Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is Portland Means Progress?

Portland Means Progress is a is a city-wide initiative that opened with early adopters in March 2019. It calls on businesses to take actions to hire local students, connect with diverse businesses, and/or create a healthier company culture. The goal is to connect businesses to existing programming that supports social impact, creating a pipeline for private-sector engagement.

Portland Means Progress grew out of discussions among the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) about how to solve the significant prosperity divide in our community and how to engage private sector leaders in bridging those gaps.

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What is the Early Adopter Phase for Portland Means Progress?

In March 2019, Portland Means Progress began with a core group of businesses as early adopters to build out the initiative thoughtfully before it launches to the larger business community. The Early Adopter Phase will include the creation and implementation of a Community Vetting Process to inform the initiative’s development with community input. A small subset of the early adopter businesses will develop the infrastructure for each action. You can learn more about the Early Adopter Businesses on the About Us page. Portland Means Progress will launch city-wide in 2020.

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How can I engage with Portland Means Progress during the Early Adopter Phase?

Join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on the initiative and receive valuable information about how to engage right now.

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How is this different from the TechTown Diversity Pledge?

Portland Means Progress is open to businesses in the City of Portland from any industry, while the TechTown Diversity Pledge is specifically focused on diversifying the technology industry. While the 5 pledge actions in the TechTown Diversity Pledge align with those in Portland Means Progress, they are not exactly the same. We encourage tech companies to consider joining both initiatives. Learn more about TechTown Portland »

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Why does the program lead with race instead of focusing on other underrepresented groups?

  • Race is consistently the indicator of greatest disparity in our city.
  • Race may be ignored as a factor if not intentionally addressed.
  • Our economy is built on a racist past (slavery, Native American genocide, and racial exclusion)

The term “leading with race” does not mean “only race.” It is a practice of starting with a racial equity analysis, inclusive of analysis of other marginalized groups, in order to understand how race dynamics impact outcomes. When we lead with race, we are prioritizing racial justice, while finding models and systems we can use to address other forms of oppression and intersectionality.

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How were the three actions identified? Will new actions be included?

The Council of Economic Advisors identified the initial actions of Portland Means Progress. We will be developing a community-based vetting process as the program grows, so that its development will be informed by community and businesses working together. This collaborative process will determine how new items and service providers are added to the initiative.

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Is there a fee to join?

There is no fee to become a Portland Means Progress business.

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Service Providers

My non-profit provides work experience / diversity, equity & inclusion training and/or small business support services. How do I get on the list as a vetted service provider?

Service provider vetting for the Portland Means Progress Initiative will be a transparent and community-based process. Provide your information on the Join Us page if you would like to receive updates about the provider selection process or are interested in participating as a service provider.

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How did you select the service providers for the initial program opening?

To facilitate an effective start to the initiative, we chose existing programs managed by Worksystems and the Portland Leadership Foundation. The City of Portland invests annually in these programs – which provide underrepresented youth with paid, meaningful work experience. These programs have access to a ready pipeline of program participants, provide employer/workplace vetting, and participant preparation and vetting.

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What mechanisms are in place to support a positive experience for youth and businesses through the work experience action?

The existing programs managed by Worksystems and the Portland Leadership Foundation include requirements for businesses to have made preparations before hosting a student worker, including having an assigned supervisor and/or mentor for the youth and a documented job or project description. The programs also include individualized matching between the employer and youth, as well as check-ins throughout the work experience.

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Business Eligibility

Who can participate in this initiative?

A group of early adopter businesses is currently developing Portland Means Progress for its launch to the wider business community in 2020. These businesses and organizations are of a variety of sizes, have a presence in the City of Portland, pay a minimum wage of $15 / hour for all employees, and have committed to taking at least one of the actions required through the initiative. Those companies with student workers are paying them at least the current minimum wage for the City of Portland metro area.

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My organization is a government agency / non-profit. Are we eligible to participate?

Yes! Government agencies and non-profits can participate as Portland Means Progress “businesses” if you meet the minimum pay requirements for all your employees and take the actions required through the initiative.

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I’m a small business owner and don’t currently have the financial resources to engage in Portland Means Progress, but I want to be involved. What resources are there?

Prosper Portland has programs intended to support small traded sector businesses in providing work experiences and equity training, including the Small Business Internship Grant and the Inspiring Diversity Grant. Worksystems will also be providing limited opportunities for sponsored internships through the SummerWorks program for Portland Means Progress businesses. Contact us to learn more.

Also consider engaging in the small business action. Businesses can set a stretch target to start procuring more goods and services from entrepreneurs of color. This target percentage of spending is based on what is feasible for your organization, and as your company grows, you can increase your spending with these businesses.

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Is there a minimum or maximum size for businesses to be eligible for Portland Means Progress?

No! Companies of all sizes are welcome to engage in this initiative.

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My company pays a minimum $15/hour for all employees except our student workers, who are paid slightly less than $15/hour. Does this make us ineligible for the program?

You are eligible for the program! The minimum pay threshold of $15/hour is focused on employees working within the City of Portland city limits, excluding student workers. Student workers (i.e. interns) must be paid at least the current minimum wage for the City of Portland metro area. If you engage students at your worksite for educational programming with a stipend or if your student work experience is unique, please contact us so we can verify your eligibility.

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Why is the minimum threshold $15/hour?

By July 2022, the minimum wage for the City of Portland metro area will be $14.75 by law. Portland Means Progress is encouraging companies to do better and be better. We believe paying a living wage to all your employees as soon as possible is a good start.

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What support is available to companies who don’t currently pay the minimum of $15/hour across the organization, but want to be engaged?

Portland Means Progress will focus initially on businesses that commit to the actions of the initiative. However, we plan to develop assistance for companies that want to implement career pathways and internal trainings to help their employees increase skills for increased pay. To learn more, please contact us.

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Why aren’t the requirements different for small businesses and large businesses?

The Early Adopter Phase is a baseline period year for the Portland Means Progress initiative. Companies who participate will support developing the requirements for the Portland Means Progress commitments. This will inform the establishment of appropriate targets in the future.

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Where does my business need to be located to be eligible for Portland Means Progress?

Businesses must have a presence in the City of Portland for the Early Adopter Phase. All commitments are focused on activities in the City of Portland. As the initiative scales, we will be working with our partners in the Portland Metro Area to identify how to work with businesses outside of the City of Portland city limits. If you are interested in joining us when we scale, please provide your information on the join us page.

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Community Engagement

Has the community played a role in the development of this initiative?

The Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) has been critical in the development of Portland Means Progress. CEA has approximately forty members who are leaders from business, non-profits, chambers, government, foundations, colleges, universities, and unions.

In addition, the initiative has been informed by discussions with community-based organizations, businesses, and equity practitioners. We want to deepen this community engagement by creating a process for a Community Council to advise and influence future updates and development of the initiative.

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How can I get involved with this community council and/or with decisions around the evolution of the program?

Please send us your information on the Join Us page, and we will add you to our email list to be informed of community engagement events.

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Action Requirements

My business has a presence beyond the City of Portland – does that affect the requirements for us to be a Portland Means Progress Business?

The Portland Means Progress initiative is focused on creating meaningful change in the City of Portland, so the requirements and actions are designed to take place within the City of Portland. We applaud businesses that take these actions across your organization, regardless of location, but this is not a requirement to be a Portland Means Progress business.

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My company has its own internal internship program and it’s great! Will it meet the requirements of the work experience action even though it’s not through a vetted service provider?

An established internal work experience or internship program may be eligible to meet this requirement. If your existing program provides a paid work experience that is focused on communities of color or underserved populations, please email us and provide your information so we can discuss in more detail.

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My company does internships, but not through one of the vetted service providers. Why doesn’t this count for Portland Means Progress?

At this stage, we are working directly through the listed service providers only, or with businesses with large internal internship programs. This allows us to verify that the internships taking place align to the goals and target outcomes of Portland Means Progress.

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For small business support for businesses owned by people of color, are we able to use self-certified minority-owned companies?

Portland Means Progress does not require companies to be certified as minority-owned. For example, we encourage purchasing from companies listed on the Mercatus directory, which are self-certified. If your company procures from a business that you know is owned by a person or people of color, this would also qualify. Please encourage this business to join Mercatus and/or COBID so others can find them.

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Are we required to procure goods and services from small businesses within a specific geographic location?

Small businesses receiving support through Portland Means Progress must be located in the State of Oregon and/or Clark County to qualify as fulfilling your action. This is to focus the support on local small businesses.

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Are we required to procure goods and services from small businesses of a specific size?

Any business owned by a person of color located in the State of Oregon and/or Clark County qualifies for this action.

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Does any MWESB (Minority-owned, Women-owned, or Emerging Small Business) certified business qualify for the small business support action?

Not necessarily - the focus of this action is businesses owned by people of color, so only those that are minority-owned would qualify.

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Why do businesses set their own minimum targets for spending at businesses owned by people of color instead of requiring a universal minimum threshold?

The Early Adopter Phase of the program is focused on creating a baseline for the initiative. We will revisit the requirements as the initiative scales.

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When do commitments need to be completed and reported?

Actions are required during each calendar year, with reporting due by the end of January in the following year.

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