PEER GRANTS2020-08-05T10:30:16-07:00

Pandemic Emergency Economic Relief (PEER)

In the midst of this pandemic many families who were already marginalized and pressured are now facing acute economic and food insecurity.  At the same time, most of us are sheltering in place, isolated, and longing to act.  What if we could GROW connection during this time and ACT together to relieve pressure in our communities?

In order to reflect dignity and relieve pressure, the Oregon Synod (ELCA) and the NW Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) are partnering to encourage local congregations to join with one another and community-based organizations, like schools and social organizations, to offer grocery gift cards and other food or financial assistance to families most impacted during these times.  Congregations raise funds and the local community organization who has direct relationship with the families works to get the assistance to where it is needed most. So far:

The United Methodist Church has committed $100,000 in matching grants to local congregations.

The Oregon Synod has received a $20,000 grant from the ELCA to offer matching grants, so partnering with our local ecumenical friends can double our gifts!

The Presbytery of the Cascades (PCUSA) will also be offering $100,000 in grants to local congregations.

Apply for an Oregon Synod PEER grant!

THREE WAYS for your congregation to join in!

  1.  CONNECT:

    • Connect with your local UMC or Presbyterian congregation (or other ecumenical or interfaith congregation) and see if they are interested in partnering with you to engage your local school or community-based organization to raise funds to provide grocery gift cards or other financial support to families most impacted.

    • Connect with your local school (principals can be a great starting point if you don’t already have a relationship) or community-based organization and see if they are interested in partnering around this action.  They do the legwork of getting the grocery gift cards where they need to go, so they need to be on board!


    • Matching Grants: If you partner with a UMC congregation, they can apply for grants through their District and these can be matching funds for both congregations. Reach out to Presbyterian congregations and see if they would like to join you. ELCA congregations can apply to the Synod for $500 matching grants and inspire your congregation to double their impact! There are also $500 Daily Bread grants available to congregations directly.

    • Congregations: Build a small team and invite your members to join in this action and give generously in addition to their regular giving through your church to impact local families. Take it one month at a time and see how energy builds!


    • Buy grocery gift cards and deliver them to the principal or point person from the school/organization who can get them to families, or develop a plan about how assistance will get to the partner organization for distribution.

    • Share back monthly with the Oregon Synod monthly the good news of your action — Who are you partnering with?  How much was raised in grants and congregational gifts?  How many families impacted?

    • Follow-up and evaluate with the school or community-based organization and ask: How can we better partner with you? What are families experiencing and is this what is needed or could our action be more impactful?

Why Grocery Gift Cards? 

Grocery gift cards are a suggestion that our UMC friends have found works well.  They offer dignity to families as they get to purchase food they need, including culturally specific food. Also, some people do not have the ability to stand in line at local food pantries because they are immuno-compromised, are essential workers, or are vulnerable for other reasons.  Grocery gift cards are a suggestion that our UMC friends have found works well. You may discover a different need when you contact your local school or community organization. Respond to what is needed! Consider $50-$100 cards.

Why Schools?

Many congregations already have relationships with schools — so there is a natural partnership there. Also, schools have connections with families and know the needs of their students and families, so we know resources will get where they are needed. Also, school not being in session physically has put heightened pressure on families during these times with the loss of support, childcare, and food offered to families. There may be other community-based organizations that you can partner with.

Pandemic Response Stories

The Pastors at St. Matthew in Beaverton asked congregants (and anyone else who might be watching our worship and daily prayer on Facebook and YouTube) to please consider donating towards grocery cards for folks in need in the community in the midst of COVID-19. We directed folks to our online giving platform which we link in our worship videos and is easily accessed on our website. There they could pick the “pastors fund” option for their donation, and all donations going to that fund in the three week period would go towards the grocery cards. Folks could also mail in checks and designate them to the pastor’s fund in the memo line. We had an overwhelmingly generous response to this call to action – in three short weeks we raised about $20,000! We are now in contact with two local elementary schools, and are hoping to hear back from two more. Principals, counselors, and teachers are gathering names of families in need, and are helping us to distribute these cards to those families. We have also connected with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department to get some of these cards to officers, as they often encounter individuals and families in need in their line of duty. We are so amazed at the generosity of the community! – Pastor Jessica Putnam, St. Matthew, Beaverton

Hillsboro City Councilor Olivia Alcaire and Gracie Garcia from Bienestar Oregon, a local non-profit organization providing affordable housing to immigrant families, reached out to our Tuesday Morning Hillsboro Clergy Coffee Group (affectionately referred to as the Caffeinated Pastor Group) and asked to join our (now Zoom) Tuesday meeting. In that conversation we learned more about how the immigrant population has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic with some of the greatest barriers to accessing services and benefits. Within a few days we had put together a two-pronged approach. All Saints Episcopal Church contacted Community Hands Up, who in turn contacted the Oregon Food bank, and received 3000 pounds of food. Volunteers from All Saints and Community Hands Up sorted and bagged the food. Volunteers from Community of ChristChurch joined the others at apartment complexes owned by Bienestar and the food was quickly distributed. This will be an ongoing effort every Monday until the initial donation of food has been exhausted. In the meantime, Community of ChristChurch has responded by setting up a $10,000 matching fund for Bienestar’s Esperanza fund. Through social media, community members have been invited to join congregation members in donating to the fund. We are continuing to find other ways to collaborate and share resources during this critical time. – Pastor David Eppelsheimer, Christ Church, Hillsboro

Nativity discovered a tremendous need in our local community among families living on the margins who have lost their income due to the COVID Emergency.  We are partnering with the FAN (Family Access Network) worker who serves our local elementary school and middle school and at their strong recommendation, have begun paying utility bills for families they know are in crisis.  Members of Nativity have been invited to send funds to Nativity’s “outreach” fund, and many have indicated that they will be sending the economic stimulus checks they are receiving to fund our mission. In our first week of operation we have raised over $2000 and paid the utility bills for seven local families. Yesterday we discovered that one family had suddenly taken over care for a toddler, whom they had received with no clothes.  We made a call and one of our families quickly clothed the naked little boy, clothing Christ himself. – Pastor, Chris Kramer, Nativity, Bend