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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.

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.

ApplicantProject TypeGrant 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.