Thirteen local businesses representing Portland’s targeted industries – green citiesathletic and outdoortechnology and media, and metals and machinery,  as well as consumer goods – will receive grants to support their work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The Inspiring Diversity Grant, now in its third 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 percent of Portland’s population, hold only 12-18 percent of cluster jobs.

Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam said, “Our efforts to stabilize and support local businesses focus on the importance of inclusion and a strong racial equity lens in 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 80 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, previous awardees and a facilitator. The selected companies have committed matches totaling $58,700 in cash and in-kind staff time, more than half the grant fund of $112,500.

The grants are between $4,000 to $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:

Castelli Sportful – Maker of cycling apparel and accessories will provide De LaSalle North High School students with job opportunities

Community Co-Pack – Low-barrier contract manufacturer that incubates and scales BIPOC- and women -led businesses will conduct racial equity training with regional contract manufacturers to better serve the needs of diverse food entrepreneurs in the community

Elemental Energy – Designer and installer of solar photovoltaic systems for residential and commercial clients will promote greater access to green technology (solar energy) and customer service in the metro area’s Spanish-speaking community

GBD Architects – Firm plans to hire an equity consultant to assist in the development of a process for selecting project work through an equity lens

GladRags – reusable menstrual product company will develop a marketing and awareness campaign for BIPOC women

Hi Fi Sound Cycling Components – Maker of wheels and accessories for racing bikes will provide a bike library and cycling clinics for BIPOC riders

Money Quotient – Financial management trainer will offer classes and trainings on DEI, and No-Impact/ Regenerative Investing and the Wealth Gap

Moonstruck Chocolates – Chocolate manufacturer seeks to diversify supply chain to support and emphasize historically marginalized communities across multiple intersections: BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA, and differently abled

Pensole – Pensole Footwear Design Academy will conduct marketing outreach focused on BIPOC creatives across the Midwest and East Coast to promote their design programs in partnership with Sneakerball Cincinnati and Bigger Than Sneakers to empower the younger generation of footwear industry designers.

Portland Fashion Institute – outreach to African American community to build awareness/ acceptance and applications for PFI’s diversity program and train BIPOC youth in a high-demand job with market-rate wages

Studio Petretti – Architecture firm plans to conduct a 4-day workshop, Critical Race Spatial Praxis, in Planning and Design with educator Amara Pérez

Village Resiliency – Trauma-informed training and education provider will offer Anti-Racist Practices and Policies: Workforce Development, a series ranging from 3 to 12 months and involving both organizational coaching and ongoing staff-wide facilitated courageous conversations around race

VOXAPOD – Sustainable period-care brand creating inclusive marketing and brand assets in partnership with BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities

Quotes from businesses: 

Jen Carbaugh, Director of People and Culture, Moonstruck Chocolate: “Moonstruck Chocolate Co is humbled and grateful to have been accepted into the Inspiring Diversity Grant program.  As we continually evaluate our business practices and their impact, we are looking forward to using these funds to diversify our supply chain across all intersections of historically marginalized groups.  We expect to develop broader representation in our ingredient and packaging suppliers, and our marketing and artistry partners to better inspire and reflect our Portland community.”

Haydee Franco, Development Manager and Color and Material Lead, Pensole: “We appreciate the opportunity that Prosper Portland’s Inspiring Diversity grant offers to expand our outreach to a larger geographic region. As we continue our efforts to increase diverse representation within the industry, this resource will strengthen our community impact as we mentor, develop and empower the next generation of designers.”

Sharon Blair, director, Portland Fashion Institute:  “Last year’s ID grant helped us double student diversity. We also were able to grant a fashion scholarship to a talented person of color. This year, PFI sees an even greater opportunity.  Every week PFI gets requests for help producing apparel.  At the same time, it knows of young people of color who don’t have the skills but would like to get into the fashion world. With this year’s ID grant, we are linking two groups who likely have never heard of each other. We are training students selected from an underserved community, then preparing them to work for companies that need their help. By bringing these groups together, we can get young people into well-paid, satisfying jobs while strengthening Portland’s important apparel scene.”

Learn more about PFI’s scholarship recipient, Jefferson High School’s Gabriel Madlangbayan, whose workwear + sportswear design idea achieves more than fashion. At PFI he plans to learn the skills to take his ideas into a career at one of Portland’s major apparel companies. View video.