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Portland Children’s Levy

2023 Community Report

The third year of the pandemic marked a time of transition that required grantee partners to remain flexible and quickly adapt to changing situations.
Grantee partners often found ways to continue to engage people virtually, embraced a return to in-person programs when possible, and some also adjusted to offer services in hybrid settings. At the same time, many organizations continued to provide crucial support for basic needs like food.
The 2021-22 year came amidst a backdrop of increasing gun violence and ongoing racism that continue to challenge the community. Grantee partners worked hard to create safe settings in programs and schools that offered opportunities for children to grow, connect and learn.
The Portland Children’s Levy successfully recruited 12 members to a new Community Council that advises staff and the Allocation Committee on community engagement, policy and funding. The council began meeting in early 2023.


program grants
grant funds
Early childhood

Early childhood

Supporting children’s early development and kindergarten readiness
Hunger relief

Hunger relief

Expanding access to healthy food for children and their families
After school

After school

Supporting children’s well-being and school success
Foster care

Foster care

Supporting the well-being and development of children in foster care
Child abuse prevention & intervention

Child abuse prevention & intervention

Stabilizing families, building resilience and preventing child abuse and neglect
Community childcare initiative

Community childcare initiative

Making quality childcare affordable for working families with low incomes


Connecting children with caring mentors who support their well-being
Small grants

Small grants

Improving equity of access for organizations that have not received previous Levy funding

children served by Levy grants
lived in homes in which the primary language spoken was not English *
82nd Avenue
lived or went to school east of 82nd Avenue *
identified as Black, Indigenous and people of color *‡
pounds of food distributed at more than 50 sites
* These numbers cover early childhood, after school, child abuse prevention and intervention, mentoring, foster care and small grants funding.
‡ This number includes people who identify as Latino/x/e, African American, Native American/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Asian, Slavic, Middle Eastern, African, or multiracial.

Engaging virtual programming

Organizations continued to grow their online communities with strong participation in virtual programs, despite ongoing staffing challenges.
Educators at Hacienda Community Development Corporation piloted hosting online parent groups as a whole team of educators for the Sembrando Semillitas child development program. The program serves Latino/x/e families of children prenatal to 3-years-old who mostly live in the Cully neighborhood.
Hacienda Community Development Corporation
Erika Hernandez,
Hacienda youth and family services manager
Resilience HorizontalResilience Vertical
Children in Hacienda’s Sembrando Semillitas program attended an in-person graduation ceremony to celebrate the end of their virtual participation in the program and their entry into Head Start. Photos courtesy of Hacienda
“Families have shared that they like to see other educators in the program and that they feel part of a program and not just a client. There has also been greater collaboration amongst our team to make changes to virtual meetings that has resulted in increased attendance. Toward the end of the program year, many parents and children wanted to stay on longer to connect with other families.”

Grantee partners in child abuse prevention and intervention offer a range of services that support families to develop and work on parenting goals. Weekly online parenting classes with Self Enhancement, Inc. allowed Sharay Cooper to participate from anywhere. She started the program, which includes home visits, in November 2021 and later bonded with classmates in-person at events like Good in the Hood and the program’s graduation ceremony.
Self Enhancement, Inc. Virtual After School Program
Sharay Cooper
participant in Self Enhancement, Inc.’s parenting program
Sharay Cooper (left) appreciates the wisdom and knowledge of MaryEtta Callier-Wells (right), the child abuse prevention and intervention parenting program lead and primary educator at Self Enhancement, Inc. “Knowing that I have that moral support of what I need for my son means a lot,” Sharay says.
“I didn’t know what I was walking into, but everybody was going through the same thing as me. I didn’t want to show my face on camera at first, but everybody was very welcoming. I like in-person though. It feels good to know somebody is standing next to you. For the graduation, I was happy and invited a lot of people.”

Supporting basic needs

The rising cost of living combined with lingering impacts of the pandemic led to growing demand for hunger relief programs.
At the Urban Gleaners distribution warehouse in Southeast Portland, a small team processes about 5,000 pounds of food a day, serving more than 8,000 individuals each week. Staff distribute fresh and nonperishable food at 12 schools and parks, including culturally responsive grocery items, produce and prepared meals.
Urban Gleaners
Urban Gleaners distribution warehouse
Luca Townsend (left) sorts through bins of food donated by local grocers.
“At Mount Scott Community Center, we have 1,400 pounds of food set out on 10 to 12 tables – just a big mix. We opened the doors at noon, and it was gone in 5 minutes.”
Luca Townsend
Urban Gleaners food equity coordinator

Through the PCL grant, Our Village Gardens provides free weekly shares of garden-grown produce, community garden plots, discounts on fresh fruits and vegetables at their local market, and more to neighbors in the New Columbia community in North Portland. At the Neighborhood Celebration last summer, neighbors enjoyed free, fresh vegetables from the community garden, free food from vendors, music, and a variety of informational and fun booths.
Village Gardens
Our Village Gardens
Rachel Charley
who lives in a subsidized housing complex next to the garden
At the Our Village Gardens community celebration last summer, volunteer Winston Henry (left) explains how to prepare callaloo, a leafy green vegetable grown in the community garden behind him that was distributed for free.
“It helps you out a lot when you’re on a fixed income. I’m grateful for the free vegetables and fruit they give out. We get a lot of people out here when they have the stand out.”

Creating safe spaces

For many students, their school and community groups offer some of the most safe and stable places in their lives as they face rising violence and white supremacy.
Students at Rosemary Anderson High School face many such challenges, which can lead to anxiety and depression. Staff support students as soon as they arrive on campus, including with social and emotional development. Many students, including current and former foster youth funded through the PCL grant, also participate in workforce development programs and trainings with Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center.
Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center + Rosemary Anderson High School
Leigh Rappaport
RAHS Natural Resource Pathways program manager
Safe SpaceSafe Space
Photos courtesy of POIC
“Josh B. is a steadfast student at Rosemary Anderson and has made great strides since arriving two years ago. Josh enjoys being engaged and active. Josh applied and was accepted into our Student Crew Leader Training Program last year and are now in their second year as a crew leader. Josh co-led groups of 10-12 volunteers in tree plantings throughout Portland’s east side. They were hired as a crew member of our Green Team over the summer, working with peers in restoration projects around Portland. Josh had so many barriers to their success, now it appears that walking at graduation, and even going on to college is part of their future. Josh is someone that can always be counted on to take the lead.”

Latino Network’s Padrinos mentorship program serves 30 youth annually ages 12-18 who are impacted by or at risk for involvement in juvenile justice or are impacted by violence. Individual mentoring, community-based activities, and family engagement events are offered in Spanish and English, and many mentors come from similar cultural backgrounds as their mentees.
Latino Network
Latino Network’s Padrinos
Alejandra Galindo
Community Healing Initiative program manager and former Padrinos program manager
Alejandra Galindo (center, standing) led a Padrinos outing to Mt. Tabor Park last summer. Other destinations included Mt. Hood Skibowl and Battle Ground Lake State Park.
“My favorite part is to see them act like youth without the daily struggles they go through and to let them have exposure to new things. That’s beautiful. We understand their barriers and challenges. We work with their strengths and potential and provide culturally specific services. We’re bicultural and bilingual and make that connection with youth.”
DJ Rivas
DJ Payton-Rivas
Parkrose High School senior who has been involved with Elevate since middle school
Parkrose High School junior Vanessa Castallenos-Mederos (left) and senior DJ Payton-Rivas (right) speak on a Ninth Grade Counts panel for incoming freshmen in the Elevate Oregon program.
“(My mentor) always called. It showed he cared. It didn’t feel as lonely as some people who didn’t have mentors. They’ve always supported me and what I do.”
At Parkrose middle and high schools, Elevate Oregon provides culturally focused mentoring to 200 youth of color and other marginalized youth, including students with learning disabilities. Participants receive in-school programming five days a week during the school year, and 75 sixth through ninth graders also receive summer programming. Even during virtual school, mentors connected with students through phone calls and texts.
DJ Rivas
DJ Payton-Rivas
Parkrose High School senior who has been involved with Elevate since middle school
Parkrose High School junior Vanessa Castallenos-Mederos (left) and senior DJ Payton-Rivas (right) speak on a Ninth Grade Counts panel for incoming freshmen in the Elevate Oregon program.
“(My mentor) always called. It showed he cared. It didn’t feel as lonely as some people who didn’t have mentors. They’ve always supported me and what I do.”
“A lot of our programming is about how to be a better human, how to handle stress,” Elevate’s Director of Programs Sarah Dougherty said. “We communicate with teachers, and we also teach our kids how to advocate for themselves.”
Elevate Oregon
Parkrose middle and high schools, Elevate Oregon

Promises made, promises kept

A complete list of current grantee partners can be accessed on the Portland Children’s Levy website.

For more information, download the 2021-22 performance data slide deck and the appendix.

Stay tuned for next year’s community report to learn more about how voter investments make a difference in the lives of Portland children and families.

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