The Portland Parks Foundation (PPF) has a Small Grants Program to award financial support to community-based organizations within the city that foster equitable access to our urban parks, natural areas, community gardens and community recreation centers. Founded via a generous bequest from Nancy Hebb Freeman, an artist, hiker and lover of Portland parks, the grants program accepts applications twice a year–in the spring and in the fall–for $2,000 grants. The spring cycle is currently open with applications due by Saturday, April 15.
PPF’s motto is “We help people help parks” because they know that the city’s parks support so many of our personal and community needs. Parks can improve mental and physical health, serve critical green infrastructure functions, contribute to economic development, act as links in transportation networks, host cultural and social activities and help give communities a sense of place.
Even with all the benefits that parks offer, many residents lack equal access to parks that feel safe and welcoming. People may struggle to find well-maintained parks that are designed and programmed to meet their particular needs. The Small Grants Program works to fill those gaps by supporting people and organizations in making improvements that will improve our parks. Priority is given to organizations supporting low-income populations, communities of color and other historically marginalized groups.
Community-based/grassroots organizations who care for or provide programming in public parks, nature spaces, community gardens or community centers are eligible if they are also located within the city of Portland; are a 501(c)(3) organization or are a non-501(c)(3) organization applying with a fiscal sponsor; and have not received a PPF Small Grant within the last 12 months. Organizations in need of a fiscal sponsor can contact PPF for assistance in finding one.
Examples of projects PPF considers include, but are not limited to, PP&R permitted collaborative events in parks; virtual engagement that builds relationships for multi-generational, multicultural Portland residents with natural spaces and parks; community gardens support; and community-based TLC, such as seasonal clean-ups or plant care. For projects that require approval or permits from PP&R or other government agencies, documentation of the approval must accompany an application.
All applications must include the application form; a list of project or organization leaders along with their email and phone contacts; 501(c)(3) tax determination letter or documentation of fiscal sponsorship; and a short letter (two pages or less). The letter shall address the organization’s mission; how the grant will help the organization or proposed project; how the organization or project aligns with PPF’s mission; and current partnerships, collaborations or communities being worked with.
There are two types of support that can be applied for–general operating support and project specific support. General operating support (unrestricted funding) is for organizations that are clearly aligned with PPF’s equity mission. Project specific support is for eligible programming that will take place within 12 months of receiving the grant. Project support applicants are also required to provide a timeline for completion and a project budget with their application.
The best way to apply is using PPF’s online application, found at portlandpf.org/grants-program. The application can also be emailed to Jessica Green, Operations & Program Director, at email@example.com. Award decisions will be announced within eight weeks after the April 15 deadline, with funded programs to be completed within 12 months of award notification.