Confluence Environmental Center has received a grant of $39,993 from the Meyer Memorial Trust to launch the Confluence Fellows Program in the Lents-Foster area of outer Southeast and East Portland; The Meyer Memorial Trust award, along with funding from Oregon Volunteers, will allow the program to begin in January 2015.
The Confluence Fellows program will build the capacity of Green Lents, the Foster Green EcoDistrict, and the Livable Lents initiative, which operate at the intersection of a healthy environment, community livability, and social justice. Fellows will be placed within these organizations for eleven months to build organizational strength, expand their programs, nurture leadership, and spur deep community involvement and cross-organizational collaboration.
The Confluence Fellows program was created through a collaborative effort between Confluence and the three community initiatives. "These have enormous promise to deliver community benefits, and they’ve done it with volunteer leadership. The Fellows inject the full time capacity for them to deliver at scale and grow,” says Neil Schulman, President of Confluence Board of Directors.
"Grassroots, community-led initiatives are a critical part of fostering thriving, sustainable communities," says Jalene Littlejohn, Co-Founder of Green Lents. "Partnering with Confluence will help us implement projects such as the only tool library serving East Portland neighborhoods, and a new community orchard that will improve access to healthy, fresh food in an area surrounded by convenience stores."
Confluence also hopes that the Fellows program will provide a replicable model for building the capacity of small community-based organizations. “Our region inspires a lot of great ideas and great organizations, but we don’t do enough to help them grow and sustain themselves,” says Schulman. “That’s doubly important in places like outer Southeast and East Portland, where there’s a history of environmental and social inequities.”