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YWCA of Greater Portland Receives $1 Million Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Jean DeMaster
YWCA of Greater Portland
Phone: 503.294.7486

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The YWCA of Greater Portland has received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the renovation and expansion of its headquarters in downtown Portland. The building has been a city landmark for over 40 years, providing housing, social services and recreational opportunities that empower women, children and families. Generations of Portlanders have memories of taking swimming lessons and playing basketball at the YWCA, but after 40 years of hard use, the building is in desperate need of improvements.

"Today the pool is drained, the heating system is held together by duct tape and the elevators consistently get jammed between floors. During the summer, it's like living in a clay oven – we have no air conditioning, and, if too many people plug in fans, the whole building short-circuits," said Jean DeMaster, Director of the YWCA of Greater Portland. "This generous donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enable us to restore this facility and better serve the community."

Renovation features include a restored health and fitness facility; a community center with a "Loaves & Fishes" meal site; a transitional housing program for female ex-offenders; a counseling center; and administrative offices. The new and improved facility will benefit thousands of Portland residents, providing programs for seniors, people with disabilities, low-income families, women and children, and others living and working in the downtown area.

The enhanced YWCA building will be the anchor for a $50 million, two-block project called Museum Place. Museum Place will include approximately 300 units of mixed-income housing (ranging from $300 - $2,000 per month), neighborhood retail space, a new, expanded Safeway grocery store, and a 300-car parking facility. This ambitious project -- a joint venture of Sockeye Development, LLC, the Portland Development Commission, the Housing Authority of Portland, Safeway Stores, Inc. and the YWCA -- is being hailed as a major catalyst for the revitalization of downtown Portland's West End District.

Mayor Vera Katz said, "I'm pleased that the YWCA has received this generous donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is a well-deserved recognition of the good work the YWCA has done in downtown Portland for years."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been generous in the past with key community projects in Portland, including a recent grant to "Outside In," a social service provider for homeless youths. "We recognize that the YWCA is a valuable community resource, and that its presence in downtown Portland is essential to the people it serves," said William H. Gates, Sr., Co-Chair & CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We are proud to help the YWCA of Greater Portland restore its downtown building and to solidify its key role in improving the lives of women, children and families."

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