A ten-year, $10 million poverty-fighting initiative launched by the Northwest Area Foundation in central Oregon in 2003 must soon decide whether to wrap up its work or raise funds from other sources, the Associated Press reports.
The results of the Partnership to End Poverty, formerly known as the Central Oregon Partnership, have been mixed, program participants told the AP.
Initially, the partnership established "community action teams" in communities across the region comprised of residents who reviewed proposals and re-granted NWAF-supplied funds totaling roughly $1 million a year. Soon, however, the effort was criticized for supporting projects that seemed indirectly related to poverty and, after charges of mismanagement, the Department of Justice was forced to get involved. Over the past decade, the partnership has had at least five executive directors.
The foundation eventually recalibrated its involvement in the partnership, shifting power away from the community-based teams to a regional office. Despite these and other challenges, the partnership says it has helped launch or advance a couple of dozen successful projects in the region.
Although it remains to be seen whether or not the initiative will achieve all its intended outcomes, a spokesperson for the foundation did say there is now more awareness of, collaboration around, and services and programs focused on poverty-related issues in the region. "We didn't end poverty," said Scott Cooper, who stepped down as executive director of the partnership in September. "What we did do was create infrastructure in the region over the last ten years for people to be better able to pull themselves up."