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City of Portland's Cannabis Program Adds LGBTQIA+ Sports Inclusion Activist to Oversee Multi-Million Dollar Social Equity & Education Development (SEED) Initiatives

Press Release
Published
A portrait of Akil Patterson, a Black man with a broad smile, and close cut hair and beard, wearing a light blue dress shirt and a navy blue suit jacket.
Akil Patterson’s national advocacy work to advance LGBTQIA+ inclusion and safety in professional and collegiate sports aligns well with Portland’s goals to advance BIPOC communities in the industry hindered by past cannabis prohibition.

PORTLAND, Ore.— The City of Portland Cannabis Program made serious gains in its ability to provide equitable services with the addition of national LGBTQIA+ sports inclusion activist, podcast host, social advocacy convener and All-American college athlete Akil Patterson to oversee the multi-million dollar SEED Initiatives program.

SEED Initiatives is supported by an ongoing $1 million in cannabis tax revenue allocation. Each year, Portland City Council reaffirms the City’s commitment toward anti-racism and equity by voting to allocate and fund multiple community grant recipients as part of SEED Initiatives to undo race-biased cannabis policies and cannabis-related arrests. Last year, Portland awarded 17 grants to community-based organizations to administer work in education, entrepreneurship and economic development, and expungement and criminal justice. SEED Initiatives is designed to repair the lasting legal, social, economic, and inter-generational consequences past cannabis prohibition has had on Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

Patterson joined the team to mobilize the grant review and evaluation process. As the new lead for the program, he is slated to present in front of Council next month, including announcing the 2022-23 SEED grantees.

In July, the Cannabis Program team is also slated to provide an update to council on the Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) as Portland became the first in the county to allocate cannabis tax revenue to relieve the impacts of robberies, COVID-19, and wildfires on the industry.

“We’re seeing more programs mirror our structure and equity initiatives,” said Cannabis Program Manager Dasheeda Dawson. “SEED is the shining star, and other government-regulated programs are looking at our program as cannabis use becomes legalized in more states. Adding Akil to our team only helps the City expand our ability to administer grants to community-based organizations and emerging entities that share our vision of social equity and directly building educational and economic development pipelines for communities most harmed.”

“I am excited to contribute my social advocacy experience and bring my national platform to Portland’s trailblazing cannabis equity movement,” said SEED Coordinator Akil Patterson. “Administering equitable social change and racial justice is something I worked on my entire career. I am humbled to serve in this important movement by working with my Portland colleagues, cannabis entrepreneurs, and the greater Portland community to shine a bigger spotlight on Portland as we work together to model social change and innovation.”

How SEED Works?
To date, the program has completed four full cycles of the grant program. Since 2021, the SEED Grant Fund awarded $3,329,415 through 32 grants, and it continues to grow.

A table showing applications submitted and awarded, and amount of funds awarded by year. 2017: 9 submitted, 3 awarded, $350,000. 2018: 32 submitted, 6 awarded, $631,321. 2019: 31 submitted, 6 awarded, $548,094. 2020: 123 submitted, 17 awarded, $1,800,000. 2021: 91 submitted, 10 awarded, $1,000,000.

The SEED Grant Fund supports projects or programs in the following priority areas, including but not limited to: 

SEED Initiatives Grants. $1 million in cannabis tax revenue provides grants for nonprofit and for-profit groups repairing the disproportionate harm cannabis prohibition has caused to Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. Education development, entrepreneurship and economic development, expungement and criminal justice.

For more information on SEED Initiatives, visit: portland.gov/civic/cannabis/SEED