The Roundhouse Foundation Story

What started in 2002 as a collaboration between Founder and Trustee, Kathy Deggendorfer, and her mother, Gert Boyle, has grown into a dynamic and unique private family foundation.

The Roundhouse Foundation is dedicated to supporting programs that inspire creativity, connect people with each other and their sense of place, and ensure sustainability for the long-term economic success of Oregon’s rural communities.

“I live and work in Sisters, Oregon and Mom was a frequent visitor,” says Founder Kathy Deggendorfer. “We love rural Oregon, its scenic beauty, and the creative community of artists who live throughout our regions.” 

The Roundhouse Foundation was discussed and founded with the support of Deggendorfer’s mother, Gert Boyle, the matriarch of Columbia Sportswear.  Gert was no stranger to challenges as she immigrated from Nazi Germany in 1937, took over Columbia Hat Company with her husband Neal, and then quickly had to transition the family business after Neal’s sudden death in 1970.  Gert recognized the need for hard work and collaboration to ensure the family business and the greater community was successful.

“One of Mom’s famous ‘Gertisms’ was, ‘It is better to give with a warm hand than a cold one,’” Deggendorfer remembers.

In that spirit, Gert funded and the family Trustees direct The Roundhouse Foundation. The Foundation’s original desire was to focus on supporting ideas and projects that create positive change.  Roundhouse was interested in projects that work with and through the arts, celebrate creative problem solving, and showcase creative people as positive mentors for children and important forces in creating new economies. 

By 2014, Kathy invited family members Erin Borla and Frank Deggendorfer to join the Trustees and big things continued to happen.

Over the past several years the mission of the Foundation has morphed into celebrating not only the arts, but all creative problem solving throughout Oregon’s rural communities Tribal Nations.  Roundhouse has worked to establish four dynamic program areas of support: arts and culture, environmental stewardship, education, and social services. The Trustees often find their work most effective at the intersections of these program areas.

In 2017, the Roundhouse Foundation purchased Pine Meadow Ranch in Sisters to fulfill  Deggendorfer’s long-term vision of creating a space for artists, conservationists, farmers, ranchers, educators and scientists to come together to share space and ideas while working in an inspirational setting. The Ranch serves as a model for interconnected work and the basis for collaborative economies.

Now, almost 20 years later, the Roundhouse Foundation owns and operates the Ranch as an example of the work we hope to support through its grantmaking and investing.  The Foundation has distributed over $5 million to hundreds of organizations that are paving the way for creative problem-solving in rural communities.

The Foundation’s current grant application process is designed to be simple and straightforward.  The Roundhouse team prides itself on collaborative and trust-based philanthropy; our organization seeks to ensure innovative ideas find encouragement and support. When organizations work together in partnership, communities benefit.