Metro’s Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion envisions a region where Black, Indigenous and other communities of color shape the many decisions that impact their lives. As Metro’s work to advance racial equity and livability continues to expand, this vision is more critical than ever. However, culturally-specific community-based organizations, which have long played a critical role in making Metro’s processes more inclusive and its decisions more equitable, are finding themselves at or beyond capacity. This program helps these organizations scale their civic engagement efforts so they can support new generations of civic leaders, deepen civic participation in every corner of the region, and shape decisions towards more equitable outcomes.
The Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation defines civic engagement as: “The active participation of people in the decision-making processes that shape their communities and their lives.” This program uplifts this expansive definition and encourages deeper participation not only in Metro decision-making but also in decision-making across the many democratic, institutional and community spaces that shape the lives of greater Portland residents.
The Civic Engagement grant program funds community-based organizations working to increase civic engagement and community participation within greater Portland’s Black, Indigenous and communities of color. The multi-year grant program’s objectives include:
- Help grantee organizations build capacity and scale their civic engagement efforts
- Strategically invest in communities facing high barriers to civic participation, particularly the underserved areas of Clackamas, Washington and East Multnomah counties
- Support equitable decision-making across the garbage and recycling system and Metro’s other programmatic areas
- Build long-term, trusted relationships with community-based organizations and the Black, Indigenous and other communities of color they serve
- Bring more BIPOC leaders into Metro decision-making processes and committees.
The program consists of two separate grant tracks. Applicants may apply for either or both tracks but will receive funds from only one track.
General Civic Engagement grants
Three grants ranging from $60,000 - $80,000 per year for three years will be awarded to organizations looking to build civic engagement within Black, Indigenous and other communities of color in underserved areas of the region. Priority will be given to organizations with a focus on one or more of Metro’s programmatic areas: housing and houselessness, transportation, access to nature, land use, economic and workforce development, and climate and environmental justice.
Garbage and Recycling System grants
Two grants ranging from $60,000 - $100,000 per year for three years will be awarded to organizations looking for build civic and community engagement capacity to inform decisions across the garbage and recycling system. Successful proposals will demonstrate a clear tie to system decision-making processes, racial justice and environmental justice.
Who is eligible?
Community-based organizations who primarily work with, advocate for and/or provide services to Black, Indigenous and other communities of color are eligible to apply. Applicants must be based within the Metro boundary and have experience with civic or community engagement, leadership development or community organizing and advocacy.
Preferred organizations will have an annual budget of $80,000 or more, or at least one full-time staff, but this is not a requirement. Organizations may apply with a fiscal sponsor or submit a coalitional application with one or more other community-based organizations.
For a full list of eligibility requirements, please refer to the applicant handbook.
What can grants be used for?
Metro recognizes that community-based organizations know the best strategies to increase civic participation in the communities they serve. Accordingly, this program builds in flexibility on what activities it funds so organizations can meet the program’s objectives. Examples of eligible and ineligible uses, which may support organizations in developing strong proposals that fit within the limitations that Metro does have, can be found in the applicant handbook. Applicants should keep in mind that eligible uses vary by grant track.
How are grants awarded?
These grants will be awarded using a two-step application process. Any eligible organization may apply by submitting a letter of interest. Organizations may submit one or more letters of interest and may apply to either grant track or both tracks.
After evaluating letters of interest, the Advisory Group will invite 10-15 organizations to submit a more comprehensive application, details of which will be provided upon invitation.
Grant selections will be made by the Civic Engagement Grant Advisory Group using criteria outlined in the applicant handbook. The advisory group includes Metro staff, members of the Committee on Racial Equity and Regional Waste Advisory Committee, and additional community leaders.