PARTNER PROFILE: Prosper Portland

LJIST started working with Prosper Portland as it was beginning to re-imagine what economic and urban development with equity as a defining value could look like. This City of Portland agency is committed to building an equitable economy through a comprehensive range of economic development programs which support small business, improve access to workforce training, and create jobs for Portland residents. Like all our partnerships, this one started with a long-term relationship with Kate Deane, former (now retired) Neighborhood Economic Development Manager. Starting in 2008, Nanci first worked with Kate providing environmental justice and community engagement facilitation with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Fast forward to 2014 when LJIST led two Transformational Communication Workshops for approximately 100 participants, including district managers, community volunteers, stakeholders, and staff through the agency’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative and Main Street Network Equity Training Program. LJIST also facilitated four evening advanced learning sessions for participants including Healing from the Effects of Racism for People of Color, Healing from the Effects of Racism for White People, The Power of Apology, and a Historical Scan: History of “Race” in Portland interactive facilitated session—which became precursors to some of the one-day programs we premiered on our 25th Anniversary Tour last year. Not surprisingly, Prosper Portland is who we partnered with when we were looking for a co-host for our 2018 Innovation Lab to “test out” these workshops!

That same year, LJIST led our Transformational Communication Program (TCP) for 40 members of Prosper Portland’s Inclusive Business Resource Network (IBRN). This citywide program seeks to dramatically and meaningfully shift outcomes for business owners of color, immigrants, women founders, and other underrepresented minorities through focused resources, collaboration, and client-centered services. Approximately 600 Portland-area businesses are served through the Network each year, and 400 of them – 65 percent owned by women and 75 percent owned by people of color – receive long-term support. We postponed this month’s TCP offering for the Network until it is responsible to gather again in large groups in person.

Since early March, when the state-wide public health #stayhometosavelives policy went into effect in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community served by the IBRN and the greater Prosper Portland agency has been devastated. Prosper Portland has been staffing a hotline, making emergency small loans through their own budget, distributing City of Portland emergency relief funding, advocating, and providing technical assistance. Small businesses, especially those run by women, immigrants and people of color, are at the center of the near collapse of this sector. With the leadership of Mayra Arreola, Director of Equity, Governance & Communications, the Prosper Portland Equity Council has asked LJIST to offer Healing Together Virtual Gatherings for their staff. These spaces will provide much-needed support, capacity-building, and resiliency-deepening for what they are witnessing.

“LJIST’s impact is rooted in deep transformation. It takes into account our personal stories, feelings, and undercover experiences that makes us show up in habitual ways. Their sessions shine light into our inner world and open up spaces for us to process and understand what needs to be tended to as individuals, offering us the incredible opportunity to become our true selves both at the personal and professional level. These opportunities, in return, better prepare us to lead and lean into all of our strengths and abilities. I am forever thankful for Nanci’s impact in my life. She gave me the space to unravel a series of transformations that have resulted in a life that’s is much more aligned with my true self.”

Mayra Arreola, Director of Equity, Governance & Communications, Prosper Portland

LJIST is proud to partner with Prosper Portland to make their vision of a just and equitable Portland a reality.