Portland Racial Equity Nonprofit to Offer Basic Income Program

Image courtesy Brown Hope via YouTube

More than 100 Portland businesses have contributed to Brown Hope’s fund, which will launch in 2023

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A Portland-based nonprofit is restructuring its two-year-old emergency relief fund to a “village building program with an income guarantee.”

The Black Resilience Fund, a Portland-based program organized by racial equity nonprofit Brown Hope, announced last week that it is restructuring from an emergency relief fund to a village building program with an income guarantee.

The program will support up to 50 people over a three-year period. Recipients will be eligible for up to $2,000 a month depending on household income and size, to a maximum assistance of $24,000 a year.

More than 100 businesses in Portland have already contributed to the effort by joining Brown Hope’s Juneteenth PDX 2022 campaign. Participating businesses — including Powell’s Books, Nossa Familia Coffee, and Migration Brewing Company — donated a percentage of their Juneteenth weekend sales to support Black Resilience Fund’s mission.

“The Black Resilience Fund has created programs to help get that support directly in the hands of those who need it most. They are working to create more equity, repairing generational trauma, and bringing hope to life,” Shandrea Frew, owner of Free Wild She, who donated 19% of her tea company’s Juneteenth Weekend revenue to the program, tells Oregon Business.

“We are inspired by the work of the Black Resilience Fund, which helps thousands of Black Portlanders with immediate assistance, and Powell’s is honored to support its Annual Celebration of Black Liberation,” Emily Powell, president and owner of Powell’s Books, said in a press release from Brown Hope.

Brown Hope has set a $500,000 fundraising goal for the summer in order to meet the assistance needs of the 50 inaugural participants, with the new model taking effect in 2023.

A video announcing the restructuring described the income guarantee as “a solution that lifts all boats,” and that Brown Hope’s program would provide a platform “free from red tape and bureaucracy” to help Black Portlanders achieve their dreams.

According to a December 2019 Multnomah County report, 35% of the Black population faces poverty compared with 14% of whites.

A 2021 report from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found economic security programs were effective in reducing poverty and were of particular help to Black communities. In 2017, benefit programs accounted for a 12% reduction in white and Latino poverty rates and 16% reduction in Black poverty rates.

Brown Hope was founded in 2018 by longtime Portland activist Cameron Whitten. The Black Resilience Fund launched in 2020, and has distributed $2 million worth of financial relief to 7,100 individuals, according to information released by Brown Hope.