Contact: Shawn Uhlman, 503-823-7994

Nine local businesses representing multiple traded sector industries will receive grants to support their work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The Inspiring Diversity Grant, awarded by Prosper Portland, is a pilot program intended to encourage private employers to incorporate creative, equity-related best practices around workforce, marketing and communications.

The agency received more than 40 applications for the first-time grant, which targeted companies that sell many of their products and services to people and businesses outside the Portland region, nationally and globally.

Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam said, “This grant is part of our strategic move to use an equity lens in our economic development work with traded sector industries. We are building a community for learning and providing resources to help the business recipients and their peer companies become more competitive from a diversity and inclusion perspective.”

The recipients’ growth potential, leadership commitment and interest in peer learning were key factors in their selection, with preference given to companies that could match the requested funds.

The matching grants range from $1700 to $8000 and support companies in the technology, athletic and outdoor, and green cities industry clusters which provide high-paying and middle-wage jobs and opportunities for Portlanders.

Recipients and projects are:

Bridge & Burn – a fashion retailer seeking to make product photo and advertising casting calls more diverse

Castelli – this cycling apparel innovator will focus on HR assessments and internal diversity training/dialogue

KEEN – footwear company working on diversity/equity/inclusion assessment and cultural change

Treehouse – tech educator will provide staff trainings on trauma informed care

Ride Report – creates tools to manage emerging mobility services; grant will support a micromobility enablement program to expand scooter/bike ridership among low income and underserved residents

Green Hammer – high-performance design-build will provide internal bias training

BORA – architectural firm planning to do DEI training, create equity statement and integrate equity into project practices

ThinkShout – digital strategy and design agency will offer internal DEI training

Advanced Technology Communications – multi-disciplinary agency will provide training for young Latino professionals in the use of drones and STEM opportunities

Quotes from businesses:

Sarah Ashton, Bridge and Burn: “With the grant from Prosper Portland, we will be able to solidify an equitable company culture and create marketing images that resonate with everyone. This grant will help our staff learn more about unconscious biases and apply that learning to engaging with our co-workers, models, and customers in the best way possible!”

Alexis Johnson, Ride Report: “Ride Report is excited to leverage Prosper Portland’s Inspiring Diversity grant to help our local community use alternate forms of transportation provided by the scooter fleets being deployed in Portland. Our program creates an integral, but currently absent bridge, between the underserved and marginalized populations of Portland, and effective education, empowerment, and access to micromobility transportation. Having this new resource will have a huge impact on how we develop our product to be mindful of the perspectives of the city residents we serve. “

Beth Campbell, Green Hammer: “The Prosper Portland grant allows Green Hammer the opportunity to put equity and inclusion at the forefront of our company training priorities and delve into our implicit biases and internalized “isms” (racism, sexism, etc.). Through upcoming trainings, we expect to increase our focus on equity and create next steps for a more inclusive workplace.”

Brian Squillace, BORA: “BORA is grateful for the opportunity to critically explore our own practice, learning to identify and reduce barriers that impact our staff, partners, and the diverse communities we serve. Prosper Portland has provided a catalyst for change by staging this discussion at a city-wide level, and we are eager to share this experience and lessons learned with our neighbors and peers in the local business community.”