New GCF Community Fund Now Accepting Grant Proposals from Columbia River Gorge Non-Profits


The Gorge Community Foundation is pleased to announce that with the 2022 granting cycle, the Joan Burchell Fund, the Riddell and Athalie Lage Fund and the Kate Leadbetter Mills Fund will be combined into a single program, the GCF Community Grants program, to increase the amount of funding available.  Information about the visionary donors whose legacies comprise these funds is below.

For nearly two decades, the Gorge Community Foundation has made grants through its donor advised funds and grantmaking programs to strengthen the fabric of Gorge communities. In 2022, our Community Grants will continue to support our region with a sharpened focus on the most pressing challenges our region is facing today.  The purpose of the Community Grants program is to provide charitable funds as the Foundation board determines are most needed and not limited to a single focus or exclusively to the interests of a particular constituency.

The total available for 2022 granting through GCF Community Grants is $16,000 and proposals will be accepted for any amount up to that total.  The 2022 Request for Proposal can be found here.   

Applications are due May 27 and funding decisions and grants awarded the end of June.  The range of grants in the past has been $650 to $4,000.  Grant recipients are expected to comply with reporting requirements in order to be eligible for any future grants.

The following projects received funding in 2021:

  • Backpacks for Kids: $2,000 for the purchase of food items
  • FISH Food Bank:  $2,000 for the purchase of personal care items
  • Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue:  $2,000 for support of the spay and neuter program
  • Mid-Columbia Health Foundation:  $2,000 for gas cards for key patient groups
  • First Book Wasco County:  $1,000 for books for low-income kids in No. Wasco School District
  • First Book Hood River County:  $1,000 for books for needs-based kids in Hood River County School District
  • Mt. View Grange:  $500 for purchase of a refrigerator to serve Grange clientele
  • Columbia Arts:  $1,000 for expansion of efforts towards inclusion and diversity
  • Mt. Adams Institute:  $1,000 for support of the Hear in the Gorge podcast
  • Cascade Locks Historical Museum:  $1,500 for relocation expenses

About Joan Burchell

Joan was born in New York City on April 25, 1923, and grew up in Chappaqua, N.Y.  As a young woman, she defied tradition by moving to Venezuela to work as a decorator and furniture designer. She traveled extensively in South and Central America before returning to New York to work for Reader’s Digest until retirement.  Joan was an avid swimmer and kayaker who traveled and camped alone in Europe. 

After retirement, she traveled the country looking for a place to retire. The fact that she chose the community of Mt. Hood in the Columbia River Gorge attests to her good judgment. She lived there for 20 years.  Joan loved the community, and the community loved her. She was self-educated, mechanically clever, and artistic. Her spirit, humor, independence, and interest in all things endeared her to many people. Joan is a true example of living life on one’s own terms.  She passed away peacefully, with friends at her side, on December 14, 2008. 

About Riddell and Athalie Lage

Edward (Riddell) Lage and Athalie Miller were married in the Pine Grove Church in 1935 and raised three children in Hood River.  Riddell, the son of 19th century Oregon pioneers, ran and modernized his family’s farm, Lage Orchards Inc., which earned the Century Farm designation for 100 years of ownership by a single family.  Riddell passed away in 1975, and Athalie was 103 at the time of her passing in 2020.

Both Riddell and Athalie were lifelong residents of Hood River and active in the community through business, youth and social activities.  Their legacy fund commemorates their dedication to their community through service and philanthropy.

About Kate Leadbetter Mills

Kate Mills was a fearless and untiring champion of Oregon’s natural beauty — most especially the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River Valley. Born on Sept. 22, 1932 in Portland and educated at Catlin Gabel School and Stanford University, Kate and her husband Jack raised four sons and moved to the upper Hood River Valley in the mid-’70s, where in addition to family, they added seven horses, a burro, Bantam chickens, Muscovy ducks, barn cats and a dog to their household. Along with her love of animals and the outdoors, Kate relished a soul-stirring play, whether in Hood River, Ashland or Broadway.

Upon moving to the Gorge, Kate became active in her new community, helping found the Columbia Center for the Arts and start recycling programs in Hood River. She was a founding member of the Hood River Valley Residents Committee and Friends of Timberline. She recruited friends, raised money, wrote letters and lobbied to help enact the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Act. She served on boards of the Gorge Community Foundation, Thrive Hood River (formerly the Hood River Valley Residents Committee), the High Desert Museum, Maryhill Museum of Art, and the Hood River Classic Horse Show.

About the Gorge Community Foundation

Founded in 2001, the Gorge Community Foundation’s assets total over $8 million and the Foundation manages nearly 50 designated funds and 30 donor advised funds.  The Foundation made grants of over $400K and scholarships totaling over $200K in 2021.  The Foundation is managed by a 9-member Board of Directors led by board president Gil Sharp that includes representation from Gorge communities on both sides of the river.  More information is available at   

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