Nike co-founder Phil Knight has recently pledged a staggering $400 million donation to the 1803 Fund, a non-profit organization that supports Portland's Black community. The goal of the donation is “aim to transform current & future generations of Black Portland through investments in education, place, culture & belonging in the Albina community.” Knight's donation will be distributed over five years through the Black Economic Development Fund, which will offer low-interest loans, grants, and technical assistance to Black-owned businesses in the area.
Albina, a historically Black neighborhood in Portland, was once a thriving center of enterprise and culture for Portland’s Black community in the early 1900s. However, in the 1960s, Albina's progress was halted by urban renewal projects that paved the way for gentrification, leading to the displacement of generations of Black families. To address this issue, the 1803 Fund was created to rebuild the area and invest in programs that provide Black Portlanders with new opportunities and resources. Phil Knight, has a special connection to Portland, as the city served as the springboard for Nike's success. Over the years, Nike has given back to Oregon in a number of ways, including the annual OHSU x Doernbecher Collection and providing University of Oregon athletes with the best student-athlete PEs.
The 1803 Fund's board of directors includes a diverse group of longtime Black leaders in Portland, such as Tony Hopson, CEO of Black youth advocacy nonprofit Self-Enhancement Inc, Ron Herndon, CEO of Albina Head Start, and Larry Miller, former Trail Blazers executive and chair of Nike's Michael Jordan brand. The 1803 Fund is designed to provide low-interest loans, grants, and technical assistance to Black-owned businesses in the area. Its mission is to support economic development and job creation in Albina and address racial disparities by empowering Black residents.
Knight's donation to the 1803 Fund is a great step towards addressing systemic racism and promoting economic opportunity for marginalized communities. With so much of Nike's rich history residing in Portland, it would be a shame to see it lost through gentrification. We hope this generosity by Phil Knight is noticed by others with the same resources to help the communities that support their businesses. We'll keep you updated with the story as it develops, but in the meantime connect with us on Instagram and Twitter for the latest sneaker news and releases.