Portland, Ore. — Portland General Electric and its philanthropic arm, the PGE Foundation, today launched PGE Project Zero , a new social impact program responding to youth and young adults calling for action on climate change and their desire to be part of the solution. Working with community partners, PGE Project Zero is investing in climate science and clean energy education, green job opportunities for young adults disconnected from work and school and greenspace development in communities disproportionately feeling the impacts of climate change.
“PGE Project Zero helps PGE live its climate commitments by contributing to the climate science education, environmental volunteerism and green job employment of students and young adults,” said Dave Robertson, PGE Vice President of Public Affairs and Vice Chair of the PGE Foundation. “Our youth hunger for knowledge about our changing climate and purposeful ways to make a difference. PGE Project Zero is meant to meet this need and improve the lives of people and our planet right here in Oregon.”
Watch a video about PGE Project Zero’s focus on empowering the next generation of Oregonians.
PGE Project Zero, funded in part by the PGE Foundation, is focused on three impact areas:
Education: PGE Project Zero starts with education. PGE teamed up with Portland Public Schools (PPS) in January to announce first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, K-12 open source climate literacy curriculum development. PGE is financially supporting PPS’s work and offering expert perspectives on how climate change impacts the energy sector to aid teachers and students as they discuss climate impacts and the clean energy future. In addition, PGE is partnering with the Oregon Zoo, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Mad Science and other partners to offer free safety and energy educational materials and interactive experiences.
Workforce Development: Young adults disconnected from work and school will benefit from Project Zero’s green job internships with selected community partners. This summer, 9 PGE Project Zero interns began their 6-month paid internships, funded by the PGE Foundation, at 5 partner organizations across Oregon, following recommended health and safety guidelines. Each intern is supported by a PGE employee mentor and receives supplementary professional development training. Partner organizations include Blueprint Foundation, Verde, Forest Park Conservancy, Columbia Slough Watershed Council and Friends of Trees.
Environmental Stewardship: Most low-income communities, Indigenous populations and communities of color are already experiencing firsthand the negative health and environmental impacts of climate change. PGE Project Zero invests in enhancing parks and greenspaces and improving air quality in neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by climate change. PGE works alongside longstanding partners, such as SOLVE and Friends of Trees, to engage Project Zero interns, PGE employees and customers in a variety of environmental stewardship events and programs.
Adam Baek, PGE Project Zero Works intern, said, “PGE has given us interns a great opportunity to become contributing members of our community. It’s refreshing to have a company give people of color an opportunity at diversifying a traditionally white workplace. Each day at my internship I work with community organizations that have green workspace opportunities for underserved youth. While teaching myself and others about native plant species and eco systems, I also learn professional development and the importance of diversity in creative processes.”
Elaine Philippi of In4All, who collaborated on the development of PGE Project Zero’s green job internship program and is part of the oversight team for the internship program said, “Project Zero is the latest example of PGE’s collaborative community leadership. With youth at the center, all partners worked together to develop an approach and program that would amplify historically and currently marginalized young adults, providing supportive and challenging work experiences that will prepare them to use transferable skills in a future career and to be responsible stewards and leaders of the environment. It is a privilege to get to work with and continue to learn alongside the interns, PGE and this community of practice on this project.”
To learn more about PGE Project Zero, please visit portlandgeneral.com/projectzero.