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Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) awards 45 grants totaling $8.6 million in the program’s first round of funding

Press release

Portland City Council votes to approve PCEF's inaugural funding recommendation package, awarding its first $8.6 million to fund 45 grants in the clean energy, regenerative agriculture/green infrastructure, workforce development fields.

Published

This afternoon, Portland City Council unanimously voted to approve the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF) Grant Committee funding recommendation package, awarding its first $8.6 million of investments to fund 45 grants to 38 organizations. From energy efficiency retrofits to culturally relevant community gardens, to apprenticeships for low-income people of color and women to enter careers in clean energy construction, the projects funded all take on climate action and center those most affected by the impacts of climate change.

Commissioner Carmen Rubio says, “For too long, frontline communities have experienced the disproportionate impacts of climate change.” She continues, “We’ve been left out of discussions around solutions and been deprived of the resources to fund them. Step after step, PCEF charted a path to fix these problems, all while centering our frontline communities and lifting up their ideas and approaches. I am very pleased to see the range of grantees and projects for this inaugural round of funding and cannot wait to see what comes from them.”

This groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind program was voted in overwhelmingly by Portland voters during the 2018 November elections. By the end of 2019, the program’s inaugural 9-person Grant Committee was assembled. After a year of collaboration amidst a backdrop of challenging and momentous time, the Committee’s inaugural funding recommendations to City Council are the result of hundreds of hours listening to community members, dozens of public Committee work sessions, extensive public comment and feedback on key components of the program, and an enthusiastic community response.  

“This past year has been the most challenging yet pressing year for us to build up this program, says Sam Baraso, PCEF Program Manager. He continues, “Everything PCEF is today is the result of countless hours of labor and love poured in from the community, Grant Committee members, experts, and staff. We received more high-quality proposals than we could fund this round, but thanks to Portland voters, this will be the first of many exciting program funding opportunities for our communities to take climate action.”

40% of funds will be directed to small or emerging organizations. Many of the funded grants focus on climate action that create multiple benefits.

Of the 45 grants awarded, 29 are planning grants, providing funding for organizations to plan, conduct assessments, and refine climate action projects into full project proposals. The remaining 16 grants awarded will fund projects ready for implementation. 12 of the 16 implementation projects involve infrastructure investments with an estimate total lifetime reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of roughly 11,500 metric tons (CO2e). Out of the 12 physical improvement grants, 8 projects are predominantly located east of 82nd Avenue. 

Seven projects funded fall under the Clean Energy category and include energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to residential properties with an emphasis on deep energy retrofits serving low-income households. The funding package also includes 4 Workforce development projects, aimed at training existing and new workers to prepare for jobs in the green economy. Lastly, 4 green infrastructure and regenerative agriculture projects were funded, ranging from tree planting to depaving schools throughout the community. 

Malcom Hoover from Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, a planning grant recipient says, “Black Futures Farm is committed helping to create a clean energy ‘future’ for everyone. This funding will allow us to research the best methods of harvesting clean energy, runoff from rainfall, and show us the best ways to reduce our farms’ carbon footprint. We’ll also be able to pay a real living wage to contractors and workers. We’re very excited about this funding.”

Derron Coles from The Blueprint Foundation, a large grant recipient says, “The PCEF funds will help us implement two culturally responsive workforce development programs that will contribute to a shift towards community-driven environmental stewardship. We are immensely grateful for the intentionality the PCEF team used throughout the process and their investment in BIPOC ‘for us by us’ initiatives.”

 "We are excited to get to work! Climate change and green construction is a very narrow field with very limited engagement with Native and minority owned firms," says James Parker from Oregon Native American Chamber (ONACC), a planning grant recipient. "It will be through strong efforts and diligence that we will work toward re-creating our "new normal" of strategic investment and support remedies in both policy and practice that restores our communities to, once again, support and care for one another in ways that are healthy and productive." 

“Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI) is thrilled to be a recipient of the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund (PCEF),” says Kymberly Horner from Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI), a planning and large grant recipient. These funds will allow PCRI, a Black-led affordable housing provider that serves low-income residents based in North/Northeast Portland, to complete an Energy and Water Assessment of PCRI’s Maya Angelou Center (a 42-unit apartment complex) and Park Terrace (88-unit apartment complex), as well as train our maintenance technicians to conduct home energy assessments of PCRI properties that upon rehabilitation, will increase energy efficiencies and lower utility bills. Thanks to PCEF funds, we have a great opportunity to improve the quality of life of our generationally disenfranchised residents, build community partnerships, and learn more about the potential of the green economy.”

22 panelists, consisting of Grant Committee members, program staff, and subject matter experts, reviewed a total of 133 applications in 26 review meetings. Applications were reviewed according to the following criteria refined over a four-month period after extensive public comment: organizational capacity, project description and scope, environmental benefit, social benefit, workforce benefit, and budget. Grant Committee deliberations on funding package recommendations spanned two 3-hour meetings.

The full list of grantees below, alphabetized and organized by project type. Read the full program report, including short summaries of each funded grant, presented to City Council April 1, 2021.

Applicant 

Project Type 

Grant Amount 

Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI)  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

APANO Communities United Fund  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

Beyond Black  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

Black Community of Portland  

Planning  

 $    50,500   

Black Food Sovereignty Coalition  

Planning  

 $    99,514   

Brown Hope  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

Center for Intercultural Organizing; Unite Oregon  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

Constructing Hope Pre-Apprenticeship Program  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

East Portland Resilience Coalition  

Planning  

 $    99,999   

Familias en Accion  

Planning  

 $    99,972   

Forth  

Planning  

 $    84,300   

Getting There Together Coalition  

Planning  

 $    90,460   

LatinoBuilt Foundation  

Planning  

 $    99,500   

Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon  

Planning  

 $    97,289   

Mudbone Grown  

Planning  

 $    91,521   

National Association of Minority Contractors-Oregon  

Planning  

 $    93,750   

Native American Youth and Family Center  

Planning  

 $    68,032   

Oregon Native American Chamber  

Planning  

 $    89,996   

Outgrowing Hunger  

Planning  

 $    23,500   

Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc.  

Planning  

 $    13,770   

Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc.  

Planning  

 $    68,276   

Portland Fruit Tree Project  

Planning  

 $    81,195   

Self Enhancement, Inc.  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

Suma  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

The AfroVillage  

Planning  

 $    98,412   

The Ebony Collective CDC  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

Urban League of Portland  

Planning  

 $    99,982   

Voz Workers' Rights Education Project  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

Yoga Punx PDX  

Planning  

 $    100,000   

African American Alliance for Home Ownership  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy  

 $    569,005   

Community Energy Project  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy  

 $    889,884   

Diversifying Energy  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy  

 $    198,000   

Human Solutions, Inc.  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy  

 $    340,000   

Native American Youth and Family Center  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy  

 $    373,128   

Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc.  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy  

 $    554,757   

Verde/Verde Builds  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy  

 $    165,880   

APANO Communities United Fund  

Energy efficiency or renewable energy, Workforce/contractor development 

 $    199,260   

Constructing Hope Pre-Apprenticeship Program  

Workforce/contractor development  

 $    500,000   

Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 49  

Workforce/contractor development  

 $    148,373   

The Blueprint Foundation  

Workforce/contractor development  

 $    439,179   

The Blueprint Foundation  

Workforce/contractor development  

 $    770,654   

Depave  

Regenerative agriculture/Green infrastructure  

 $    491,320   

Growing Gardens  

Regenerative agriculture/Green infrastructure  

 $    199,995   

Outgrowing Hunger  

Regenerative agriculture/Green infrastructure  

 $    171,738   

Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and Rosemary Anderson High School   

Regenerative agriculture/Green infrastructure  

 $    74,259   

Visit here for more details around the September 2020 RFP inaugural funding round, including background, process, FAQs, etc.