Portland’s Office of Community & Civic Life’s Social Equity & Educational Development (SEED) Grant Fund has announced its 2020 grant recipients. Six local organizations will receive a total of $548,000 to provide economic opportunity and education to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. The grant is funded from a portion of Measure 26-180 which directs a 3% tax on Portland’s recreational cannabis.

Portland has consistently been home to pioneering cannabis legislation. The city’s voters passed a 3% tax on adult-use cannabis in 2016. Since the measure was enacted, the funding has been redirected to “street infrastructure improvements; DUII training; drug rehabilitation; small business support, economic opportunity, and technical assistance for business owners from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition; record-clearing; and other efforts.

The goal of Portland’s Measure 26-180, which establishes a citywide Cannabis Program through Social Equity Grants, aims to provide “support for neighborhood small businesses, especially women-owned and minority-owned businesses, including but not limited to business incubator programs, management training, and job training opportunities; and providing economic opportunity and education to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.” In her welcome statement to agency partners, Dawson emphasized the War on Drugs against Black and Brown men, saying, “In fact, cannabis prohibition has led to Black Americans being almost four times as likely to be arrested for possession relative to our white counterparts and remains one of the top reasons for deadly police interactions in our communities.”

“I’m really excited to be supporting the work of our grant recipients and the direct impact on the communities they serve”, said Kimie Ueoka, SEED Grant Fund Coordinator. “The accountability to restorative justice built into this grant fund is a new space for government and a step in the right direction, especially now.”

Collectively, the following six organizations are working to address disproportionate need-gaps for BIPOC communities across legal services, workforce development, re-entry housing, and criminal justice reform:

  • Beyond Black CDC focuses on building community engagement, policy awareness, and social justice, including community-led discussion around cannabis policy and equity.
  • Clear Clinic, a Portland Community College program, hosts free legal clinics offering a variety of needed legal supports including civil, immigration, and housing.
  • Construction pre-Apprenticeship Program & Workforce Development, managed by Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. (POIC), offers construction-specific job skills and industry certification to lower income youth and adults.
  • Justice Involved Portlanders, an initiative of Worksystems, Inc., provides emergency housing assistance funds for individuals exiting incarceration.
  • Mink’a Program, a Latino Network initiative, provides youth and family wraparound service to address youth gang involvement.
  • Voz provides workforce development and education for communities unlikely to have access to federal emergency support programs.

The 2020 grant funds will also continue to support two 2019 grantees, Constructing Hope and Green Hop.

“The SEED grant provides critical restorative justice funding to BIPOC Portlanders,” said Commissioner-in-Charge Chloe Eudaly. “I am committed to continuing significant City investments in communities that have been disproportionally harmed by our racist drug laws. Congratulations to the 2020 SEED Grant recipients! I look forward to seeing the results of your vital community-driven efforts.”

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. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/civic/