August 31, 2022

An Ode to Black Joy

Violinists play at a Portland vigil in 2020 honoring the life of Elijah McClain.

Justice Oregon for Black Lives was born from the depths of overwhelming heartbreak — a response to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and multiple other overlapping traumas that fueled a growing movement to end systemic and structural racism. The initiative also recognized the urgency and opportunity we had to transform institutions, systems and narratives in Oregon, a state founded on stolen lands and explicit in its constitutional exclusion of Black people.

As we began developing a set of funding priorities in conversation with community advisors across the state, issues of public safety, education and economic justice were clearly top-of-mind. We also heard about two other important priorities that Meyer had less experience in funding — efforts to promote healing and to increase Black joy. 

In February, we announced our first round of awards from the inaugural Call for Proposals that addressed the first three priorities — Reimagining Public safety, Investing in Education and Economic Justice.

Now, it gives me great pleasure to share the names of the organizations that will be doing the equally important work of Addressing Trauma and Healing and Shifting Black Narrative through Arts and Culture.

I want to emphasize equally important because it truly is. We cannot rise out of the depths of a collective trauma without also committing to the work needed to restore and reclaim our souls and our stories. 

Our team has been truly heartened by all the different ways that grantees have addressed these outcomes in their applications and we cannot wait to see the lift in hearts and spirits that this work will inspire. We also want to express our gratitude for the patience of these organizations, some of whom have waited a year for funding as we balanced our desire for urgency with our responsibility to design a community-informed, fair and clear process. 

A few highlights of the awards:

Black Art/ists Gathering will realize their vision of increasing Black joy as they host an intergenerational convening of Black artists.

Bridge-Pamoja will have resources to promote healing practice to mend cultural rifts between African and African-American communities in Oregon.

The Community Doula Alliance will support Black doulas in practicing their cultural and traditional birth and postpartum models of care. 

What could be more joyful than a brand new baby coming into this world, surrounded by love and caring? It’s our hope and our future. 

In all, nearly $1.9 million will go to 17 organizations, including eight first-time awardees and four organizations that work outside of the Portland Metro area. We are excited to partner with so many new organizations — to connect with you and to connect you with one another, for an even more powerful and enduring impact on our incredible community.

A full list of awardees is below.

All Ages Music Portland — Black Art/ists Gathering — 1st time awardee

All Ages Music Portland

Bridge-Pamoja1st time awardee

Columbia Slough Watershed CouncilPeople of Color Outdoors

Communities United for People —  Freedom to Thrive

Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center

Portland Art Museum

The Numberz1st time awardee

Allen Temple CME Church1st time awardee

Cerimon (Alberta) House1st time awardee

Community Doula Alliance1st time awardee

North by Northeast Community Health Center

Oregon Black Pioneers Corporation

Portland Community Media-Open Signal + Lion Speaks

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art- Black Artist Ecology Project — 1st time awardee

T & A Grand Theater1st time awardee

World Stage Theatre

Though August has been designated Black Philanthropy Month, we recognize that this work is ongoing and requires sustained commitment to thrive. 

In that spirit, I want to note that our 2022 Call for Proposals is now live. One key thing to know is that we are accepting applications for all five community-identified priorities in this round. In response to feedback from our community, we have also extended the window for submitting an application from four to six weeks and will continue to accept applications prepared for other funders, as well as video applications as an alternative to written narratives. More information and resources can be found here

Intentionally funding Black joy is just one step on a long road to true liberation. As we move forward together, let’s make this path a well-worn one. 

With gratitude, 

— Allister