In November 2006 the Portland City Council took a step toward greater citywide equity and community engagement by establishing the Diversity and Civic Leadership (DCL) Program. The DCL was created to help build capacity for underrepresented community-based organizations in order to increase constituent participation in the civic governance of the City. The DCL program requires new pathways for participation, new efforts to strengthen people’s ability to participate, and new levels of cultural awareness and responsiveness by City staff and elected officials.
The program developed 6 goals to support efforts to build the organizational and communication capacity of community organizations of color and immigrant/refugee organizations. The six goals are as follows:
1. Develop culturally appropriate means to build community identity, understanding of existing City governance structures, and skills to analyze City power dynamics.
2. Develop communication structures to encourage and maintain communication among community members and public agencies to support community building and livability efforts, foster dialogue on policy issues, and opportunities for involvement with the City.
3. Develop leadership opportunities to be more effective advocates responding to City public involvement initiatives and advancing policies to achieve economic and social equity for their constituencies.
4. Create a source of leadership to develop representation on City advisory committees, boards and commissions, neighborhood associations, and a wide array of City public involvement opportunities.
5. Encourage the development of collaborations and partnerships between a wide-range of underrepresented community organizations, neighborhood and business associations, where there may be opportunities to work on common community and neighborhood livability issues.
6. Develop culturally appropriate models for how these communities can safely and successfully interact in City processes in meaningful ways that adds value to both their communities and the City.