KindTree Receives Grants from Wells Fargo Bank and Spirit Mountain Community Fund

March 15, 2013
UO class chooses Eugene autism group for $5,000 Wells Fargo grant

EUGENE, Ore. – A new program will help autistic Lane County residents lead a better life, thanks to a collaborative effort between the University of Oregon, Wells Fargo and the nonprofit KindTree – Autism Rocks of Eugene.

As part of their studies, the 23 students in UO’s “American Philanthropy” freshman seminar conducted research about local nonprofit groups. After reviewing a number of possibilities, the students split into teams and made site visits to five agencies. After more discussion over a 10-week period, the students voted to allocate a $5,000 grant from Wells Fargo to KindTree in Eugene.


Tim Mueller receives the giant check and treasure chest from Kyle of Wells Fargo Bank, with the U of O winning team. Thanks so much!

The students met March 13 on campus with Tim Mueller, KindTree’s secretary/treasurer, and Wells Fargo officers Kyle Banks and Derek Nickelson of Eugene to announce and celebrate their decision.

KindTree plans to use the funds to start the Skills Training for an Independent Living Experience (STiLE) program this year. It will help people with autism develop basic life skills, and enhance their quality of life through jewelry making, painting and other recreational activities, Mueller told the students.

“Your money is going to make a big difference,” said Mueller, who started KindTree in 1997 with two other people. “It’s because of you all. So thank you for your votes and the work your team did. What a terrific idea.”

People with autism feel like they don’t fit into society and feel all alone, he added. KindTree lets them know they are not alone and that they have support.

“We want to thank Wells Fargo once again for funding the class again for the 11th year,” said Paul Elstone, class instructor. “We really couldn’t do this class without Wells Fargo: $55,000; 250 students; 15 nonprofits supported in the community. It’s been a great partnership.”

Elstone, who has taught the class for eight years, congratulated the students for the work they did in selecting KindTree for the grant.

“You did a great job taking this very seriously. This was probably the strongest class in terms of all five presentations,” he said. “I hope this will be the beginning of you doing more work and learning more about what goes on in the nonprofit sector.”

Student Korey Roche led the team that researched KindTree. He praised the class for empowering freshman students.

“This is a great, great thing to give to a student coming right into college. This gives them immediately the chance to have an effect. That’s really great,” he said.

Picking KindTree was not a hard decision, he added. “I think they can really make a difference in the autism community,” Roche said.

Banks, a district manager for Wells Fargo in Eugene, congratulated the class for its work. He explained why Wells Fargo agreed to partner with the university in this effort.

“The connection to your Philanthropy Seminar isn’t coincidental,” Banks said. “At Wells Fargo, we know in order to be a successful bank, we have to be in a thriving community. So giving back to our community has been central to Wells Fargo during the past 16 decades. We’re proud to be a part of this class and to see how you are giving back to Lane County.”

About KindTree
KindTree - Autism Rocks  is dedicated to serving and celebrating people on the autism spectrum through art, recreation and community. Community members volunteered hundreds of hours to help with its programs and events. Area businesses and individuals are generous in their support through donations of food, equipment, scholarships, and more. More information:

About Wells Fargo
Serving Oregonians since 1852, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) was named the most generous bank in Oregon and in the nation in 2012. The nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores; 12,000 ATMs; and the Internet (



Spirit Mountain



Sprit Mountain Community Fund awards $4,000 to support KindTree - Autism Rocks' new STiLE Program.

On March 15, 2013, Molly Elliott, KindTree Vice-president and STiLE Program coordinator, and Mary-Minn Sirag, President, received with gratitude a $4,000 check from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund to support the launching of KindTree's STiLE Program.

This new program will provide life skill enhancing trainings and activites to build life skills, confidence and happiness amoung people with autism and other disabilities. Plans include social skill develpment, growing food, making art, and other skill building activites. Read more here...

About Spirit Mountain Community Fund: The Spirit Mountain Community Fund has helped 807 non-profits in Oregon since 1997. We have been delighted to partner with organizations committed to social justice, community resilience and self-sufficiency.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde are committed to honoring our tribal traditions of sharing and giving back to the community.


The Tribes of the Grand Ronde Confederation are Chasta, Rogue River, Umpqua, Molalla and Kalapuya. Our Tribe’s legal status was terminated in 1954. After many years of campaigning and dedicated action our Tribe was Federally recognized in 1983.

Buffeted by the events of our history after contact with white European and American settlers, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde have long been mired in a cycle of poverty and related problems. But our own problems have not overshadowed our awareness of the needs of others. We see ourselves as part of the solution for our local communities who are facing challenges. The formation of Spirit Mountain Community Fund is a formalization of that long time tradition.

We give back to our community through three streams. We support other recognized tribes through the Oregon Tribal Fund. We support individual Native leaders through the Hatfield Fellowship. And we support non-profit organizations in an 11-county area of Western Oregon.

Former Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy reminds us that “Nation building is hard work that requires dedication, commitment, planning and vision.” These words encapsulate how Grand Ronde has evolved as a Tribe, a community partner and how we embrace change.

We see these counties as our neighbors and friends. Some of you helped us during restoration to rebuild our community and we want to give back. We want to return the support and encouragement to reach goals of self-sufficiency that we found so valuable. By enriching the lives of those in our neighborhood we all benefit.




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