PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Portland City Council will consider the second round of grants to be funded by the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund on Thursday, April 1.
The fund was approved by city voters at the November 2018 general election. It was placed on the ballot by an initiative petition campaign led by community activists. It imposes a 1% surcharge on the retail sales within Portland of large retailers. The money it raises is intended to both fight climate change and benefit communities of color.
“The Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) is a beacon and testament in our community’s belief in doing things a different way. PCEF centers and elevates climate leadership and climate solutions from our communities that bear the greatest impacts of climate change: communities of color and people with low incomes. As the first ever climate fund in the U.S. that was created and led by communities of color, it is a model for advancing climate action, and racial and social justice by leveraging the innovation, grit, and ingenuity within our communities,” reads a first-year report on the program to the council.
The first round of $200,000 in grant to 40 organizations was approved in August 2020. The 45 grant requests to be considered Thursday totals $8,635,400. That is only a small fraction of the $41 million to $60 million expected to be collected every year.
They requests were recommended by a nine-member volunteer PCEF Committee that reviewed applications from nonprofit organizations. The committee is expected to recommend more requests in the next fiscal year that starts on July 1.
Most of the recommended grants — 29 — are for planning purposes. The remaining 15 are for projects that are focused on clean energy, green infrastructure and workforce development. The requests range from energy upgrades for Black homeowners to a Black-led apprenticeship program in Northeast Portland and support for an organic garden.
All projects must be based in Portland. The approved applicants are required to track and report their expenditures back to PCEF every six months.
The committee is also recommending the creation of a $200,000 grant contingency fund and the establishment of a $400,000 mini-grants program, bringing the total request to $9,235,400.
According to the Impact Statement that accompanies the ordinance, “More than 85 percent of funds will go to organizations that reflect and serve priority populations identified in the PCEF program and nearly 40 percent of funds will be directed to small or emerging organizations. Many of the recommended grants’ project beneficiaries are in populations hit hardest by climate change, face disparities in income and education, have disproportionate negative health outcomes and have largely been left out of past programs building the clean energy economy.”
The ordinance with additional details can be found here.
A previous Portland Tribune story on the program can be found here.