MERIT – Micro Enterprise Resources Initiatives & Training works with the low-to-moderate income community in the Marion, Polk, and Yamhill county areas. We do so through business classes, workshops, and our IDA Program. However, in light of current events and the spread of COVID-19, the MERIT team is deciding to take all necessary precautions to do our part to slow the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. 
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested  “crowded travel settings, like airports, may increase risk of exposure to COVID-19” and only the most necessary travel, particularly for those more susceptible to coronavirus, including but not limited to older adults and individuals that have serious chronic medical conditions. As of March 16th, the White House urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants as part of sweeping guidelines meant to combat an expected surge of coronavirus cases. Over the next 15 days, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people, schooling should be at home and discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided. 
The State of Oregon has seen a steady increase and spread of COVID-19; Oregon health officials identified a state total, at the time of writing, to be 39 cases, and one death. There are confirmed cases in each of the counties MERIT serves: Marion, Polk, and Yamhill. 
On March 12th, 2020 - Governor Kate Brown set new rules to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. She issued Executive Order 20-05 which outlines rules addressing large gatherings and social distancing. Gov. Brown also issued guidelines for workplaces, schools, care facilities, and other community-wide mitigation efforts to help protect vulnerable and high-risk Oregonians, and to protect our state’s health care system capacity. K-12 schools have also been suspended for the for two weeks per Gov. Brown’s orders. Similarly, universities across the country and the Sate of Oregon have postponed classes pending more information of the spread of COVID-19 
Given the developing situations of our neighboring states, the increasing spread of COVID-19 in our surrounding counties, and our belief that similar restrictions will soon go into place in Oregon, MERIT, in accordance with Gov. Brown’s Executive Order and guidelines, will take every precaution necessary including those of the Federal Government and its agencies. 
The clients the MERIT serves are, by definition, low-to-moderate income; a large portion of our clients work within the service industry, including food services. Many of them are between the ages of 30 – 50, with most having younger children. They often travel from all three counties served by the organization to participate in our workshops or take advantage of our services. These restrictions and precautions, while necessary, present a significant challenge to that demographic. With limited childcare, unnecessary travel and close-proximity interactions with other, and likely unforeseen expenses and anxieties due to this pandemic, we do not feel it would be prudent to hold our scheduled classes and workshops for March and April. Instead, MERIT believes it best to postpone these classes, workshops and our public services until further notice pending more information on the spread of COVID-19.  
In doing our part and in an attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus, we are exploring the likely option of the MERIT staff working from home. We see this as an opportunity to revamp and refine our current curriculum. With all staff taking a piece of the curriculum, combing through it, adding new content, or removing outdated material, as well as continually cross-checking the work of our colleagues, we are confident that we will be able to have newly prepared class curriculum soon. 
We would like to extend our thanks to our funders, our board, and our community for their understanding and flexibility during this time. As more information is made available, we will reevaluate MERIT’s position, and maintain our partners and clients informed as we move forward.  


The MERIT Team 

Administrative Volunteer 

MERIT is looking for an administrative volunteer! This volunteer will be asked to assist with filing, scanning, collating, organizing class materials/curriculum, organizing receipts for bookkeeping staff and compiling marketing materials for events. If you are interested in this volunteer opportunity, please fill out our Volunteer Application.

Class Host Volunteer 

MERIT is looking for a volunteer to host classes! This volunteer will be asked to assist with setting up the classroom for the facilitator as well as create a welcoming, safe and encouraging environment for MERIT clients. The class host may be asked to distribute curriculum, obtain drinks/snacks and take attendance. If you are interested in this volunteer opportunity, please fill out our Volunteer Application. 

© 2011-2019 MERIT (MicroEnterprise Resources Initiatives and Training NW), All rights reserved. MERIT is a 501(c)(3)

Our Mission

MERIT serves an emerging diverse business community in Oregon, providing expert entrepreneurial and financial management training and technical assistance, including family oriented finance management, financial literacy, entrepreneurial skills, to build generational wealth and self advocacy, fostering inclusiveness in building an environment of equitable prosperity.

Our Vision

We envision MERIT will be the premier organization that serves a culturally, diverse economy by enabling the creation, expansion, and retention of community businesses that will increase generational wealth of families by advancing their prosperity, promoting their cultivation of transferable assets which will empower our clients to independently and fully engage in all levels of government, business and civic life.

Contact or Visit Us!
Phone: (503) 584-7314

Salem Address:

2640 Portland Rd NE 

Salem, OR 97301


Monday - Friday 

9AM - 5PM

Mailing Address:
PO Box 626
Salem, OR 97308

Get involved! Fill out our Volunteer Application


What we do is possible because of an outpouring of generous support from people like you.

We believe that all people have the ability to create their own prosperity. Merit is building thriving, inclusive communities through education, self-empowerment, and empathy.

Who We Are

MERIT is a non-profit located in the Mid-Willamette Valley of Oregon. We eradicate poverty by empowering economically, socially and physically challenged individuals to increase self-sufficiency and build personal and business assets. Our mission is to help people explore, launch and grow successful small businesses through training, support, financial education, access to capital, and more.


We have been developing neighborhood businesses since 2008 in Salem and the surrounding rural communities in the Mid-Willamette Valley. MERIT is continually growing and making big impacts in our community. We take pride in our history and are excited for the future. Our mission, vision, and values drive our dedicated staff and board to continue to serve our community with excellence. We appreciate our community partners and funders as we recognize that our impact would not be realized without their support. MERIT is here for the Mid-Willamette Valley and its communities.

Vision Business Services is a program designed by MERIT and funded by The Ford Family Foundation to provide business services to English-Spanish bilingual entrepreneurs within rural communities in Oregon. The program is a hybrid workforce development as well as an economic development program filling the gap for business services for low-moderate income entrepreneurs.

Volunteer Opportunities