The Portland school district’s nonprofit arm raised $1.7 million during the 2022-23 school year to award grants to district employees, expand arts programming, support families in crisis with food, housing and other necessities, and bolster the district’s equity goals.

The Foundation for Portland Public Schools gave a report on its work to the Portland school board Tuesday.

The foundation was established in 1992 to increase resources available to Portland schools. It was volunteer-run until 2016, when it hired its first employee. It is slated to have a staff of three employees starting next week. Foundation employees work directly with the district to decide how to allocate foundation resources.

Over the past five years, the foundation has significantly boosted its annual fundraising. During the 2018-19 school year, the foundation’s revenue reached around $450,000. In 2020-21, that number was $1 million. The foundation’s revenue hit around $1.7 million in each of the last two years.

The foundation receives almost all its money from grants and cash donations from individuals, businesses and other foundations.

In the 2022-23 school year, the foundation allocated $903,472 to the school district, around $100,000 for administrative costs and just under $400,000 for salaries and benefits.


The school district investments have been used to help families in emergency situations, grow the district’s arts programs, and expand the district’s food pantry, among other things. The foundation also plans to hand out $60,000 raised in the 2022-23 school year to staff, to help them support students.

Over the year, the district gave a total of $100,892 to 309 students and their families in emergency situations. Most of that money – almost 80% – went to families to help with housing or utility bills, helping them avoid eviction and homelessness.

It plans to continue the program this school year but to cap expenditures at $5,000 a month and maintain its limit of $1,000 of support per family per year. Foundation director Andrea Weisman Summers said the foundation cannot afford to keep up last year’s rate of supporting students.

The foundation also put significant funds toward expanding opportunities for Portland students to participate in the arts. The foundation raised $270,000 for the arts in the 2022-23 school year and is purchasing digital pianos, other instruments and kilns for the district.

In a few weeks, the foundation plans to give $60,000 in grants of $1,250 or less to staff members to increase their abilities to support students. Around 90 staff have applied for the grants. In past years, staff have used the grants for supplies, field trips and to bring in visiting experts.

The foundation is holding a forum for Portland’s parent teacher organization leaders later this month to share thoughts on where the foundation should focus its efforts in the future and to create a closer partnership between parent teacher organizations and the foundation.

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