Contact: Shawn Uhlman, Prosper Portland, 503-823-7994
Fourteen local businesses representing Portland’s targeted industries – green cities, athletic and outdoor, technology and media, and metals and machinery – will receive grants to support their work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The Inspiring Diversity Grant, now in its second 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 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% of Portland’s population, hold only 12-18% of cluster jobs.
Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam said, “The current health and economic crisis heightens the ongoing importance of our focus on a strong racial equity lens and inclusion in our economic development work across industries. The Inspiring Diversity grants are building a learning community that helps the business recipients and their peer companies become more competitive through diversity and inclusion best practices.”
The agency received more than 40 applications for the grant, which targeted 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, with preference given to companies that could match the requested funds. The selected companies have committed matches totaling $67,700 in cash and in-kind staff time, more than double the grant fund of $63,400.
The matching grants are between $2,000 to $10,000 and support companies that provide high-paying and middle-wage jobs and opportunities for Portlanders, ranging from technology to manufacturing to landscape architecture and engineering.
Recipients and projects:
Carleton Hart Architecture – staff workshops, Fair Housing Council of Oregon bus tour, and use of a platform that helps companies optimize policies that improve social equity and enhance employee engagement.
GladRags – reusable menstrual product company will develop a diversity and equity market assessment and DEI training with other businesses
Glory Facial – personalized skin care company will launch a digital marketing campaign with a Mercatus partner to increase awareness of skin cancer among women of color
GreenWorks – landscape architecture/environmental design firm starting its equity journey, hiring a facilitator to help its newly formed equity committee formalize a plan.
Hopworks Urban Brewery – DEI workshops, enhance on-boarding process to be more inclusive and provide a more comprehensive focus for continuing education and speakers for team and customers.
Intuitive Digital – digital marketing firm will conduct team training, update hiring and interviewing practices to eliminate unconscious bias
Like Dat Apparel – custom printing and promotional product company will conduct community and school outreach to increase student/youth engagement
Opsis Architecture – equity-based staff workshop, design case study and creation of a road map for change
PAE – engineering consultants will conduct internal training on equity and diversity; creation of resource page for the PAE community
Pollinate – digital branding agency will create a network of Portland agencies and technology companies with the goal of sponsoring women, people of color, and other minority groups who have interest in the tech and media industries but lack the financial means to do so.
Portland Fashion Institute – outreach to African American community to build awareness/ acceptance and applications for PFI’s diversity program.
Rose City Games – independent game studio plans online game jam event, sharing the professional aspects of game planning and production with diversity applicants as both parties develop game pitches alongside community members and professional mentors.
Sseko Designs – footwear exporter focused on social impact will establish an equity & inclusion council; create training curriculum; coach and train HQ and top leaders on how they can build more diverse and inclusive cultures.
Treehouse – tech education and apprenticeship organization will launch a monthly event series to discuss topics related to equity, diversity, and inclusion
Quotes from businesses:
Liz Forkin Bohannon, Co-Founder & CEO, Sseko Designs: “We are so thrilled to partner with Prosper Portland to continue to learn how we can build a more equitable and diverse culture within both our headquarters here in Portland and our national sales force. Through audits, trainings and creating and executing on our strategic [DEI] plan, we are looking forward to doing the hard but necessary work to examine our biases and blind spots so that we can create a culture and company that enables all to thrive.”
Seth Francis, (WELL AP, LFA), PAE: “The Inspiring Diversity grant will allow PAE to form a dedicated committee to view all internal and external operations from an equity and diversity lens. We aim to provide valuable resources and trainings for our staff, engage with the community to strengthen our actions and support, and to serve as an example of what is possible when you take responsibility for your role and impact.”