Fifteen local businesses representing Portland’s priority industry clusters – green cities, athletic and outdoor/consumer products, technology and media, manufacturing, and food and beverage – will receive grants to support their work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The Inspiring Diversity Grant, now in its fifth year, is a Prosper Portland program 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 traded sector companies become more inclusive, recognizing that the fundamental equity challenge in Portland’s traded sectors is lack of access to good jobs. The city’s priority industry clusters pay wages well above the average for the City of Portland and are among the best employment opportunities in the region.
Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam said, “Our goal to increase racial equity in entrepreneurship and traded sector employment aligns well with the Inspiring Diversity grant. We are building a learning community that helps the business recipients and their peer companies become more competitive through diversity and inclusion best practices.”
Grant recipient Yvonne Perez Emerson, founder at Make & Mary, said, “I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the Inspiring Diversity Grant. It has been a struggle for us this last year and this grant has given us an opportunity to continue our work within the community. The funds are helping us to host a day of self-care for women of color who also need support. Without this grant we would not be able to do so. So much gratitude for Prosper Portland and this program!”
The agency received 50 applications for the grant, which prioritizes traded sector 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 and previous awardees. The selected companies have committed matches totaling $65,000 in cash and in-kind staff time, almost half the grant fund of $144,500.
The grants are between $4,500 and $10,000 and support companies that provide high-paying and middle-wage jobs and opportunities for Portlanders, ranging from technology, manufacturing, architecture and engineering to consumer products.
Recipients and projects:
Community Energy Labs (Green Cities) – Formalizing a summer internship/apprenticeship program for diverse talent.
Field Day (Technology/Media)- Implementing DEI learning and development for employees through bi-monthly speaker series.
HAB Sauce (Food & Beverage) – Working with diverse, local artists to create new labels and hosting a gallery event.
Odd Notion (Technology/Media) – Donating web and branding services to six Black and Brown founders.
Make & Mary*(Consumer Products) – Women of color community event
MENTORSCHIP, INC. (Technology/Media) – Scholarships for underserved students.
Mother Tree International – Train and ensure credentialing and certification requirements for four culturally concordant birth doulas in underrepresented communities.
Okapi Reusables, LLC (Green Cities/Consumer Products) – Internship to BIPOC student, plus more support for BIPOC-owned cafes.
OpConnect (Green Cities) – Training and talent pipeline development in collaboration with dream.org
OpenSesame* (Technology/Media) – Speakers and events organized via employee resource groups.
Perennial Strategy* – Provide core strategic communications support to six Bridges Accelerator (a Built Oregon program) companies.
Photon Marine (Manufacturing) – Hiring four summer interns who are BIPOC, women, or veterans.
Portland Garment Factory (Manufacturing/Consumer Products) – Hosting workshop for small apparel designers to participate in Emerging Entrepreneurs program.
Sibeiho (Food and Beverage) – Creating connections between local BIPOC farmers and restaurants.
Trillium/Optibus (Green Cities/Technology) – Development of a comprehensive diversity hiring plan.