Let's be clear...

We’ve done our best to compile some of our most frequently-asked questions and set them in one place for you.  Don’t see your question here? Contact us using the form below and we’ll do our best to clarify!
What is a “Lightning Rod?”

Years ago a donor/friend coined the phrase “Lightning Rod” after seeing the energy, vim and vigor with which SLF’s field staff engages his/her work.   A Lightning Rod is an employee at SLF whose job it is to improve relationship and positive investment in each of the six Salem-Keizer high-school feeder area (Keystone Areas):  North, South, West, McKay/East, McNary/Keizer and Sprague/Southwest. Lightning Rods connect churches, schools, businesses, non-profits, individuals, and neighborhoods with people in similar or different social circles.

What does SLF actually do?
Salem Leadership Foundation (SLF) is unique in the mid-Willamette Valley.  Founded in 1996, SLF is a faith-based community development organization that serves at-risk kids, families and neighborhoods. Despite our name, we are not a grant-making foundation nor a pass-through entity.  SLF is highly regarded by elected officials and community leaders from all sectors including government, schools, law enforcement, the courts, businesses, neighborhood associations, and non-profits.  SLF does not have client-serving programs of our own—rather, we help start (or enlarge) the good work of other organizations and collaboratives.

Our specialty is working with the Faith Community so that it deploys its assets (people, buildings, money) into the health and well-being of kids, families and neighborhoods – especially those most in need.  We’re best known for our collaborative role in: 1) church-school partnerships, 2) neighborhood revitalization, 3) Churches as Neighborhood (CaN) Centers Program, 4) support for homeless and recovery programs, 5) foster care partnerships, 6) after-school, literacy and mentoring, and 7) the Community Partnership Teams (CPTs) and neighborhood associations.

Why do you use the word “Fancy” for a lot of things?
Back in the late 1990s, the original editions of the SLF newlsetter were dubbed ‘fancy’ as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that the newsletter was not very fancy at all.  It was one-page, double-sided, with no graphics.  Readers appreciated its simplicity in a world of complicated and overwhelming communication.  We’ve added a graphic or two, but the template remains the same.  In similar fashion, when SLF started doing an annual event, it was lean, mean and simple.  Not fancy at all.  The name “Fancy Dessert” stuck, and has grown to be one of the more-anticipated story-telling and inspirational events … unlike the newsletter, the event has become a little more fancy and orchestrated over the years.  In fact, it’s now a lunch and a dessert on the same day — Fancy Friday!
How are we funded?
SLF has an annual budget of about $700,000.  Most of SLF’s funding (75%) comes in the form of donations from individuals, families and small local businesses.  Roughly 20% comes from grants, event sponsors, and contracts, and 5% is other (interest, matching programs, etc.)
What are the organization's long-term goals?
We hope to one day have a Lightning Rod at every middle school in the Salem-Keizer School District!  This way, the relational work we do can be even more focused and personal.  (We currently have a Lightning Rod in 4 of the 6 high school feeder areas!)
How can I get involved / partner with SLF?
There are lots of ways!

  • Contact us through this website
  • Call the office at 503-315-8924 or email office@salemLF.org
  • Attend one of our several monthly meetings (CaN or CPT), or quarterly events
  • Follow or message us on our Facebook page
  • Sign up to volunteer in your area
  • Click on the Donate now button to support us financially

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