Portland Public Schools to Partner with Albina Vision Trust in Effort to Rebuild Historically Black Albina Neighborhood5/25/2021
The PPS Board of Education will vote tonight on a resolution authorizing an agreement with Albina Vision Trust (AVT), a nonprofit organization created to steward the neighborhood’s rebirth through the thoughtful transformation of the 94-acres of lower Albina, granting them a first right of offer on the Blanchard Educational Services Center (BESC) property located in lower Albina. Tonight, they will also affirm that PPS stands firmly behind the Albina Vision, a community-led reinvention and transformation of lower Albina, from which thousands of primarily Black residents were forcibly displaced over decades of urban renewal.
The Albina neighborhood was a thriving home to a large percentage of Portland’s Black population during much of the twentieth century, before being fundamentally disrupted and damaged by numerous government actions, including the construction of Interstate Avenue and, subsequently, I-5. “Our city’s history is heavy with institutional and structural racism, and the intentional destruction and dismantling of the Albina neighborhood and its historically Black community is a particularly stark and sad example,” said Michelle DePass, PPS Board Director who represents the Albina Neighborhood. “I am proud that we are taking this step to be a part of reimagining a neighborhood where all residents, especially its Black residents can live, work and thrive.”
“This agreement is another important step forward in PPS’ continued effort to lead with its core value of racial equity and social justice, and in accomplishing our shared goal of supporting the success of Black, Native American and PPS students of color,” said PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero ahead of the historic vote. “I am appreciative of the collaborative approach by our PPS team and community partners to get us to this historic milestone, further strengthening our resolve to do right by Portland’s Black community.”
“A sense of place is incredibly important. For a long time, PPS marginalized and disrupted the school community in Albina. Tonight's vote affirms we are entering into partnership with Albina Vision Trust and Multnomah County to elevate and support our Black students, their families, the historic Albina neighborhood and our long term racial equity vision,” said PPS Board Director Julia Brim-Edwards, who served on the PPS real estate task force. “This builds on our plans to modernize Jefferson High School and co-create with the community a Center for Black Student Excellence in Albina, two actions honoring, uplifting, and supporting our Black students and families.”
The agreement comes after months of discussions between PPS, AVT, and Multnomah County, which is relinquishing its existing right of first refusal on the site. “Multnomah County shares Albina Vision Trust’s commitment to creating a more equitable future and ensuring that children and families have the opportunities and environment to thrive,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “We are pleased to lean further into those values by supporting ATV’s landmark partnership with PPS.”
"Working together with PPS and Multnomah County, AVT is a step closer to realizing our vision for a community where Black folks and our history are treasured and reflected in the urban form,” said AVT Chair Rukaiyah Adams. “Children learn from what we say, but they also learn from what we do. PPS and Multnomah County are teaching us how equity, love and bravery are expressed in public policy and civic leadership. In return, AVT offers steadfast commitment to excellence, healing and shared prosperity for many generations to come."
There are no imminent plans to relocate PPS’ central headquarters. As one of Portland’s largest real estate holders, PPS regularly evaluates its holdings and stays informed about Portland’s dynamic commercial real estate market. All decisions made regarding property ownership or sale will align in support of the district vision and core values, and final real estate decisions are executed by the PPS Board of Education.