Contact: Shawn Uhlman, Prosper Portland, 503-823-7994

Eleven local businesses representing Portland’s targeted industries – green cities, athletic and outdoor, technology and media, and metals and machinery,  as well as consumer goods and non-profit organizations – will receive grants to support their work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Ten of the recipient businesses are either BIPOC- or women-owned, and the selected companies represent more than 550 employees in Portland.

Prosper Portland’s Inspiring Diversity Grant, now in its fourth year, is intended to encourage private employers to incorporate creative, equity-related best practices around workforce, marketing and communications.

Prosper Portland’s business and industry strategy is focused on helping leading companies in the city’s targeted industries become more inclusive, recognizing that the fundamental equity challenge for these companies is improving access to good jobs. The city’s four targeted industry clusters pay wages well above the average for the City of Portland and are among the best employment opportunities in the region. Yet people of color, who represent 30 percent of Portland’s population, hold only 12-18 percent of cluster jobs.

Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam said, “Our efforts to support local businesses, both large and small, focus on the importance of inclusion and a strong racial equity lens. The Inspiring Diversity grants build a learning community that helps the recipients and their peer companies become more competitive by incorporating diversity and inclusion best practices.”

The agency received more than 60 applications for the grant, which prioritizes companies that sell many of their products and services to people and businesses outside the Portland region, nationally and globally.

Selection of the recipients prioritized growth potential, leadership commitment and interest in peer learning, as well as innovation, community engagement and impact on underserved communities. The selection committee included Prosper Portland staff, previous awardees and a facilitator. The selected companies have committed matches totaling $251,000 in cash and in-kind staff time, twice the grant fund of $120,000.

The grants range from $2,500 to $10,000 and support companies that provide high-paying and middle-wage jobs and opportunities for Portlanders, representing technology, manufacturing, architecture and engineering and consumer products. Average grant size was $8400. In addition, De La Salle High School, will partner with local businesses to provide internship opportunities for underrepresented youth.

David Fee of Castelli/Sportful, a past recipient of the grant, said, “The IDG program made it possible for us to increase the diversity within our team and have a greater impact on our community. Without the funds and support of the program, we could not have achieved the goals that our Diversity, Inclusion & Community Committee set for this year.”

Recipients and projects:

Good Rain Farm – woman- and Indigenous-owned organization led by and in service to Native people will develop a diversity, equity and inclusion training program and ongoing education framework for new hires.

HiFi Sound Cycling Components, a manufacturer of wheels and accessories for performance bikes will increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in Portland cycling by increasing its bike library with a focus on small frames, hosting a speaker series about the history of racism in cycling and offering size-inclusive cycling clothing.

Salt & Straw – Creator of craft ice cream will partner with the Oregon Justice Resource Center to create a 12-week apprenticeship program for women currently incarcerated.

Willamette Technical Fabricators – a certified DBE/WBE/MBE fabricated structural metal manufacturing company focused on transportation and clean energy infrastructure, will create an On-The-Job apprenticeship program for 10 BIPOC candidates.

Make & Mary – a family- and Latina-owned and -operated business that manufactures and sells consumer products will create a new marketing and imagery campaign to better reflect its BIPOC brand.

Open Sesame – eLearning tech company will provide training for the leaders and future leaders of their seven internal employee resource groups (ERG).

Volt E-Mobility – The Portland-based ebike and microEV company will establish a diversity interview and hiring program to use as it ramps up local employment.

Perennial Strategy – a woman-owned social impact strategy firm which advises purpose-led businesses will integrate DEI into its services to center BIPOC voices.

Recode – Using the lived experience of impacted people, Recode works with regulators, utilities, technical experts, community leaders, legislators, and others to develop, promote, and get governance adopted. Recode collaborates to create codes, laws and policies that increase access to sustainable water, sanitation and nutrient recovery systems.

Zapproved – Zapproved, founded by a woman of color, will provide equity and Inclusion management training to its leadership team.

De La Salle Corporate Work Study Program – will partner with four Portland traded-sector businesses to provide internship opportunities.