FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Babs Adamski, Small Grants Coordinator
Neighborhood Grants Program Highlights Community Efforts to Support Northeast Portland Youth
Portland, OR – With a goal of building livable, equitable and sustainable neighborhoods and communities for all, the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, in partnership with the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement, granted close to $30,000 to fifteen community groups in inner north and northeast Portland in 2012. Over the year, these groups worked to improve the quality of our neighborhoods by building community, increasing volunteer capacity and forging new organizational relationships. Several of these projects show community commitment to engaging and supporting the future of our City’s children. It is with pleasure that we highlight the success of these 2012 Neighborhood Small Grant and Graffiti Abatement Grant recipients.
The Coalition of Black Men (COBM) hosted four youth-centered graffiti removal events over the past year. The first event was hosted in partnership with Portland institution House of Umoja, a community-based organization focused on educational programs and services for African American youth during their annual Malcolm X Birthday celebration. In addition to community service through graffiti removal, 15 to 20 youth participated in talks with community leaders on topics such as history, civic engagement and health. Youth and Coalition volunteers tidied up local businesses Deans Barber Shop, Wonder Bread Bakery, the Black United Fund and a vacant house across from Vancouver Avenue Baptist Church.
Engaging youth in community service is only one aspect of the program. COBM notes that their events simultaneously serve as mentoring opportunities for youth, allowing them to engage with community professionals and positive African American male role models. These experiences encourage youth to set positive community standards, helping to reinforce positive models of communication and relationships between families, instructors, mentors, community organizations and businesses.
Finding Our Road to Success (FORTS) engaged middle, high school and college age women in a week-long spring break program meant to help girls push eachother to do better rather than push against one another. Each day, girls engaged in hip-hop classes, documentary screenings and discussion, spoken word workshops, etiquette lessons with local business leaders and sexual health seminars. Looking towards its second year, FORTS hopes to both educate and create mentoring relationships between girls in diferent age ranges, allowing young women to learn with and from one another, take initiative and consider their futures.
Chess for Success reports having leveled the playing field for a diverse group (70% minorities, 25% girls) of children and parents at King, Woodlawn, Vernon, Faubion, Sabin and Boise-Eliot-Humboldt schools participating in their after school chess clubs this year. Although the connection between chess and community building might seem vague at first, Chess for Success clubs truly build diverse connections between parents and students. CFS brings students together to play on an equal playing field: boys and girls, first through eighth graders, special education students, high‐achieving students, students with physical disabilities, and non–English speakers.
Julie Young, CFS Organizer says, “Principals are shocked at the number of parents who attend the tournament to watch their children play. They tell us that they cannot get them to come to school events even when they offer to feed them. When they first arrive many parents are timid and do not look at each other or talk with each other. As the day goes on they start communicating, even if they do not speak the same language. By the end of the day many are talking with each other and exchanging phone numbers.”
Urban League of Portland Get Your Vote On! Project provided stipends for 4 young people at Jefferson and Grant high schools in Northeast and North Portland to work within their high schools and amongst their peers to register them to vote for the 2012 elections, provide education on civic engagement and organize participation activities. These four students helped over 80 students to register to vote and gave presentations to show their peers how to learn about and evaluate candidates and ballots. Each student learned public speaking and how to persuade their peers about the value of civic engagement. The students helped craft questions with a youth focus for candidates and developed scripts for a "Get Out the Vote" phone bank, contributing to the Urban League achieving over 1000 non-partisan reminder calls to registered voters. According to Urban League employee Midge Purcell, projects like these, “build the next generation of community leaders by engaging them early and introducing them to skills that will be sustained life-long, including confidence building, public speaking, and commitment to the community.”
In January, NECN will announce Neighborhood Small Grant recipients for 2013. The program goal is to provide neighborhood and community organizations the opportunity to build community, attract new and diverse members and sustain those already involved. This program prioritizes engagement of historically under-represented organizations representing people of color, immigrants and refugees, low-income families, youth, people with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bi and transgendered people
For more information, contact Babs Adamski at email@example.com or 503-388-6100.
About the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods: NECN is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to neighborhood leadership, issue advocacy and community initiatives in inner north and northeast Portland. As a core part of the Portland Community Engagement System, NECN serves as one of seven district coalitions advancing neighborhood livability through highly inclusive civic engagement. We believe in creating healthy communities by engaging citizens to become directly involved in determining how their neighborhood evolves. For more information, please visit the Coalition’s website at necoalition.org.