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Press Release: City Approves Quarter-Million Dollars in Community Grants Around Anti-Racism, Disability Justice & Transformative Justice

News Article
Civic Life’s Constructing Civic Dialogues program will continue to offer training and educational opportunities for thousands this year


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                                                                                                                                   Wednesday, April 28, 2021

City Approves Quarter-Million Dollars in Community Grants Around Anti-Racism, Disability Justice & Transformative Justice

Civic Life’s Constructing Civic Dialogues program will continue to offer training and educational opportunities for thousands this year

PORTLAND, Ore.— Portland City Council unanimously approved the 2021-22 Constructing Civic Dialogues Grant, awarding a total of $248,319 to five nonprofit organizations. The grant funds empower local organizations to provide training and education opportunities to the public at no cost. The Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life) grant-funded trainings facilitate community conversations around bias and hate, teach productive communication skills, conflict resolution tactics, and mediation skills. Since January 2019, the grant has awarded a total of $745,432 to community organizations and businesses and trained more than 1,500 Portlanders during the 2019-20 grant cycle.

Two people sit next to each other, talking and smiling
OB Hill and Swiggle Mandela talk during a 2020 Vanport Mosaic Constructing Civic Dialogue workshop, "Stories in Movement".

“It is important that our community has the right tools to communicate and resolve conflict before it becomes unmanageable,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “Civic Life’s grant program Constructing Civic Dialogues supports community engagement and strategies for community safety that move beyond calling the police when a conflict arises. Instead, it offers tools to deescalate potential conflict situations so that they do not become serious issues. I am excited to support the continuation of this grant program as my office is committed to finding new ways to engage Portlanders around increasing understanding and respect for our differences and shared interests.”

As our communities and country face a rise in hate crimes and renewed calls for racial justice, the need for this program is more relevant than ever. All grantees are committed to creating trainings that center “upstream approaches”, meaning that they teach measures and steps that help us all engage in more constructive dialogue.

The five organizations selected to receive the grant are committed to working directly with community to address important topics such as racial justice, disability rights, and support for houseless communities. Each of the participating organizations offer their own unique curriculum including guiding community members in trauma-informed communication and de-escalation and helping housed neighbors understand the daily struggles experienced by unhoused people; facilitating conversations around community safety issues faced by Black transgender and queer communities; and how to support and advance disability justice.

“The Constructing Civic Dialogues grant allows us to do exactly what we aspire to do—bring people together across housing status to know and learn from each other,” said Kaia Sand, Executive Director at Street Roots and 2021 Constructing Civic Dialogue grant recipient. “But more importantly, we want to center this in the expertise of people on the streets and recognize their labor and expertise as paid work. All of this is only possible through this Constructing Civic Dialogues grant.”

“I am really excited about the new cohort of grantees,” said Carlee Smith, Civic Life's Constructing Civic Dialogues Coordinator. “Each of the organizations selected have direct experience and expertise in community engagement. They work every day with communities impacted by bias and exclusion and are eager to provide training to all Portlanders that will build empathy, communication skills, and conflict resolution skills.”

The grant selection committee consisted of four City employees which met three times. The committee reviewed 29 applications, looking for applicants that embodied equity-based values and directly serve communities disproportionately impacted by bias and systemic barriers including LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and people with disabilities. The 2021-22 Constructing Civic Dialogues programming will become available as early as this fall.

The current grant cycle is continuing to produce trainings for the public and the next Constructing Civic Dialogues workshop, How to Survive a Police Stop, will be held virtually by Training 4 Transformation on Saturday, May 1 from 2 to 4 p.m. and Thursday, May 6 from 3 to 5 p.m. To register for this training and to learn more about our program and other trainings visit  www.portland.gov/civic/ccd

The 2021-22 Grantees

The Curiosity Paradox, LLC $60,000

The Curiosity Paradox will co-host a 5-month exploration of disability art and justice through their website and a series of virtual workshops. This is an anti-ableist, anti-racist, queer, and trans-positive space centering the needs and voices of the disability community. thecuriosityparadox.com/

Black & Beyond the Binary Collective, $60,000

Black & Beyond the Binary Collective will convene five community partners to host ten events over the next year. Each event will focus on public safety, immigration, public health, indigenous sovereignty, and the gaps in learning regarding community safety and the Black transgender and queer experiences. blackbeyondthebinarycollective.org

Vo Vo, $35,000

Vo Vo will hold a series of trainings and capacity building sessions for the public. These capacity building sessions will be trauma-informed, resilience building facilitation training, inclusive of disability justice, harm reduction and LGBTQIA+ lenses. The sessions will also provide practice for building transformative justice applications and skills. Topics will include bystander intervention and de-escalation, anti-racist trauma-informed care, communication styles and how to recognize/respond to different styles, constructive allyship, and building cultural resilience for BIPOC communities. annavo.wordpress.com/2020/06/22/trainings-and-consultations

Street Roots, $47,319

Street Roots will implement the Ambassadors Program as part of the Civic Circles initiative, led and facilitated by people who have experienced houselessness. This program will guide housed neighbors in trauma-informed communication and de-escalation, helping them understand daily struggles experienced by unhoused people. Ambassadors will conduct outreach with unhoused neighbors to better understand them and their needs. They will lead conversations to help neighbors across housing statuses build relationships. streetroots.org

Bridge-Pamoja $46,000

Bridge-Pamoja will convene a series of virtual community summits and ongoing personal storytelling and community listening groups to foster better community relations among African immigrant and African American communities in Portland. Youth affiliated with this organization will lead the African & African American Youth Summit, bringing together young Africans and African Americans for age-specific discussions. There will also be facilitated monthly or biweekly personal storytelling and community listening sessions with small groups (20 or fewer) of African and African American residents to share stories and develop bonds across cultures. bridge-pamoja.org


The Office of Community & Civic Life (Civic Life) connects the people of Portland with their City government to promote the common good. Our programs create a culture of collaboration, expanding possibilities for all Portlanders to contribute their knowledge, experience, and creativity to solve local problems and make life better in the city we all share. portlandoregon.gov/civic