Ecology education, scholarships for nature-focused bike camps and urban forestry job training programs are just some of the projects that will receive a collective $800,000 in Nature in Neighborhoods grants from Metro.
The Metro Council on Thursday awarded 14 grants to community organizations and groups supporting and creating partnerships in local communities. The grants emphasize building cultural, environmental and economic equity, part of Metro’s strategy to support racial equity.
“We want to make sure communities of color have access to safe parks, protected natural areas and the benefits of healthy land, air and water,” said Juan Carlos Ocaña-Chíu, Metro’s parks and nature business services manager, who oversees the community investments program.
The grants are possible thanks to money from the parks and natural areas levy that voters renewed in 2016. In the latest round, Metro received 52 applications seeking $2.85 million in funding.
Grant selection criteria prioritized cultural, environmental and economic equity, Ocaña-Chíu said.
“At the same time, we emphasized the recruitment of a diverse group of grant selection committee participants who brought a variety of knowledge, skills and abilities and used that experience and knowledge to help us come up with a slate of grants recommended for funding,” he said.
The committee “valued organizations that not only described the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion commitments but could also give examples of efforts moving toward implementation of specific changes,” said Derron Coles, executive director of the nonprofit Blueprint Foundation and a member of the grant selection committee.
For instance, the Center for Diversity & the Environment this year received $60,000 for its Environment 2042 Emerging Leaders program, which identifies and develops people ages 18 to 25 to help build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environmental movement in greater Portland. The program also received a grant from Metro in 2016.
Programs like Environment 2042 that receive support from Nature in Neighborhoods grants can change lives, participants said.
“I have found mentors and peers I’ve learned so much from that really listen to my experiences,” said Danielle Jones, a program participant. “It’s a place where I can be my whole authentic self, which as a black woman in Portland is not something I can always say. My experience has been transformative.”
Another one of this year’s grants provides scholarships for 200 participants of the Community Cycling Center’s nature-focused bike camps. As the children bike from park to park, they learn about climate change and nature. In the process, 100 of the participants will have an opportunity to earn and keep their bikes by the end of the week-long camp.
“It’s Metro who has enabled us to make this education possible,” said Yashar Vasef, senior development manager at the center. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support for this nature education grant and providing these youth the joy and freedom of two wheels and nature education.”
Full list of 2018 Nature in Neighborhoods nature education and outdoor experiences grant recipients:
Advancing Cultural and Environmental Equity for API Communities
Recipient: APANO Communities United Fund
Grant amount: $30,000
Program Partners: Friends of Trees, Willamette Partnership, Columbia Land Trust, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Tualatin Riverkeepers, Multnomah County, Oregon Zoo
Program summary: Connects APANO members with greater Portland’s parks and natural areas and offers leadership development opportunities to advance environmental equity in East Portland neighborhoods.
Environment 2042 Emerging Leaders (E42EL)
Recipient: Center for Diversity & the Environment
Grant amount: $60,000
Program Partners: US Fish & Wildlife, Racial Equity Institute, Youth Mentoring Collaborative (which includes other organizations such as USFW and Portland Parks & Recreation), Leaven Community, CDE Community
Program summary: The Environment 2042 Emerging Leaders Program will identify and develop a cohort of youth (age 18 to 25) from the Metro area to prepare them to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environmental movement in the region.
Nature-focused Scholarship Bike Camps!
Recipient: Community Cycling Center
Grant amount: $54,771
Program Partners: Sharon Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Shaver Elementary SUN Community School program, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, Gladys Ruiz Consulting, Columbia Slough Watershed Council
Program summary: The Community Cycling Center has taught high-quality summer bike camps since 2000. This program will deliver 20 week-long, nature-focused, full-scholarship bike camps to low-income youth, primarily youth of color, including giving new bikes to 100 participants in North, Northeast and East Portland.
Ecology Education in North Clackamas
Recipient: Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors
Grant amount: $57,700
Program Partners: N. Clackamas School District: Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Bilquist, Ardenwald and Whitcomb Elementary Schools, Clackamas Water Environment Services, Oak Lodge Water Services, The Wetlands Conservancy, Milwaukie Elks Lodge, Bilquist Parent Teacher Assocuation, Oregon Forest Resources Institute
Program summary: Ecology Education in North Clackamas will engage 1,200 third- through fifth-grade students and 40 teachers at five Title I elementary schools each year of this two-year program. Each classroom receives four ecology lessons and a service-learning field trip each year.
Reclaiming Indigenous Futures through Cultural Ecology
Recipient: Friends of Tryon Creek
Grant amount: $100,000
Program Partners: Native American Youth and Family Center, Cultural Lifeways Community, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Oregon State Parks Foundation
Program summary: Friends of Tryon Creek will collaborate with the Native American Youth and Family Center to reclaim and reconnect to culturally significant lands at Tryon Creek State Natural Area, through the Cultural Ecology curriculum, supported by Cultural Lifeways.
Recipient: Friends of Zenger Farm
Grant amount: $72,850
Program Partners: David Douglas School District, Wisdom of the Elders, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, SUN Community Schools at Gilbert Park and Earl Boyles Elementary, ROSE Community Development, and Mt. Scott Learning Center
Program summary: Farm School is a farm, garden and wetland-based outdoor education program that connects East Portland youth with 12 hours of instruction over three seasons and introduces their families with a natural area near their home.
KairosPDX – Culturally Responsive Nature Education
Grant amount: $60,000
Program Partners: Mudbone Grown LLC, Oregon State University Extension 4-H, Portland State University, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
Program summary: KairosPDX is engaged in providing all of its diverse 160 students with experiential and culturally responsive nature-based outdoor education through community partnerships, classroom lessons, neighborhood outdoor adventures, and excursions to natural areas.
Portland Harbor Access & Cultural Ties to the River
Recipient: Portland Harbor Community Coalition
Grant amount: $30,000
Program Partners: Get Hooked, LLC, East European Coalition, American Indian Movement - Portland Chapter, Iraqi Society of Oregon
Program summary: This program connects and re-connects youth and adults to the Portland Harbor through culturally-specific events and outings that educate about the Willamette River and superfund site and inspire a reverence for nature and wildlife.
Student Crew Leadership Training Program
Recipient: Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center Inc.
Grant amount: $30,000
Program Partners: Friends of Trees, Portland Parks & Recreation, Metro, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Friends of Columbia Children's Arboretum, Ecology in Classrooms & Outdoors, Xerces Society
Program summary: Through the Student Crew Leadership Team Training Program, POIC, Friends of Trees and others provide low-income youth of color with the opportunity to engage in project-based education and career-track natural resource mentorship.
Soul River Conservation Leadership Training and Celebration of Wild Steelhead
Recipient: Soul River Incorporated
Grant amount: $15,000
Program Partners: Urban Nature Partners, Vive NW, US Fish & Wildlife, Rosemary Anderson High School, Sistah Sistah, Afrovivalist, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Portland Fly Shop
Program summary: This program provides educational and training activities at Oxbow Park and the Celebration of Wild Steelhead at McCoy Park, which connect to and support educational deployments to the Arctic, the Ochoco Mountains, Owyhee Canyonlands and Bears Ears National Monument.
Nature Experiences and Workforce Training (NEWT): Changing the Face of the Field
Recipient: Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District
Grant amount: $69,935
Program Partners: Adelante Mujeres, Beaverton School District including the Multilingual Department, Columbia Sportswear, Friends of the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, Vose Neighborhood Association Committee
Program summary: Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District will partner with Adelante Mujeres and the Beaverton School District to develop after-school nature programming at four schools in Beaverton and develop a two-year workforce development program for Latino students.
Growing Green: Training Leaders for Tomorrows Jobs
Recipient: Tualatin Riverkeepers
Grant amount: $99,880
Program Partners: Centro Cultural, Muslim Educational Trust, The Wetlands Conservancy, City of Tualatin, City of Portland Urban Forestry Department, Friends of Trees
Program summary: Tualatin Riverkeeper’s Green Jobs-Urban Forestry Training Program uses private, public and non-profit partnerships to promote environmental stewardship, increase access to economic opportunities and improve the social conditions of immigrants and refugees in Washington County.
Living Cully Youth Nature Education Program
Grant amount: $80,044
Program Partners: Hacienda CDC's Expresiones after-school program, Native American Youth and Family Center's Early College Academy, Portland Youth and Elders Council, Scott Elementary School, Rigler Elementary School, Portland State University
Program summary: Verde’s two-year youth nature education program will benefit low-income youth and youth of color in Portland's Cully neighborhood and establish a replicable model of service delivery.
Wisdom Workforce Development Program
Recipient: Wisdom of the Elders, Inc.
Grant amount: $39,820
Program Partners: Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Portland Parks City Nature East and West, Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors, Zenger Farm, Friends of Trees, Native American Youth and Family Center, Green Lents, ROSE Community Development, Columbia Slough Watershed Council, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Leach Botanical Garden, Reed and Lewis & Clark Colleges
Program summary: Wisdom Workforce Development provides Native American adults with culturally tailored environmental assessment and habitat restoration workforce training and provides diverse partners with equity training through field experience in local natural areas.