By Stacy Lorette MSW, OCF Volunteer
Living in America, most of us were raised to believe in the “American Dream”. We believe that America is a country where every individual has opportunities: to work, to support a family, to learn, to raise healthy children, to pursue personal goals, and to be a contributing member of society. Currently in Oregon the economy looks good for many of us: the unemployment rate is down and many incomes are on the increase. This however, is not the case for many of Oregon’s children.
Currently, half of Oregon’s children are born into low income families and a majority of these children (64%) will likely remain in poverty throughout their lives. Oregon Community Foundation’s (OCF) 2017 report “Toward a Thriving Future, Closing the Opportunity Gap” documents the toxic effects of poverty and the opportunity gap faced by low-income children, children of color and rural children in our state.
Tillamook ranks 25th out of 36 Oregon counties for median income, making Tillamook one of the poorest counties in the state. 78% of families living in Tillamook County live paycheck to paycheck, and 40% of adults claim they cannot afford a $400 emergency. 58% of students in Tillamook county are eligible for free or reduced lunch, based on their family income.
In an effort to close the opportunity gap for Oregon’s Children, OCF is sponsoring the “Go Kids” (Giving Opportunities to Kids) Project. In addition to raising awareness, the project’s goals are to engage local communities in identifying innovative local solutions and motivate action toward bridging the gap; particularly related to arts and education. To support these goals OCF intends to invest 3 million dollars in the initiative by the year 2022. There are currently small grant opportunities available in Tillamook County, as well as larger grant opportunities coming available this summer.
Having lived and worked with children and families who are experiencing poverty in Tillamook county for the past 25 years, I see the impact of the opportunity gap on children and its generational effect on families who live in Tillamook County every day. These experiences have led me to GO kids, in an effort to create opportunities that make a difference for children and families.
I am very interested in hearing from you if you have input, suggestions, or ideas about what we can do in Tillamook to close local opportunity gaps faced in arts and education or if you have ideas for small grant opportunities. I can be reached at the CARE Office (503) 842-5261 during business hours or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of Oregon’s children deserve a chance to succeed in life; regardless of their economic status, race, neighborhood, or other birth circumstance. Since 1973 OCF has been committed to improving the lives of Oregonians through philanthropy. OCF distributes more than $100 million in donated dollars on an annual basis. More information about the GO Kids initiative is available on OCF’s website at www.oregoncf.org/go-kids.