Nine nonprofit organizations and two private companies are the recipients of Metro’s Investment and Innovation program grants for the 2020-2021 cycle. These grants aim to support creative ideas to prevent and reduce waste and advance racial equity in the waste system.
Metro launched the Investment and Innovation program as a three-year pilot in 2018. The grants assist local businesses and nonprofit organizations involved in reducing the environmental impacts of products produced, consumed and discarded in the region.
The grants for 2021 were originally budgeted for up to $6 million but were scaled back considerably due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Metro’s overall garbage and recycling budget.
This year the program will fund 11 grants between $10,000 and $50,000 to support personnel costs, operations and equipment. The new grants represent a total Metro investment of about $473,000.
In addition to preventing waste and fostering creative reuse, all of the 2020 program grants will help advance equity goals in the Regional Waste Plan.
One of these aims is to share the prosperity of the garbage and recycling system with people who have often been left out of the benefits. Most of the new grants will support organizations led by and/or serving communities of color or other historically marginalized groups.
“I'm very excited about the prospects of the work the 11 recipients of the I & I grant program will contribute in advancing the equity goals of the Regional Waste Plan,” said Metro Councilor Juan Carlos González. “We've set out to support non-profits and private businesses in thinking creatively to address the inequities in our solid waste and recycling system while removing barriers to make these funds more accessible.”
The grant to Community Development Corporation of Oregon will support the Rockwood Food Systems Collaborative’s efforts to reduce food waste and grow the capacity of businesses owned by people of color.
These businesses will produce and market culturally-relevant food products, such as soup, salsas and salads, from good excess food that would otherwise be disposed.
Two of the new grants both reduce waste and help people experiencing homelessness, primarily people of color and veterans. City Repair will partner with the Center for Public Interest Design at Portland State University to develop a process for converting construction mock-ups (small prototypes of larger buildings) into durable, lasting homes to place into houseless villages.
Hygiene For All will launch a pilot program for people experiencing homelessness to trade soiled clothing and bedding for clean items through a clothing and bedding exchange. The project will demonstrate the environmental, human health and equity benefits of facilitating clothing and bedding reuse rather than disposal.
A grant to ROSE Community Development Corporation will expand opportunities for residents of its affordable housing communities to compost food scraps in their homes.
ROSE CDC will hold 38 workshops, and provide technical support and compost kits for over 450 households, in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank, Zenger Farms and Urban Gleaners. The majority of ROSE’s affordable housing communities are comprised of people of color, immigrants, refugees and non-English speakers.
Read details on the newly awarded grants
The 2020 grants include changes to make the funding more accessible:
- Nonprofit applicants will not be required to secure matching funds if they are awarded a grant.
- Business applicants will be required to demonstrate a 20% match, however there is new flexibility with how they can meet this requirement
- Funding will now be disbursed on an accelerated schedule, as opposed to the reimbursement approach of past grants.