By Vanessa Miali | CNA Media Team
Since its inception in 1983, the nonprofit organization Black United Fund of Oregon (BUF) has been pursuing its mission “to assist in the social and economic development of Oregon’s low-income communities and to contribute to a broader understanding of ethnic and culturally diverse groups.”
Headquartered at 2828 N.E. Alberta St. and founded by local leaders in north and northeast Portland, BUF has responded to the decades of underfunded programs within the African American community.
It has created its own philanthropic programs and partnerships to channel charitable funds to underserved areas.
A recent report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found that the population of Oregon is 23 percent people of color. However, the largest charitable organization in the state gave only 3.6 percent of its grant dollars to nonprofits that empower L communities of color and other marginalized groups.
For 28 years BUF has been establishing an educational support system and pathway for at-risk and disadvantaged high school students in Oregon to receive academic scholarships and attend college.
Promoting educational opportunities such as mentoring, coaching and workshops on writing are at the core of its scholarship programs. From academic tutoring, career exploration, counseling and guidance throughout the college admission and attendance process, students gain a wealth of knowledge and individual support to help turn their college dreams into reality.
In May, BUF hosted its yearly scholarship awards luncheon, at which 24 students of color were awarded scholarships totaling $332,000 for attendance at universities locally and nationally.
BUF has established itself as one of Oregon’s leading social entrepreneurial programs to increase educational access, encourage small business development, enhance financial literacy among women and foster philanthropy within the black community.
BUF executive director LM Alaiyo Foster, Ed.D., was born and raised in Portland, received her bachelor’s degree from Portland State University and her doctorate from Lewis & Clark College.
A BUF volunteer from the age of 10, Alaiyo logged more than 1,000 hours by the time she turned 18. She believes that, through philanthropic alignment, the nonprofit can grow exponentially.
“I love what this organization stands for and the commitment from our fourperson staff and over 700 volunteers,” she explained.
“The work we do is so important and I am excited about its growth and continuation of this amazing legacy.”
Stay tuned at BUFOR.org for fundraising events, continued scholarships and expansion of the headquarters. Call 503.282.7973 for information on volunteering and details on scholarships.
Vanessa Miali has lived in Concordia for 18 years. She is a former public relations professional with two kids who cooks every day and gardens occasionally