SE Uplift's 6 Month Report: COVID-19 Didn't Stop Us
Below you can read about all of our accomplishments from Janurary – July 2020. There were many highs even in the middle of a pandemic!
Project Summary: This project is the operation of the SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition, one of the City of Portland’s seven district coalition offices supporting 95 neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon. Grant funds cover six staff positions and all operating expenses of the organization.
Successes: Over the last six months, SE Uplift has benefited from having strong organizational leadership which consists of our new Executive Director and a strong Executive Committee which is helping SE Uplift better meet our goals and position the organization for future funding and structural change.
SE Uplift has been able to modify the way we do our work to accommodate our new virtual and physically distanced reality. SE Uplift has been able to continue to connect and partner with local communities of identity and geography, as well as city government, to address our mission of collaborating with the SE Portland community to build informed, inclusive, and participatory neighborhoods that support our social and ecological well-being. Successes featured in the narrative portion of this report include the coalition-wide COVID-19 resource magazine mailed to every resident in SE Portland, new cycle of community small grants, including supporting the East Portland small grant program, completion of internal diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) documents that will further our DEIA efforts.
Challenges: Over the past six months SE Uplift has had several significant challenges. One of the biggest challenges was implementing our mission during the current health crisis and social distancing requirements. Working from home and holding all our meetings and community outreach online has taking time away from being more strategic as an organization. Further, SE Uplift has continued to be challenged by deep conflict and divisive neighborhood dynamics and lament the toll this takes on well-intentioned community volunteers. Our organization is also concerned how these unhealthy dynamics deplete vital resources of community volunteering, destroy positive and constructive community momentum, use disproportionate hours of SEUL staff time, and ultimately perpetuate inequities in SEUL and City services by preventing pro-active work in other much-needed areas.
Project Narrative SE Uplift Overview
Featured Work this period includes:
- SEUplift’s COVID-19 response
- CommunityCollection Events (CCE) Funding Reallocation to COVID Micro-Grants
- Small Grantspartnership with the East Portland Community Office(EPCO)
- Diversity Equity, Inclusion and AccessibilityWorkgroup and Outputs
- Key Partnerships This Period
- Changing the Way we Serve our Community –Events
- CommunicationGrants – A New Grant Program
- Neighborhood Association Election Support
- Hawthorne Paint and Pave
- Furthering Democracy
SE Uplift Overview
SE Uplift (SEUL) is part of the city-wide district coalition system, a coalition of a geographic region of 20 neighborhoods in SE Portland. The mission of SE Uplift is to collaborate with the SE Portland community to build informed, inclusive, and participatory neighborhoods that support our social and ecological well-being. Originally a government field office, SE Uplift has been a City of Portland district coalition since 1974. Annual funding from the City of Portland Office of Community and Civic Life has been ongoing since that time in a mutually beneficial relationship where the nonprofit coalition is contracted to provide vital services that contribute to the City’s functioning at a cost much lower than the equivalent services provided directly by the City. The grant requirements contain specific deliverables which are described at the end of this report.
SE Uplift is able to implement our Civic Life contract obligations in many ways consistent with how it has met requirements in previous years, however SE Uplift is additionally addressing our own organization-wide goals as follows:
Goal #1: Increase the number of meaningful partnerships with SE Portland community groups that have been historically marginalized and underrepresented in city decision making through strategic outreach and equitable programming.
Goal #2: Increase SE Uplift supports to neighborhood associations in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Please note that the narrative section of this report contains hyperlinks to SEUL newsletter, webpages, documents, video, and other media.
SE Uplift Welcomes a New Executive Director
After a robust hiring process which involved participation from staff and SE Uplift board members, SE Uplift welcomed Leroy Eadie as our new Executive Director in January. Leroy Eadie comes to us with over 25 years of progressive leadership and professional experience in local government. He also has a background in Urban Planning having studied and received his B.A. Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Washington University and worked as a City Planner in several roles for 14 years including a position as the City of Spokane Neighborhood Planning Manager. For more on Leroy’s qualifications and experience, go to our newsletter here.
It was important to the hiring team that SE Uplift hire a strong multi-disciplinary leader that can work with a variety of constituents and help our organization move effectively through inevitable change. We also needed a leader that had not only had a robust professional portfolio, but also varied lived experience in order to help our organization meet the goals we have outlined above and lead our small but diverse team.
Leroy is a member of Colville Confederated Tribes and is a U.S. Military Veteran that served in Operation Desert Storm. He has a vibrant and impressive list of volunteer service as the Spokane Park Board Secretary, Eastern Washington University Foundation Board Member, Inland Empire American Planning Association Board Member and as a City of Spokane Managers and Professional Association Board Member.
Featured Work of SE Uplift: January 1st - June 30th 2020
SE Uplift’s COVID-19 Response
SE Uplift took a leading role in the coalitions’ COVID-19 response. We closed our offices on March 13th and have been working remotely since.
SE Uplift partnered with Portland’s seven District Coalition Offices to respond to the unique needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We all combined our intellectual resources to produce and distribute a multilingual resource guide in 4 languages to households in Portland.
SE Uplift also created a custom COVID-19 webpage to share the latest information and to connect our partners and community members with each other. For additional information on our initial response, see Office of Community and Civic Life’s Resilient PDX Update here
You can visit our webpage and the resources we are sharing here: https://www.seuplift.org/se-uplift-covid-19/
Community Collection Events (CCE) Funding Reallocation to COVID Micro-Grants
The CCE Program, formerly the Neighborhood Cleanup Program, dedicated the remainder of our annual grant funds from Bureau of Planning & Sustainability to support programming, relief, and logistical efforts that address immediate need in communities that are most vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19. The funds prioritized small projects and relief efforts in the homeless and housing vulnerable populations, immigrant and refugee communities, youth, LGBTQIA+, elders and people with disabilities during the coronavirus crisis.
SE Uplift awarded 17 small community based COVID relief projects with funds ranging from $250 to $1,000.
Ameera Saahir Studio, Every Child Is an Artist: Kid art care packages for virtual gallery tenants living in Rose CDC’s 72 apartment units at Firland and Marysville in Foster-Powell.
City Repair Project VBC20: Village Building Convergence-VBC20: City Repair facilitates artistic and ecologically oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world.
Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association- Dinners for Shelters: FPNA is providing meals for neighbors who are staying in the 2 shelters currently in Foster-Powell
Friends of Noise- YOUTH Power PDX: A youth-led month long + multi-platform event called Speak up, Sing Out. FON will purchase a digital equipment and updates to website for their streaming events.
Ground Score Association: General support to continue creative litter pickups, recycling efforts, and support for canners.
HOMEpdx- COVID Related Direct Services: Support unhoused neighbors with the gear they need to stay in one place for a longer period to help slow the spread of the disease.
Linnea Hoffman- Youth Scientist Kits: This project will provide seeds, compost ingredients in compostable containers with a printed quarter sheet for kids about how to graden and investigate in Mt. Scott-Arleta.
Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association- Arleta Triangle Safety Hub: This hub will provide information, respite, and personal protective and hygiene supplies (sanitizers, soaps, masks, etc) at the existing the Arleta Triangle.
Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association: General support for neighborhood communications during the current pandemic.
Friends of Portland Community Gardens Food Pantry Share: 31 community gardens are actively involved in growing and donating produce weekly to approximately 24 food pantries.
Portland Mask Project: The Mask Project provides free reusable fabric masks to the general public, including making 400 masks for TriMet employees and 100 masks for a Unitarian immigrant action project. They also fill requests made to the City Office of Community and Civic Life’s Disability Program.
Right 2 Survive, COVID Resources for Houseless Communities: Create and distribute COVID related printed materials, meals, and safety support in houseless communities across Portland.
Sack Lunch Bunch Project: Supporting all neighbors in need with 60 sack lunches everyday with BEACONpdx and distributing them at 1:00pm at Sunnyside School Park.
Social Justice Action Center – Direct Service Projects & Programming: Programs include food sharing, food preparation and food distribution for houseless, low income, and other marginalized communities.
Symbiosis PDX Mutual Aid Project: Symbiosis’ SHaRE supported mutual aid efforts (face masks, hand sanitizer, household cleaners, disinfectant wipes, refillable water bottles) to the Yakama Nation and Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, who were particularly hard hit by the coronavirus crisis. SHaRe also stepped up to provide prepared meals and sack lunches during its open hours to houseless neighbors who were negatively impacted by the closure of nearby St. Francis Dining Hall. Symbiosis also provided print instructions on how to properly wear face masks and coronavirus prevention flyers, street medic wellness and mutual aid ‘zines that were included in the care packages, as well as instructions on how to care for the yarrow and chamomile starts that were available at the SHaRe Hub.
Taborvilla NET Project- Emergency Preparedness: Covid and Beyond: Foot pump hand washing stations and fliers with insert invitation to potlucks and tours. Connecting Mt. Tabor and Montavilla with emergency services.
VOZ-Workers Rights Program: General support and COVID outreach for day laborers and VOZ communities.
Community & Civic Engagement Small Grants & Partnership with East Portland Community Office (EPCO )
SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition awarded $27,165.00 in Community & Civic Engagement Small Grants to over 17 community projects for 2020 and additional funding for 6 East Portland projects through a new grant partnership with EPCO.
Now in its 13th year, the Community & Civic Engagement Small Grants program funds small but powerful community efforts aimed at increasing the number and diversity of people engaged in the community, strengthening community capacity to create social change, and increasing community impact on public decisions and community life.
With 37 grant applicants, our Small Grants Review Committee – Amy Bader, Lindsey Johnson, Nancy Oberschmidt, Jamie Nash, Dan Shramek and Kari Koch– made careful considerations and funding recommendations. We were happy to fund 17 projects, as well as select an additional 6 project proposals for funding with our partner Neighborhood Coalition, the East Portland Community Office.
For a full list 2020 SE Uplift’s Community & Civic Engagement Small Grant Recipients, click here!
Communities have changed the format of how they do their work due to COVID-19 and this is especially true with one of our 2020 grantees, Friends of Noise’s Youth Power PDX project. To continue working on their grant project, Friends of Noise teamed up with The City Repair Project to support creative youth and youth activist to help them be seen and heard despite the social distancing due to the pandemic. Youth Power PDX is a collective of youth artists and activist that are claiming space for themselves and their intersectional community building. Ichor Studios was and continues to be instrumental in developing an incredible website that is serving as a hub for their voices and content. Youth Power PDX turned into a month-long online space for young people to hold podcasts, live music shows, and host forums.
Communications Grants: New Grant Program
In January 2019, SE Uplift revamped the communications grants program. The goal of the program is to make Southeast community organizations’ communications strategies accessible to the broad and diverse SE Community with effective and accessible outreach. Historically, neighborhood associations have had the opportunity to receive a total $20,000 to put towards their communications needs.
Update on the program: Over the past couple of fiscal years (2017-2018, 2018-2019) the communications funds have failed to be spent in totality. Some Neighborhood Associations have expressed a need for more funds than they have been allocated and SE Uplift’s other stakeholders, (non-neighborhood association community groups) have not had any access to these funds. These are the reasons that SE Uplift has decided to create an opportunity for all groups to apply for funding to increase outreach capacity.
As of this fiscal year (October 2019- September 2020), communications funds are now available to all community organizations including but not limited to neighborhood associations serving the Southeast Portland community via a small competitive grant process. This year we are awarding grants of up to $1000.
It is important to note that Neighborhood Associations are still receiving the majority of total communications funds. We hope this will create an opportunity to continue the thoughtful work our neighborhoods have been doing.
Neighborhood Associations that have used all of their allotted funding from the previous fiscal year (October 2018-September 2019) will receive their full communications funds amount. Your liaison will submit your communications funds packet to you as early as the week of December 2nd. In that packet will be a proposal that must be filled out, approved by the board, and submitted to SE Uplift before applying for any reimbursements from your allotted funds. Services and projects that are liable for reimbursement are projects such as: flyer printing, website hosting, banners, newsletters, and translation services.
Other neighborhood associations that did not get the chance to use all of their allotted funding will receive either a partial amount of their past funding or no funding (these details will also be found in your communications grant packet from your liaison). However, all neighborhood associations will have the opportunity to apply to and receive a grant to fund their communications projects for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. This creates opportunity for Neighborhoods and non-neighborhood groups to have meaningful projects to increase outreach and communication to their community.
Communications Grant Recipients:
- Inner Southeast Action: For general communications. ISEA’s projects have been primarily the Safer Series, which focuses on partnerships in the community to target critical streets in the inner southeast for all to enjoy. Lincoln and Hawthorne or the two primary streets we are working on into 2020. They identified the major barriers of costs involved in outreach to the community in the form of mailers, website maintenance, flyers, posters, and lawn signs. A communication grant has helped them produce these communications materials.
- Southeast Portland Tool Library: Southeast Portland Tool Library has been a community resource for more than 5 years and needed resources to increase community member engagement and volunteer support by building our capacity to contact members through email. Their communications grant will improve capacity to engage new members at volunteer events through improved signage and printed media.
- Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO): Received a communications grant to increase accessibility and strengthen the organizations relationships with the diverse residents of Orchards of 82nd. These funds will be used to invest in translation for our fliers and other communications for our cultural and place-based programming.
- Milagro Theatre Group: Milagro Theater Group is a Latinx SE Theater based 501 c 3 and received funds for the creation of promotional material to engage community members in free events thematically related to the theatre’s productions or featuring local Latinx artists. These funds support their Community Artes Program which attracts a diverse population due to its accessibility and the scarcity of events available for diverse audiences. Community Artes programming in the past three fiscal years has averaged 95% Latino participation.
- Portland Through a Latinx Lens: This grant was issued to help hire a local Latinx artist who can help us create a design(s) for promotional materials that we can give away at events. Instead of putting a plain logo on a shirt, we want to create items that people will want and be excited about. These funds will go to paying for the cost of production.
- Creston-Kenilworth Neighborhood Association: This grant was issued to fund outreach for CKNA’s annual fundraiser that pays for their 2 free neighborhood-wide community-building events: Movies in the Park, and Neighborhood Picnic. This was a reimbursement for the previous year’s outreach.
Key Partnership Support this Period:Right2Survive, Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT), Black Resilience Fund (BRF)
SE Uplift is continuing to build a deeper partnership with unhoused neighbors and supporting organizations working directed with our neighbors experiencing houselessness. Since March, the pandemic has made support in houseless communities more difficult and people without stable shelter do not have access to basic resources like spaces to wash hands or find masks. SE Uplift stepped in to do printing COVID Safety for unhoused neighbors’ brochures, provided a CCE grant to support capacity for the Stop The Sweeps hotline, and currently advocating for organizations responding to hate directed toward people sleeping outside with the help of Portland United Against Hate’s reporting tool.
Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT)
The Neighborhood Planning Program Manager continued to provide on-going support to Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT), a renter’s rights organization, even after COVID-19 shut down normal operations. SE Uplift provided additional capacity to this essential organization by supporting two online virtual trainings in May and June focused on new protections around screening criteria and security deposits that went into effect March 1st along with information about the pause on evictions due to COVID-19. A lot of work was put into ensuring these zoom trainings were accessible to all community member, interactive, and secure. Additionally, SE Uplift continues to support CAT weekly with their hotline response remotely.
Black Resilience Fund (BRF)
The Black Resilience Fund (BRF) is an emergency fund dedicated to healing and resilience by providing immediate resources to Black Portlanders. In supporting Black Portlander’s in a hands-on approach, SE Uplift began providing capacity support to the Black Resilience Fund in June 2020. SE Uplift staff Mireaya Medina and Christina Estime are volunteer Intakers for the fund and are helping BRF get through a long list of over 10,000 Black Portlander’s in need and requesting resources. These photos are from a meeting on Alberta Street with Senator Ron Wyden giving his support to the Black Resilience Fund.
DEIA Workgroup & Completed DEIA Documents
SE Uplift’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) workgroup met regularly and worked hard over the last six months to complete a number of DEIA documents in time for the onboarding of our new SEUL board members and new Neighborhood Association board members joining our organization this spring. The workgroup consists of SEUL staff, the new Executive Director (joined upon arrival), the executive committee, and human rights activist and Consultant, Cliff Jones. The workgroup completed the following outputs this reporting period:
1) DEIA Statement which acknowledges the harm that historical practices and policies have produced systemic inequities for under-represented, disenfranchised and marginalized communities that resulted in harmful and unfair outcomes and SEUL’s commitments to correct that.
2) DEIA Code of Ethics is a set of principles designed to create a shared understanding with all staff, volunteers, recipients of grants or services and board members on how to conduct themselves and the values we stand for when working or partnering with SE Uplift. All staff, board members, volunteers, and recipients of funding and services must read and acknowledge this DEIA Code of Ethics. It’s also a tool SE Uplift can use to hold partners accountable for their conduct related to diversity, equity, inclusion and access.
3) Equity Lens which is a tool SEUL staff and board volunteers will use to evaluate decisions, activities and programming moving forward.
These documents will allow our organization to better serve everyone in our community and ensure we create space and opportunity for everyone our community. The documents will go to the SE Uplift Board July 6th 2020 for their adoption. Staff will begin to implement the documents and continue to move the DEIA work forward through trainings, in our systems and structure, and programming.
The DEIA workgroup and documents compliment the work SE Uplift staff has been doing for years to modify our programming to serve historically underserved populations within our coalition area, and partner and support more diverse groups and community members in our coalition area.
Update: these documents have been approved by the board of SE Uplift.
Changing the Way we Serve our Community (Earth Week & Safety Week)
Early March, when COVID-19 began to present itself as a serious threat, SE Uplift responded by canceling in-person events and gatherings, along with sending staff home to work. Early April, when it was clear the pandemic would continue for some time, SE Uplift began to brainstorm how to support our community through this challenging time, along with how to continue to share information, convene people around relevant community topics, and build community together while staying apart. Starting in April, SE Uplift began to re-convene regular meetings like the SEUL Board meeting and our monthly Land Use and Transportation Committee Meeting virtually with some tweaks. SE Uplift also began collaborating with the other Coalition offices to create a COVID-19 resource guide and create a COVID-19 resource page on our own website.
Moreover, staff devised a way to keep people connected by hosting several virtual engagement opportunities in April and May. In April for Earth Day, SE Uplift went above and beyond our usual one-day earth day activities by collaborating with community partners to host an interactive virtual earth week. Starting Monday, April 20th through Friday, April 24th we shared daily environmental informational resources and provided interactive activities on waste-related topics, reuse tips, litter pick-ups, and other activities like how to create bee habitat! Participants were encouraged to post responses and activities on our social media sites. Additionally, we hosted 5 livestream events including our LUTC which focused on environmental advocacy actions and policy and a special presentation from the Oregon Environmental Council and topics from partners like City Repair and others. Click here for the full calendar of activities and livestreamed events
Earth week was our first-time engaging community in a completely virtual way. We strived to provide a number of opportunities for people to engage to meet the diverse community we serve. Because it went so well, in May we leveraged other city-wide efforts around safety and emergency preparedness to host a similar virtual week called “Stay Home. Stay Safe.”. SE Uplift staff built a webpage and focused on educating and engaging community around safety, emergency preparedness, and reporting hate. To do this, we partnered with the Office of Community and Civic Life’s (OCCL) Community Safety East Portland Team to host four virtual trainings and one additional conversation lead by Portland United Against Hate (PUAH). The lives virtual events were paired with online resources and activities throughout the week.
Earth week was our first-time engaging community in a completely virtual way. We strived to provide a number of opportunities for people to engage to meet the diverse community we serve. Because it went so well, in May we leveraged other city-wide efforts around safety and emergency preparedness to host a similar virtual week called “Stay Home. Stay Safe.”. SE Uplift staff built a webpage and focused on educating and engaging community around safety, emergency preparedness, and reporting hate. To do this, we partnered with the Office of Community and Civic Life’s (OCCL) Community Safety East Portland Team to host four virtual trainings and one additional conversation lead by Portland United Against Hate (PUAH). The lives virtual events were paired with online resources and activities throughout the week
Neighborhood Association Election Support
April through June 2020 SE Uplift staff provided our 20 Neighborhood Associations with ongoing recommendations and technical assistance on how to host safe and transparent elections compliant, to the best of our ability, to their bylaws, ONI Standards, and state law. Information was developed and provided on a newly created elections webpageand through one-on-one technical assistance with Neighborhood Associations boards and leadership. SE Uplift staff vetted process and technology recommendations through the Office of Community and Civic Life (OCCL) and the SE Uplift Board. SE Uplift also provided financial and in-kind support for online platforms like Zoom, google forms, others to allow Neighborhood Associations to continue to meet virtually during this time and host elections in an open and transparent way.
Hawthorne Pave & Paint Open House (Leah)
In February SE Uplift was approached by Inner Southeast Action (ISEA), a local group of neighbors with a similar mission, to co-host an open house with PBOT, and local organizations SE Uplift, Oregon Walks, and ISEA for the Hawthorne Pave and Paint project which would greatly impact the community surrounding inner Hawthorne, but also the larger coalition area and beyond. SE Uplift Neighborhood Planning Program Manager, Leah Fisher, had been collaborating with PBOT since the new year to share information and collect community feedback about this project. The project had already been hosted at the February Land Use & Transportation Committee. However, given the proximity and importance of the project, SE Uplift was happy to support larger scale community outreach by providing space and staff support at the 3 hour open house held Saturday March 7th.
The event provided a youth activity for parents with children, a number of interactive mapping and data collection activities and many staff and volunteers available to answer questions about the project. The event had approximately 100 attendees over the 3 hours and was the last in-person event hosted in our space before we had to shut down due to COVID-19.
Over the last 6 months SE Uplift have been heavily promoting the 2020 Census count via articles in our monthly E-news, social media posts, and by supporting the #WeCountOregon, a campaign that is a community-led effort to ensure that hard to count communities, including people of color, immigrants, renters, rural communities, and parents of children under 5 – understand and take the 2020 Census. SE Uplift hosted a total of 6 events, including a February 2020 Census event in our space to recruit census workers and provide a space with internet for folks to complete the census if needed.
We hosted 5 Census 2020 events in our building, with 3 of those dates being open office drop-in hours for Census jobs support, applications, and information. We also doubled up on Census outreach for our event Dessert Meet & Greet with Leroy Eadie event was a wonderful space for community open hours, giving space for neighbors to meet our new Executive Director and talk to program staff. We welcomed 25-30 folks into our valentine-filled building for cakes, pies, cupcakes, networking, and Census drop-in hours.
On April 9th, 2020 SE Uplift held the first public virtual Census 2020 info session in Multnomah County. The virtual event was attended by 25 community members and Census staff. Through our work with the Census staff from February through June, we were able to help 12 neighbors attain employment and engage over 100 members of our communities. Here’s a quote from our Census community partner Scott Moshier, “We heard from our (Census) office folks that SE Uplift was one of top locations for great applicants! We’ve just met our goals in the last day or so (county-wide), so we’re doing well.”
SE Uplift was potentially providing space for the new employee training for new Census staff prior to the pandemic.