Small Grants Program

New grants projects connect underserved communities with local parks and programs

Portland Parks Foundation is pleased to announce the new grantees from our Small Grants Program, which provides capacity building support for organizations whose work aligns with PPF’s mission to ensure a thriving and accessible parks system for a healthy Portland. “We are excited to work with our new grantees, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)  and Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors (ECO). These projects directly address PPF’s priority for supporting underserved communities that have barriers to accessing the benefits of local parks and programs,” said Jessica Green, PPF’s Operations Officer.

IRCO’s Slavic Youth and Families Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Community School Program at Gilbert Park Elementary.

IRCO’s Slavic Youth and Families Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Community School Program at Gilbert Park Elementary.

IRCO is nationally and locally recognized as a culturally and linguistically specific community-based organization with a deep understanding of the diverse communities residing in Oregon. Their proposed project supports Portland’s Slavic Community, Oregon’s largest refugee-based community, which includes diverse ethnicities such as Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Czech. “After experiencing religious and political persecution, conflict, and corruption, Slavs are often isolated and reticent to mainstream systems. Almost one in three Slavic children live in poverty, twice the rate of White children. One in five Slavs speak English less than well. These disparities represent significant obstacles for Slavic families seeking resources through PP&R,” IRCO wrote. Through this project, IRCO will provide opportunities to engage Slavic community members with Portland parks spaces and programs through information sharing and events. IRCO hopes to not only increase Slavs’ access to parks, but also help “provide the sense of belonging that Portland’s public spaces, and by extension the city itself, is ‘for them.’”

Students participating in an ECO program at Kingsley D. Bundy Park in SE Portland.

Students participating in an ECO program at Kingsley D. Bundy Park in SE Portland.

With a mission to reconnect kids with nature, ECO shared that their work “is rooted in the understanding that when kids enjoy and understand the natural world, they grow into adults who take value and take care of it.” Eighty percent of the students ECO serves qualify for free or reduced lunch and 63% identify as minority. City parks that ECO students engage with include Powell Butte Natural Area, Springwater Corridor, and Kingsley D. Bundy Park. The proposed project is to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training for ECO’s staff and board, with the goal of increasing capacity for the organization to deliver equitable and culturally responsive ecology programs. With increased capacity, ECO sees the impact of this program as helping to build “a more inclusive and diverse next generation of Portland residents who value and support access to thriving parks and natural areas.”

Congratulations to IRCO and ECO!

If you’re with a public park friends group or another community partner, be sure to keep in touch with the PPF throughout the year. You can learn more about our Small Grants Program here. Our next round of applications will be open beginning March 1, with a deadline of March 30, 2019. In addition to small grants, we also offer seasonal technical assistance workshops. Past programs have focused on fundraising strategies, equity and inclusion, grant writing, and building your board.