Thursday, January 21, 2021

Portland City Council has approved $1 million in new investments in 8 small organizations that have not received Portland Children’s Levy funding in the past. 

The three-year grants will begin this month and include four mentoring programs, three after-school programs and one hunger relief program: 

African Youth and Community Organization 

Camp ELSO 

Portland Tennis and Education  

Brown Girl Rise  

Elevate Oregon 

Ethiopian & Eritrean Cultural and Resource Center 

Urban Gleaners 

Native Wellness Institute 

The Small Grants Fund process began last spring and was spearheaded by Levy Small Grants Fund Manager Arika Bridgeman-Bunyoli. The process included guidance from a six-member volunteer Design Team, included multiple community conversations with small organizations, and culminated in funding recommendations made by a 12-member review team.  

“We have to take a look at the bigger picture rather than through the microscopic lens when reflecting on the needs of an unrepresented population. African Youth Community Organization (AYCO), serves a majority of the Somali population from financial assistance to youth support to family support.  Beyond serving the general needs of the youth in our community, this grant helps us to serve children with special learning needs in a culturally specific way that engages their whole family”  – Balkhiis Noor, 
Bridge Community Outreach Coordinator/Youth Environmental Justice Coordinator 

“There has been little to no self-care, psychologically, given the Somali civil war that has left thousands of people homeless, seeking refuge, traumatized and more. African Youth and Community Organization is able to better support our youth community to better manage life with the fund offered by the Portland Children’s Levy. Thanks to the grant and our Occupational Therapist, we are able to better support from simple needs to complex skills that a person might have.” – Muna Yusuf,  Social Service Coordinator.

The African Youth and Community Organization’s mission is “to settle the past, engage the present, and hope for the future.” AYCO strives to strengthen a sense of cultural identity within immigrant communities while also enhancing capacity toward integration and hope for the future. 

The Portland Children’s Levy’s mission is to prepare children for school, support their success in and out of the classroom, and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in their well-being and school success.