchers
Six organizations representing Wasco, Skamania, Klickitat and Hood River Counties and serving youth, people in transition and those experiencing food insecurity received Burchell grants, representing a diverse group of applicants and projects. As always, those applications not funded through the Burchell program were made available to our Donor Advisors and several received funding as a result.


to our 2019 scholarship recipients.  We wish these outstanding students every success in the years ahead.

Hood River Valley High School
•              Laura Douglas Schaefer Memorial Music Scholarship: Atari Gauthier
•              Gorham Babson Family Scholarships: Litsy Quintana Moreles, Esmeralda Bibian Rodriguez, Damary Romero, Yulisa Certitos Leon
•              Leos Scholarships: Esmeralda Bibian Rodriguez, Andrea Quintana Morales, Isabelle Star, Jade Dowdy, Stephen Bustamante, Bryce Salmon, Josie Petersen
•              Jernstedt Scholarship: Daniela Valle
•              Corwin Hardham Memorial Scholarship: Andrea Morales
Goldendale High School
•              Theo Caldwell Memorial Scholarship: Tori Tallman
Challenge Grant Results

Challenge Grant Results

We are thrilled to report that the Challenge Grant for the Hood River County Library has raised $66,000 for the Friends of the Hood River Library Pat Hazlehurst Endowment of the Gorge Community Foundation to provide ongoing operating support for library programs.  The Library operates branches in Cascade Locks and Parkdale in addition to the main library in Hood River.

Thank you to all who participated and to the donors who made this generous matching challenge:

Anonymous (4), Bella Berlly, Ben Sato, Bette Lou and Alan Yenne, Bonnie New, C. and G. Goodwin, Carl Asai, Carol Jurs, Carolyn Bondurant, Cathi Lannon, Cecilia Goodnight, Chris and Julie Smith, Cleo Sterling, Craig Danner, Dave Radcliffe, David and Ila Mae Schneebert, David Griffith, David Henehan, Deana Wagoner, Don and Betty Shalhope, Donald and Regena Rafelson, Elizabeth English, Elizabeth Garber, Fred Duckwall, Gabriele and Kurt Schneider, Gary and Barbara Young, Gil Sharp and Anne Saxby, Glenn Harris, Guy Fenner, James and Karen Sype, Jean Harmon, Jennifer and Brian Hackett, Jennifer Bayer, Jennifer Fowler, Jennifer Ouzounian, Jim Greenleaf, Jody and David Barringer, John and Marianne Durkan, John E. Campbell, Judith Hiatt, Judith Nicol, June and Marvin Knudson, Katherine Schlick Noe, Kathleen McGregor, Kathleen Pickering, Ken and JoAnn Wittenberg, Kenneth and Kathleen Kliewer, Kenneth McCarty, Leighton Hazlehurst, Leonard and Erma Hickman, Linda Gleeson, Lynda Dallman, Mara Lynaugh, Margeret Marshall, Marilyn and Gennaro Avolio, Martin and Elizabeth Lees, Martin Campos-Davis, Marvin and Ruth Turner, Mary King, Maureen Higgins, Peggy and Jim Kelter, Rachel Larive, Rebecca Montgomery, Richard and Pat Schmuck, Rodney and Mary Anne Parrott, Ronald and Nadine Klebba, Ronalie Milne, Ruth Tsu, Scott and Donna Fitch, Seth Bradley, Stanley and Mary Graves, Stanley Sales and Suzanne Giovannoni, Steve and Doris Stevens, Steven Olson, Stuart Watson, The Friends of the Hood River County Library, Tim and Beverly Annala, Tom and Mole Schaefer, Vicki Seymour, William Boyd








Exciting challenge grant for Hood River County Library supporters

Exciting challenge grant for Hood River County Library supporters

A private charitable foundation has made a $250,000 challenge grant to supporters of the Hood River County Library for donations to the Pat Hazlehurst Fund of the Gorge Community Foundation for all contributions made until June 30, 2019 up to $250,000.  This challenge grant Is a unique opportunity to provide ongoing operating support to the Hood River County Library. The Library operates branches in Cascade Locks and Parkdale in addition to the main library in Hood River.  The Friends of the Library provides financial support for annual library programming including Hood River County Reads.

How to participate:  By June 30, 2019, area residents who value the library and its services to Hood River County are encouraged to participate and double the impact of their contribution.  To give by credit card, click the “donate” button and designate your gift to the the Pat Hazlehurst Fund.  Or mail your check, payable to “Pat Hazlehurst Endowment” to the Gorge Community Foundation, PO Box 1711, Hood River, OR 97031; or bring your check to the Hood River Library circulation desk.  Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. 
About Pat Hazlehurst:  Pat Hazlehurst, a retired librarian and enthusiastic supporter of the library brought the concept of distributing a book throughout the community to the Friends of the Library.  She developed the Hood River County Reads program in 2006 and chaired the program until her death in 2010.  Friends and family started and continue to support an endowment fund in her name at the Gorge Community Foundation to provide ongoing operating support for the Hood River County Library and its programs.


Welcome to our new board member Brad Schrick.

Welcome to our new board member Brad Schrick.

GCF is delighted to welcome our newest board member, Brad Schrick, who works as a patent agent at Insitu and brings a passion for community service through his work with organizations including the Gorge Tech Alliance and CASA.

Congratulations to United Way of the Columbia Gorge

Congratulations to United Way of the Columbia Gorge

On their recent campaign to raise funds for their endowment. They met their goal, raising over $50,000 from friends and supporters throughout the Gorge. UW executive director Jarrod Holmes says “Our endowment at the Gorge Community Foundation provides critical support. Our donors know that by giving to the endowment, they’re supporting United Way now and into the future.”

2018 Granting Making Tops $87,000

The Gorge Community Foundation is proud to announce that grants totaling over $87,000 have been made to regional non-profit organizations since January 2018.  This is a record high for GCF grantmaking and demonstrates recent growth in the Foundation’s assets and the generosity of our donors.  The list of grantees includes organizations providing health and human services, arts, youth, and animal welfare and reaches throughout the Columbia River Gorge and into eastern Oregon.