2021 Prosper Portland diversity and inclusion grant recipients

Thirteen local businesses representing Portland’s targeted industries – green citiesathletic and outdoortechnology and media, and metals and machinery,  will receive grants to support their work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Out of the thirteen selected, five are Athletic & Outdoor businesses. The Inspiring Diversity Grant, now in its third year, is a Prosper Portland program intended to encourage private employers to incorporate creative, equity-related best practices around workforce, marketing and communications.

Prosper Portland’s business and industry strategy is focused on helping leading traded sector companies become more inclusive, recognizing that the fundamental equity challenge in Portland’s traded sectors is lack of access to good jobs. The city’s four targeted industry clusters pay wages well above the average for the City of Portland and are among the best employment opportunities in the region. Yet people of color, who represent 30 percent of Portland’s population, hold only 12-18 percent of cluster jobs.

Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam said, “Our efforts to stabilize and support local businesses focus on the importance of inclusion and a strong racial equity lens in economic development work across industries. The Inspiring Diversity grants are building a learning community that helps the business recipients and their peer companies become more competitive through diversity and inclusion best practices.”

The agency received more than 80 applications for the grant, which prioritizes traded sector companies that sell many of their products and services to people and businesses outside the Portland region, nationally and globally.

Selection of the recipients prioritized growth potential, leadership commitment and interest in peer learning, as well as innovation, community engagement and impact on underserved communities. The selection committee included Prosper Portland staff, previous awardees and a facilitator. The selected companies have committed matches totaling $58,700 in cash and in-kind staff time, more than half the grant fund of $112,500.

The grants are between $4,000 to $10,000 and support companies that provide high-paying and middle-wage jobs and opportunities for Portlanders, ranging from technology, manufacturing, architecture and engineering to consumer products.

Athletic & Outdoor recipients and projects:

Castelli Sportful – Maker of cycling apparel and accessories will provide De LaSalle North High School students with job opportunities

GladRags – reusable menstrual product company will develop a marketing and awareness campaign for BIPOC women

Pensole – Pensole Footwear Design Academy will conduct marketing outreach focused on BIPOC creatives across the Midwest and East Coast to promote their design programs in partnership with Sneakerball Cincinnati and Bigger Than Sneakers to empower the younger generation of footwear industry designers.

“We appreciate the opportunity that Prosper Portland’s Inspiring Diversity grant offers to expand our outreach to a larger geographic region. As we continue our efforts to increase diverse representation within the industry, this resource will strengthen our community impact as we mentor, develop and empower the next generation of designers.”

Haydee Franco, Development Manager and Color and Material Lead, Pensole: 

Portland Fashion Institute – outreach to African American community to build awareness/ acceptance and applications for PFI’s diversity program and train BIPOC youth in a high-demand job with market-rate wages

Last year’s ID grant helped us double student diversity. We also were able to grant a fashion scholarship to a talented person of color. This year, PFI sees an even greater opportunity.  Every week PFI gets requests for help producing apparel.  At the same time, it knows of young people of color who don’t have the skills but would like to get into the fashion world. With this year’s ID grant, we are linking two groups who likely have never heard of each other. We are training students selected from an underserved community, then preparing them to work for companies that need their help. By bringing these groups together, we can get young people into well-paid, satisfying jobs while strengthening Portland’s important apparel scene.

Sharon Blair, director, Portland Fashion Institute

For a full list of the recipients and awards, please read Prosper Portland awards grants for business diversity and inclusion

For more information about future grant and export opportunities for Athletic & Outdoor business, please contact us!


Prosper Portland creates economic growth and opportunity for Portland. Our vision is to make Portland one of the most globally competitive, healthy, and equitable cities in the world by investing in job creation, encouraging broad economic prosperity, and fostering great places throughout the city. We aspire to be a workplace of choice with passionate staff excelling in an open and empowering environment and sharing a commitment to our collective success.


Portland A&O powered by Prosper Portland aims to support the success of Oregon’s 800+ Athletic and Outdoor firms through community, peer-to-peer learning, events, and programming. The 800+ Oregon Athletic and Outdoor firms include brands, manufacturers and service providers for Footwear, Cycling, Sports Equipment, Fashion, Maker, Accessories and Bags, and Gear.

For a full list of companies within the Athletic and Outdoor Industry in Portland view our Interactive Ecosystem.