Authored by Nicole Howe, Community Involvement Manager, Impact NW
Research shows that kids start making up their minds about science at a surprisingly young age. Many students begin to believe science is too hard, too boring or not for them. AKA Science, a program of Impact NW, strives to intervene early and engage elementary students with fun science activities that nurture their curiosity and build their confidence. The name “AKA Science” stands for All Kids Are Scientists — and that’s the message we want kids to take away.
Each class uses hands-on curriculum, a trained instructor and a supply kit to bring lesson plans to life. In the 2015-2016 school year, we offered more than 200 classes across 60 sites and reached approximately 2,000 students. Our success is a direct result of partnerships with community schools, public libraries and dedicated volunteers.
In 2013, the team at Elemental Technologies heard our call for kit-building volunteers and swept us away with their energy, enthusiasm and dedication to our cause. Since that first day, they have continued to pitch in, contributing 200 volunteer hours to AKA Science. No matter how crazy our requests — “Count fifty sets of 164 beads,” or “Fill these 200 bags with pea gravel” — Elementals are always up to the challenge and ready to get things done.
This year, Elemental deepened that relationship by investing in AKA Science with a $30,000 grant to be distributed over the next three years. AKA Science is a small program that’s trying to do big things, and this award from the Elemental Community Investment Fund is a tremendous gift to help us in our work. Elemental’s contribution will aid in AKA Science’s mission to continue to make high-quality science experiences accessible to as many students as possible — especially to students who might not otherwise have access.
We hope that the passion and commitment Elemental has shown in serving our community will stand as a shining example for others to follow. We thank Elemental on behalf of our program, and on behalf of the next generation of scientists, engineers, mathematicians and community members that this generosity is helping to inspire!
Authored by Eric Rosewall, Executive Director, Depave
The roots of Depave stretch back to two friends helping each other with backyard demonstrations in the early 2000s. Charged with adrenaline and excited by the potential of the practice, they piloted the concept on a grander scale with the first official depaving event in 2008. Word of Depave’s unique approach to community building and neighborhood improvement spread quickly, and soon groups from around Portland were asking Depave to help them “regreen” their over-paved spaces. A small group of community-minded volunteers set to work, turning a wild idea into a sustainable effort. Over the years Depave has been fortunate to have many committed volunteers champion the cause, fund projects that have strengthened our model and contribute to developing Depave into a successful organization.
Depaving is very much about bringing people together for a powerful exercise in teamwork – we call it Barn Raising in Reverse. Depave's community events are most powerful when multiple groups, new community members and seasoned depavers join together to celebrate and sweat – sharing the pavement, building bonds and learning from one another. We cherish the lasting relationships built through our work in the community, and that's why we always look forward to the return of the Green Shirts. The team at Elemental first joined us in 2014 to rip up pavement at the Portland Mercado, but they didn’t stop there. To our delight, Elemental returned and kept returning to help us replenish local neighborhoods. Elemental’s commitment to the community is awesome, and we’re honored to be one among the many organizations within their volunteer service portfolio. It’s so meaningful to both our staff and our program to have the ongoing, enthusiastic support of strong groups like the Elemental Technologies team.
As Depave shifts from startup to established organization, we are able to spread our impact beyond Portland and support more communities by increasing access to healthy urban greenspaces in which community members can learn, play, grow and connect. The three-year financial commitment from the Elemental Community Investment Fund bolsters our efforts to fund projects on the ground in over-paved areas around the Portland-Vancouver region and supports new Green Thumb programming aimed to engage people in greenspace stewardship. Interest in depaving is growing near and far, and we’re inspired by the depaving efforts we helped to establish in the Puget Sound and the Ontario, Canada regions. In the years to come, we hope our model will support a broad network of depavers working to peel back the pavement across the country. Thank you from the bottom of our wheelbarrows to the leaders at Elemental for believing in the power of Depave’s work.
Authored by Emily Barrett, Elemental Community Ambassador
On a chilly December morning in 2013, ten Elemental employees arrived at the LIFT Urban Portland warehouse to spend a few hours stocking food donations and organizing shelves. I remember how humbled we were by the accomplishments of LIFT, which is an Oregon Food Bank Partner serving more than 150 families weekly at Preston’s Pantry; providing fresh produce for kids and families from Chapman Elementary under the Food for Kids program; and raising fresh produce in gardens to provide nourishment for low-income residents in Northwest Portland, the Pearl, Old Town/Chinatown and the West End. These individuals can sometimes be “invisible” in areas of growth and wealth, such as Portland’s booming downtown tech corridor.
Our work with LIFT was so satisfying that we resolved to do more! The gentler weather and bountiful produce typical of spring in Oregon makes it difficult to remember that we have neighbors who are hungry and food banks with spare shelves. So, in 2014, we shifted the timing of the annual Elemental Food Drive from December to May and proudly supported LIFT with 646 pounds of donated packaged goods and $1,829 in “virtual” food.
In 2015, the Elemental Food Drive was an even bigger success with the addition of a friendly challenge that included Jive Software and Puppet Labs. The competition focused on who could bring in the most food per employee. While I’m happy to report that yes, Elemental did take first place, the true winner was LIFT. Together, the three companies brought in more than 1,500 pounds of food and in excess of $7,500 in “virtual” food!
This year, Elemental’s partnership with LIFT has deepened considerably. In its first grant cycle, the Elemental Community Investment Fund (ECIF) awarded three local non-profits $10,000 annually for three years. To help combat hunger in the Portland community, we named LIFT as one of the beneficiaries. You can learn more about the ECIF here.
But we’re not going to stop there. With the enthusiastic support of our colleagues at the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO), we are opening up our annual food drive competition to all tech companies in Portland.
Here are the two simple steps you can take to get your company and peers involved and to make a huge impact for LIFT: provide TAO your headcount by May 1 and then encourage your employees to bring in as much food as they can by May 31. Donations can also be made virtually by going here.
This will be a great way to help support our neighbors in need – and to have some fun while we’re at it. And there’s a reward: a Belmont Coffee cart in the office for an afternoon in June, making espresso, latte, flat white, cafe au lait and more for your team. Please join us and give a LIFT to our neighbors in need!
Interested in getting more involved? Contact Katie at Lift Urban.