The Portland Society, a non-profit that supports women in the bike industry and the transportation field, has announced its first crop of grant recipients.
The Portland Society Fund (which is administered by Umbrella, a 501(c)3 organization) will award Portlanders Michelle Week, Laura Koch, and Lindsay Caron Epstein. The grants — which range from $250-$500 — will go “toward education to develop their leadership and professional skills to promote vibrant, welcoming public spaces and active transportation in Portland.”
According to co-founder of The Portland Society, Elly Blue, “The applicant pool was extremely strong” and it came down to applicants that showed a strong commitment to the mission of “transforming streets into welcoming, vibrant, livable places that serve communities.”
Here’s more about each of the grantees and what they’ll do with the award (from The Portland Society):
- Michelle Week will use the grant funds to pursue her interests in sustainable retrofitting, land use segregation, and food security, as well as her belief in the power of education and a personal commitment to a sustainable lifestyle. She is involved in several areas of advocacy for active transportation in Portland. As the president of what will become a food coop grocery in Camas, Washington, she intends to also bring communities elsewhere in the region to follow the model exemplified by Portland. Michelle will use the Portland Society Fund award to continue her coursework towards a certificate through University of Oregon’s Sustainability Leadership Program.
- Laura Koch is dedicated to making bicycle transportation more accessible to underrepresented communities and communities of color in Portland. She has worked for the Community Cycling Center since 2008, is helping to shift the CCC from a community service model to a community change model. In order to continue her momentum toward collaborative advocacy, she will attend the Winning Campaigns training offered by the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking in Seattle, Washington.
- Lindsay Caron Epstein is a student at Portland State University who dedicates much of her time and her studies to promoting sustainability and active lifestyles through media. Through her work with PSU’s Institute of Sustainable Solutions, she develops creative, collaborative uses of media to spread messages of sustainability. Her award will allow her to take a course in graphic design and desktop publishing software that will directly impact her effectiveness, and that will also allow her to self-publish a zine that she has written about the experience of being a first time bike commuter.
“We are confident that these three women will all be major forces in Portland’s trajectory to becoming a world class city for active, equal transportation and community livability.”
— Elly Blue
These grants awards might be small, but The Portland Society is a grassroots group that’s just gaining momentum (this was their first ever funding cycle). On May 26th, the group will throw it’s first fundraising event with a goal of increasing the frequency and size of the grant program.
All three of the winners will be at the Benefit Gala, which will also feature a keynote speech by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown and a silent auction. The Gala is open to the entire community and is being billed as a “celebration of bicycling and entrepreneurial women.”
Blue, a writer and fledgling business owner herself, has been an activist on Portland’s bike scene for many years. She says helping women get involved is a way to make Portland a more livable city; “We are confident that these three women will all be major forces in Portland’s trajectory to becoming a world class city for active, equal transportation and community livability.”
You can purchase tickets for the Gala and learn more about The Portland Society on their website.