What’s Going on…

Fall 2017 Newsletter from the Multnomah Athletic Foundation

Scholarships play an important role in making college more accessible and affordable, and paving the way for a student’s success in life. The most obvious benefit of scholarships is making college more affordable. Scholarships also allow for more financial flexibility in reducing the need for a job while going to school. The time and energy away from schoolwork for a part time job can reduce the likelihood for finishing school and the opportunity for experiential learning opportunities.

Persistence is critical to the mix of a successful college experience and finishing a degree. It was also a hallmark to Joe Loprinzi’s way of life. Joe is the inspiration behind the scholarship bearing his name which is awarded to several amazingly focused and persistent young athletes pursuing their dreams in college.

We asked two of the 2017 Loprinzi Scholarship recipients how they would state success in 3 or 4 words. Austin Chang (pictured above), a swimmer graduated with a full IB high school diploma from Sunset High School, will enter UCLA this Fall.

Jordan Ashmore (pictured left), also a swimmer graduated with honors and a host of Advanced Placement courses from Aloha High School, will attend and swim at Columbia University this Fall.

The Little Grant That Could

“Have you heard of Multnomah Athletic Foundation?” That was the question from a Foundation’s board member that started it all.

As the Executive Director of Friends of Baseball in my first year as the organization’s staff member, I was eager to find leaders and organizations who had the same heart and the same mind for what athletics can do for a child and in a community.

I knew immediately that the Foundation’s grant program was a great values fit for our organization’s work — enhancing children’s lives through baseball’s power to teach — what I didn’t know was the ways in which our organization’s trajectory would change as a result.

Understanding the grant funding world can be a bit of a wonky subject, but it is absolutely critical to understand how a powerful, but niche funder like Multnomah Athletic Foundation can help an organization like ours grow our impact in the community.
When we received news of our first MAF grant award in 2015, it was the first funded grant awarded for our pilot Full Count program. That first Full Count program held at Jefferson High School for 7-11 year old elementary school children kicked off a chain of events that has propelled our organization to even more impact in the community including a $10,000 field grant from the Seattle Mariners and MLB’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund, significant grants from Juan Young Trust and a program expansion grant from the NIKE Employee Impact Fund in 2016, and culminated this year in a capacity-building grant from Oregon Community Foundation to hire our second staff member (a grant that the MAF Board awarded matching funds for).

In the first 18 months of our Full Count after school and summer program, we served 225 students in the Portland Metro area and trained over 10 high school students in mentoring and coaching skills through our Full Count Fellows program.

For small, but mighty non-profits, just like in baseball, all it takes is one base hit to get a rally going. Thanks to the first “little grant that could” from Multnomah Athletic Foundation, we are doing more than putting runs on the board, we are making sure every child has the opportunity to swing for the fences on the field and in life.

Nova Newcomer, Friends of Baseball Executive Director

Building a better playground

As the name suggests, Harper’s Playground was originally inspired by one young girl: Harper Goldberg recently turned 12. She lives in North Portland with her parents, her younger sister Lennon, and her dog Millie. And, because of a disability that limits her mobility, she uses wheels to get around.

One summer day when Harper was four – and learning to walk with the aid of a pint-sized yellow walker – she and her family set out for their local playground. It was a typical sight, one seen in countless parks and school yards across the country: a plastic, “post and platform” structure placed neatly within an expanse of wood chips.

This sight is so ubiquitous that most don’t stop to consider the ins and outs of playground design.

But Harper and her family literally had to stop. They had to stop at the edge of the playground because the wood chips were nearly impossible to navigate on wheels. More so, even if Harper could get to the structure, it held no play value without the use of stairs.

That day, the Goldberg resolved to build a better playground.

Quickly their goal grew and evolved. It came to encompass not only Harper’s needs, but also the broad science of play, the power of good design, and the needs of the entire community.

You see, these ubiquitous, big, colorful, plastic structures clearly do not work well for kids like Harper. Less immediately evident, though no less problematic, these structures actually do not work well for ANY kids. Put simply, they are not fun; not truly playful. And play – vibrant, engaging, imaginative, social play – is a magical ingredient in physical, cognitive AND social development.

A grassroots team of designers, community members, landscape architects, and dreamers came together to create an entirely new vision for what a playground could be:

  • Unstructured, creative free-play
  • Nature-play
  • Social-play

The flagship Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge Park in North Portland opened in 2012. Immediately, rain or shine, it was infused with new life and vibrancy. The positive feedback flooded in. Galvanized, Harper’s Playground formed as an independent nonprofit aimed at replicating this magic in as many communities as possible. Next up: Couch Park on NW 20th and Glisan.

Thanks to hundreds of supporters, including the generous Multnomah Athletic Foundation, the project is fully funded! Construction begins this fall and an inclusive, creative, welcoming, engaging, innovative new playground will be open for play in the summer of 2018.

Play is a powerful tool. By changing the typical playground, we change the world for the better. We remove barriers to inclusion, we increase outdoor play and social engagement, we foster healthy community connections, and we instill lifetime values of social acceptance and engagement in the next generation.

What we’re reading for INSPIRATION.
7 Ways To Talk About Your Athletic Experience on a Job Interview (Fast Company). Keep Your Eye on the Balls to Become a Better Athlete (New York Times). Time to Reboot Grantmaking (Stanford Social Innovation Review) Nike and Adidas Promote Radically Inclusive Visions of Society in Two Powerful New Ads (Quartz).