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Kids enjoy the Free Lunch + Play program at an East Portland apartment complex in 2018 (photo courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation)
By The Skanner News
Published: 07 November 2019

PORTLAND, ORE. – Bank of America has named Financial Beginnings Oregon and Portland Parks Foundation as its 2019 Neighborhood Builders winners. The nonprofits are being recognized for providing essential services that benefit the Portland-area community and promote economic and social progress.

Through the Neighborhood Builders program, each nonprofit receives $200,000 in flexible funding, a year of leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader at the organization, a network of peer organizations across the country and volunteering support from BofA.

“We recognize the critical role that local nonprofits play to build pathways to economic progress in the Portland community. Through Neighborhood Builders, we connect nonprofits like Financial Beginnings Oregon and the Portland Parks Foundation to the funding and leadership development resources they need to further scale their impact,” said Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America’s Market President in Oregon and Southwest Washington. “Both of these nonprofits do extraordinary work, so I am pleased we are able to bring forward this additional support at a particularly strategic time for them.”

Financial Empowerment Fellowship

Financial Beginnings Oregon will use their award to establish the “Bank of America Financial Empowerment Fellowship.” With Bank of America’s funds, they will recruit and train a cohort of diverse student leaders each year to serve as Fellows. Fellows will receive leadership and skills training, and will then bring financial education programs back into their own communities. Overall, the organization anticipates the Fellows will provide free financial education to an additional 5,000 Oregonians each year.

“The $200,000 investment will help us reach more Oregonians with critical financial literacy training,” said Kate Benedict, Executive Director of Financial Beginnings Oregon. “We know that communities learn best from a member of their own community. The Bank of America Financial Empowerment Fellowship is our chance to make sure Portland-area communities attain valuable financial teachings from their own student leaders. This program will help us reach significantly more Oregonians than ever with life-changing, free financial education programs.”

Summer Free For All Lunch + Play Program

portland nonprofit grants medPortland Parks Foundation and Portland Parks & Recreation staff, including PP&R Director Adena Long (center) accepted the grant with Parks Commissioner Nick Fish (checkered shirt). The Bank of America grant will allow the Bureau's Mobile Lunch + Play program to expand significantly. (photo courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation)The Portland Parks Foundation — Portland Parks & Recreation’s (PP&R) nonprofit fundraising partner — will use the funding to significantly expand PP&R’s Summer Free For All Lunch + Play program, which brings free, healthy meals to parks in communities where 50 percent or more of kids under 18 are eligible for free-and-reduced lunches. The program serves as a nutritional bridge during the summer months for kids who rely on school lunches. Additionally, the Neighborhood Builders investment will enable the purchase and design of customized vehicles to deliver needed community services via PP&R’s Mobile Lunch + Play program in neighborhoods without good access to parks.

“Thanks to Bank of America, thousands more Portland children will receive a free, healthy meal,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Nick Fish. “The Neighborhood Builders grant strengthens our long-standing partnership with Bank of America. Thanks to our philanthropic partner the Portland Parks Foundation and to Roger Hinshaw and Monique Barton at Bank of America for their commitment to Portland families.”

Randy Gragg, Portland Parks Foundation’s Executive Director, added: “The Bank of America Neighborhood Builders grant will allow us to bring a lot of the fun of a park directly to kids, right where they live. With our city growing so quickly, Mobile Lunch + Play is a fast, effective and innovative way to better serve more of our city’s children and reach new neighborhoods.”

Monique Barton, senior vice president at Bank of America in Portland, added that both nonprofits have long histories of partnering with Bank of America through traditional foundation grants that span many years. Over that time, both nonprofits consistently demonstrated impact, reach and successful two-way partnership.

“We remain impressed by the visions of Financial Beginnings and Portland Parks Foundation.

“They are both doing tremendous work to elevate opportunities available to young people in Portland, and we look forward to seeing what more they’re able to achieve with this additional investment,” Barton said. “The programs they are earmarking the funds for are very worthy causes with the potential to make a real difference in helping local youth and families.”

Financial Beginnings: Founded in 2005, Financial Beginnings Oregon is a nonprofit organization that provides free financial education programs across the state. Learn more about Financial Beginnings Oregon at www.finbegor.org and connect with us on Twitter.

Portland Parks Foundation: The Portland Parks Foundation is dedicated to connecting Portlanders to nature and to each other through the city’s parks, public spaces and natural areas. We lead, develop partnerships and raise money to fund new facilities, enhance existing ones, and support programs to put our parks system within reach of all. More information on Portland Parks & Recreation’s Mobile Lunch + Play and other Summer Free For All programs, can be found here.

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