The five urban renewal areas around the city will each receive community livability grants

The Chinatown Gate will soon be fully restored, the Allen Temple Church Fellowship Hall will be rebuilt and Gateway will get a new community kitchen — these are just a few projects on the docket of the recently funded by Community Liveability Grants from Prosper Portland.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: FILE PHOTO - The Lan Su Chinese Garden in Chinatown won $50,000 in community liveability grants to compelte ADA upgrades.

Prosper Portland announced the recipients of the Community Livability Grants for fiscal year 2017-18 on Nov. 20, which will help fund 21 projects across five urban renewal areas (URAs).

The grants total $1.7 million, and the winning projects are expected to leverage another $11 million in private investment funds and volunteer hours.

To choose the winners evaluation committees for each area met, including representatives from community organizations, neighborhood and business associations, nonprofits, individual business owners and Prosper Portland staff.

The recipients include seven projects in Interstate, four in Gateway, four in Lents, three in Central Eastside and three in Old Town Chinatown.

Since 2006, Prosper Portland has awarded more than $8 million to more than 150 community livability projects across multiple urban renewal areas. The Community Livability Grants prioritize projects that improve access to jobs and workforce development services, support wealth creation opportunities for small business owners, honor and enhance each neighborhood's cultural diversity and history, deliver a community asset tailored to the community, and advance the goals of each neighborhood's action plan.Branam

"We're very pleased to see growing interest and familiarity with the Community Livability Grant program as a vital tool to help organizations fulfill neighborhood action plans and better serve diverse populations throughout the city," said Kimberly Branam, executive director of Prosper Portland.

The projects on the list honor local culture and history, support expansion of workforce service facilities and improve community centers and services.

Grant recipients

The Interstate Corridor URA identified seven projects its funding will go toward: rebuilding the Allen Temple Church's fellowship hall for more ADA-friendly community space ($280,000), a kitchen upgrade to Billy Webb Elks Lodge ($129,000), acoustic improvements for the BRAVO Youth Orchestras ($16,000), expanding a pre-apprenticeship workforce development training facility for Constructing Hope ($300,000), roof replacements for the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church ($42,500), storefront improvements to Portland Miracle Revival Church's Restoration Outreach Community Center for its social services ($38,000) and an interior renovation for the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church ($32,500).

"Over the past three years, Constructing Hope has exceeded expectations by training 173 individuals, then placing and sustaining 119 students from marginalized communities into wealth-building construction apprenticeship careers. Grant proceeds will be used to expand our facilities; allowing us to double that number," said Pat Daniels, executive director of Constructing Hope. "How honored we are to partner with Prosper Portland in pursuit of our joint mission to support the prosperity of all Portlanders."PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: FILE PHOTO - The iconic Chinatown Gate, shown here on Chinese New Year, won $100,000 toward the second phase of its restoration.

The Gatway Regional Center URA has four winning projects: building a new community kitchen for Our Giving Table ($25,000 and a conditional $121,240), installing a trash can, bench and info kiosk by Friends of Floyd Light Park ($8,500 conditionally), placemaking and transit center placemaking amenities at in South Gateway (conditional awards of $69,000 and $8,500) and facade upgrades of the MakerSpace and warehouse at the Dancing Tree Family Center to Impact NW ($25,000).

"We're very excited about the grant and the improvements it will facilitate, allowing us to create a safer and clearer environment in providing youth career readiness training," said Aaron Bouchane, career opportunities, readiness and exploration program manager for Impact NW.

The Central Eastside URA has three projects in the mix: $32,000 is going to CODA, Inc to construct a dedicated community training room, $50,000 to Miracle Theater Group for improvements to its main gathering and event space, and $35,000 to New Expressive Works for capital improvements that include ADA accessibility.

As for the Lents Town Center URA, there are four: $75,000 to the Kelly School PTA to expand its community grounds and add playground and picnic items, $125,000 to Leach Garden Friends for upper garden improvements including an aerial tree walk, $125,000 to REAP for its new headquarters renovation, and $40,000 to the Wisdom of Elders to expand its workforce training in environmental assessment and habitat restoration.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: FILE PHOTO - The Billy Elks Lodge in Northeast Portland was awarded $129,000 for kitchen upgrades.

Lastly, Old Town Chinatown has three: $50,000 to the Lan Su Chinese Garden to complete ADA upgrades, $100,000 to the Old Town Chinatown Community Association for the second phase of restoring the Chinatown Gate, and $50,000 to the Portland Chinatown History Foundation to support development of the Portland Chinatown History Museum.

Successful grant applicants are required to make a good faith effort to contract with Oregon-certified minority-owned, woman-owned, disadvantaged or emerging small businesses (M/W/D/ESBs). Prosper Portland staff will work with this year's awardees to identify potential M/W/D/ESB contractors for project work.

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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