Enthusiastic response to Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund inaugural request for proposals

News Article
PCEF received 140 applications from community groups to invest in climate action that advances racial and social justice.

At the close of the two-month application period on November 23, the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) received 140 applications from more than 110 Oregon nonprofit organizations in response to the fund’s first request for proposals. The inaugural grant offering is for a total of $8.6 million. Beginning next year, $40 to $60 million will be available annually.

The number of applications shows a strong response to the fund’s call for projects that advance both climate action and racial justice for Portlanders. Applicants proposed a range of community projects related to clean energy, regenerative agriculture, and workforce development. The requests ranged from $10,000 to $1 million, averaged $250,000, and totaled more than $30 million.

Examples of proposed projects include job skills training in weatherization, career coaching and mentorship in the clean energy and urban forestry fields, solar installation and energy efficiency retrofits in affordable housing units, and programs that support under-represented groups in developing climate solutions.

“I am thrilled to see each and every brilliant idea from our community,” said Shanice Clarke, a member of the nine-person PCEF Grant Committee. “And I'm eager to begin our grant review process using the criteria that was informed by public input."

How we got here

This major milestone comes on the heels of the two-year anniversary of the passage of the PCEF ballot initiative, which is intended to support the leadership of community organizations as they address climate action.

The PCEF Grant Committee and staff are honoring this intention by ensuring communities – especially those at the frontlines of climate change – can participate in and benefit from the program. Several rounds of community feedback informed the first request for proposals. During the 60-day solicitation period for proposals, staff provided a range of applicant assistance, including webinars, meetings, grant writing trainings, phone calls, and translation assistance to ensure that any interested person or group could apply.

More than 250 people reflecting a wide range of community interest attended informational webinars and grant writing trainings hosted by PCEF staff. PCEF also awarded 42 community organizations to help build their capacity to engage in this round and future grant opportunities.

Next steps

The PCEF Grant Committee will now begin their review process and make final funding recommendations to City Council in March 2021. Over the next couple of months, Committee members will review and evaluate the proposals, using the program’s guiding principles and scoring criteria to ensure the grants fulfill the promise of the PCEF initiative to deliver citywide benefits that advance climate action and racial justice.

The first round of PCEF grantees is expected in Spring 2021.


Portland Clean Energy Fund