Portland Children's Levy Newsletter

JULY 2018

Dan Saltzman, Portland City Commissioner | Lisa Pellegrino, Director 
Pass it On
Handy "Get Food Guide" 
       
Students invited to 9th Annual Summer Challenge Academy
Students in grades 7 - 12 are invited to the 9th Annual Summer Challenge Academy hosted by REAP Inc. The conference will be July 31st - August 3rd from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center. 

The goal is to affirm the positive identity and skill sets of  Portland youth. REAP seeks to do this by engaging the students in skill building activities and connecting them with proactive local community business, health and technology leaders.
For more information, go here. 

       
PCL Making a Difference:
New Avenues for Youth
Brittany Hope is a former foster youth. She is also a Portland Community College student, the Foster Youth Retention/Transition Coordinator at the Cascade Campus, and an organizer of Solutions PDX,  
a recent event that brought together representatives (including New Avenues for Youth) from the public, private and nonprofit sector to work toward improving the lives of children in Oregon's foster care system. She shares her story:

It's an overused analogy, but bear with me for a moment. Life is a race to be run. We like to
pretend that everybody starts from the same place, and that the outcome depends on nothing
but one's own abilities and will to win -- but it's pretty clear that this isn't the case. There are an
array of factors that give some people a head start, slow others down, stop some completely, or -- for a lucky few -- enable them to start the race a step from the finish line.

There is one group of people, though, who face a slower start than almost any other, whose obstacles in the race cut across lines of race, class, gender, and origin: foster youth. Broadly speaking, the life outcomes for foster youth and former foster youth are dismal. We experience higher rates of teen pregnancy, addiction, unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration than the general population. We see lower rates of graduation and degree attainment. We are more likely to find ourselves in abusive relationships or to experience
discrimination when we're looking for work. Many of these outcomes can be attributed to an immovable, universal human truth: Life is easier when you have a loving, stable family. But by definition, foster youth fall on the wrong
side of this divide -- we are placed into the foster system because a court recognized that life with our biological families, in our homes, carries an unacceptable risk of maltreatment, neglect, or abuse. We are asked, in essence, to run the race without shoes.

Even those of us lucky enough to be placed with foster families who welcome us as one of their 
own face a rocky track. Because of our history, many of us are likely to display  higher-than-normal levels of emotional and behavioral problems linked to childhood trauma,  more likely to be suspended or expelled from school because of these emotional and behavioral  problems, and less likely to engage in school and extracurricular activities. Many of us move  from one foster home to another as we grow up, and regardless of how well we might be  treated, this is a situation antithetical to creating the kinds of familial bonds and support that
transcend time, space, and the expiration of the system's obligation to look after us.

For those foster youth who "age out" of the system -- rather than returning home or being adopted -- the prospect of running a successful race looks even more bleak. According to a national study, only 48 percent of aged-out foster youth had graduated from high school by the time they aged out, and only 54 percent had graduated two to four years later. Only 2 percent go on to earn a college degree, and only 50 percent are employed at age 24. To put this into perspective, 23,439 foster youth aged  out of the system in the United States in 2016. One in four will become homeless within four years of turning 18, and 33 percent of men and 75 percent of women will end up on some kind of government assistance after aging out. 

In a very real sense, for many foster youth, it seems the race is over before it ever begins. To be fair, it's better to have a foster care system than to not have one -- but the inescapable truth is that the system is failing too many foster youth too much of the time, even in our community. We can do better. We must do better. I am grateful to say, though, that here in Portland, the plight of foster youth has not gone unnoticed. Recently, the City of Portland worked with community partners to open a housing program for a few transitional foster youth in North Portland. This is the kind of investment and commitment that we need, not only from the city's government and select non-profit organizations, but from the greater community of Portland. These are the make-or-break years for foster youth -- if we can come together and give them the support they need in early adulthood, suddenly they're back in the race.

We need more of this kind of investment from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors; and more importantly, we need to elevate the profile of foster youth in the community's consciousness. This is why New Avenues for Youth, Oregon Foster Youth Connection, and the Associated Students of Portland Community College - Cascade teamed up to put on Solutions PDX, an afternoon of networking, education, brainstorming, and conversations about ways in which all of us can better support foster youth in the Portland area.

And who knows -- if we put our minds to it, one day every foster youth will be able not only to run the  race, but actually have a shot at winning.
The NAYA Family Center
The Portland Children's Levy-funded Sibling Family Visit Night provides a positive environment for youth in foster care to stay connected to family and community.


Featured Video
Olivia's Story
Earlier this year, we met Olivia and her College Possible coach, Davita.  College Possible  makes college admission and success a reality for low-income students through intensive coaching and support and is one of seven PCL-funded  mentoring  programs. Check out Olivia's story below.
Want to help spread the word about the Portland Children's Levy? Introduce us to your own networks by resharing and retweeting this video:

Do you have a story about a PCL-funded program which might make a great video or photo gallery? If so, contact  John Coghlan  with the details.
Allocation Committee News
Voters in May approved renewal of PCL for five years, from July 2019 through June 2024.

Under a revised timeline approved last month by the PCL Allocation Committee:
  • Current PCL grantees whose grants will expire in June 2019 will be eligible for a 1-year extension through June 2020.
  • PCL has issued a new community engagement Request for Proposal with a longer timeline for engagement activities and development of recommendations to inform funding priorities and strategies. Click HERE for the community engagement RFP. A second RFP for a qualitative research project to gather input on PCL's grantmaking processes and practices and Levy operations, and make recommendations for change, can be found HERE.
  • The AC will spend 2018-19 overseeing these engagement and input processes, making decisions on process changes, and funding priorities and strategies. PCL will conduct a competitive funding round in 2019-20, with new grants beginning in July 2020.
  • New AC members will have time to transition into their positions before funding decisions have to be made, including Allocation Chair and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman will be stepping down when his fifth term at City Council concludes in December. Mayor Ted Wheeler, who previously served on the AC when he was Multnomah County Chair, will be taking over the helm of the AC. 
  • PCL anticipates a Fall 2018 meeting to provide updates on the community engagement and qualitative research proposals. Notices will be issued on Levy social media platforms and to the database.
Early Childhood Updates
Early childhood resource for families 

Click here for a set of PP slides that provide tips to help families apply for Head Start and Early Head Start. The guide includes contact information for each of the Head Start providers in Multnomah County and suggests other free/low-cost preschool options.

PCL News
A guide to enact change at grassroots level
The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation just published a "toolkit" on how organizations can incubate change in local communities for early learning and other children's issues. Go here for the website, and check out the case study here highlighting what  PCL has accomplished in Portland. 
       
The 2018 Portland Children's Levy Community Report
The new PCL report, "Our Year in Profile" is hot off the press! This year, we asked children, students and families at six different programs to let us draw their profile and then they filled them with images representing who they are -- or who they hope to become. Thanks to our amazing artists who showed through their colorful profiles the empowering impact of PCL-funded programs.



Click here to view the report online. To request hard copies, email marygay.broderick@portlandoregon.gov
PCL Helps Nonprofits Recruit Volunteers

I t's a good idea to be listed on our Volunteer Opportunities page.  If you are an org that accepts volunteers, please  email us  with: 
  1.  A link: either to your website where volunteer information can be found, or the email and/or phone number of the name of the person responsible for volunteers.
  2. A short blurb about what you are looking for from volunteers.
  3. If you would like to include any specific wording about outreach to older and/or retired potential volunteers.
PCL Staff Contacts
Director, After School & Hunger grants:
Assistant Director and Early Childhood & Mentoring grants:
Child Abuse Prevention/Intervention & Foster Care Grants Manager:
Communications Director:

Community Outreach and Information Assistant
Fiscal Specialist:
       
Who We Are

The Portland Children's Levy was created by city voters in 2002 and overwhelmingly renewed for the third time by the electorate in May 2018. Funding for the new five-year Levy begins July 1, 2019 and runs through June 30, 2024.

The Levy is supported through a property tax paid by City of Portland homeowners that generates $17.8 million toward investments in proven programs in areas of Early Childhood, After School, Mentoring, Child Abuse Prevention/Intervention, Foster Care and Hunger Relief. The Levy reaches over 8,000 children and their families annually; in addition, Levy-funded hunger relief services provide food to over 11,000 children and 9,167 parents/caregivers annually.

The Levy is annually audited and administrative costs do not exceed 5 percent.
Questions? Contact: Call Mary Gay Broderick at 503-823-2947 or e-mail
See our website at www.portlandchildrenslevy.org

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