From 2006-18, the MBF awarded more than $460,000 in civic education grants to local nonprofits' civic education and engagement programs to increase the public's understanding of the justice system and the importance of an independent judiciary, and to help people learn how to be informed voters and civically engaged. The Civic Education Fund was sunsetted in 2018 as the MBF Board turned its focus to offering direct services to the court and community through the CourtCare, CourtConnect and CourtSupport programs. Remaining funds were awarded to Elders in Action, League of Women Voters of Portland, Peer Court and Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugess. Read "Turning the Page" by Tim Resch and Dana Scheele, Multnomah Lawyer, December 2018.

MBF Awards Over $39,000 in Final Civic Education Grants Cycle

In 2018, the Multnomah Bar Foundation (MBF) has awarded grants totaling $39,195 to seven area nonprofits for programs that educate people of all ages about the justice system and encourage civic engagement. Grants are made from the MBF Civic Education Fund and reflect the generous support of lawyers and law firms in the community. The foundation has awarded over $400,000 since 2006. To learn more, donate directly or ask about volunteer opportunities, follow the link in each listing below.

Elders in Action was granted $5,200 for Civics 101, a five-session hands-on leadership training in advocacy to build a strong cadre of seniors who are civically engaged, understand the city, county and state government systems and can advocate for themselves and their peers. More about Elders in Action.

Healthy Democracy, a new recipient, was awarded $5,000 for the Multnomah County Citizens Initiative Review, which brings together representative groups of citizens to fairly and thoroughly evaluate ballot measures and provide voters with information, which includes publishing a written citizens' statement in the Multnomah County Voter's Guide.  To volunteer as an Assistant Moderator, contact Robin Teater at 503.381.1196. Learn more about Healthy Democracy.

League of Women Voters of Portland was granted $5,000 to expand their Voter and Civic Education programs, including civic education panel discussions, voter registration services, candidate and ballot measure forums, unbiased, nonpartisan Voter's Guides in English and Spanish, and outreach to more communities, particularly to ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged communities. Visit the League's website.

MetroEast Community Media was awarded $4,495 to create "Checks and Balances," a two-minute Spanish-language video that explains our system of checks and balances, the responsibilities and functions of each, the challenges the system faces today and why an understanding of the three branches of government is vital to being active and purposeful participants in our democracy. Learn more about MetroEast.

Northwest Family Services (NWFS) was granted $7,000 to support the educative function of Four Cities Peer Court and expand the program to David Douglas and Portland Public schools. High school student volunteers and program graduates serve as attorneys and jury members in a courtroom setting to hold youth accountable for first-time misdemeanor offenses. More about Northwest Family Services and Peer Court.

Saturday Academy received $5,000, to provide tuition assistance for low-income middle school students to attend Kid Lawyer Camp and Mock Trial Classes, a summer camp that provides a fun, hands-on, in-depth learning experience about the judicial system, incorporating mock trial, speech and debate, forensics and journalism. Visit Saturday Academy's website for more information.

Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees was granted $7,500 to update and expand the curriculum for the Voter Education Project, providing group classes and individual sessions to ensure newly naturalized citizens - particularly people of low income, refugees and asylees - have an understanding of the American voting system, are registered to vote and have proper access. Learn more about SOAR.

For more information about the work of the MBF, contact Pamela Hubbs (503.222.3275,


Civic Education Video Series

The MBF, in partnership with MetroEast Community Media, has produced a video series on democracy issues. This project focuses on the themes of voter registration and the importance of being an informed voter, civic engagement, responsible civil discourse, what goes on in the courthouse, impartial courts, rule of law, the balance of powers and the various kinds of courts and how they fit into public safety. The Bus Project, City Club of Portland, League of Women Voters of Portland and mediator Jim Park assisted in the development of some of the video content and the Classroom Law Project created discussion guides for classroom use. 

Please watch them on YouTube.

Awards. The Courthouse and The Court System videos took top honors at the 2012 National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) Government Programming Awards. The Court System was awarded first place in the "Public Education" category and The Courthouse was awarded second place in the "Community Awareness" category. Voting 101, a combination short video and PSA, was awarded first place in the "Democracy in Action" category at the 2013 Hometown Media Awards, a national competition that recognizes the best in community media programming

Distribution. The series was shared statewide with middle and high school teachers and reached a wide, general audience via cable access TV, YouTube and various educational, news media and civic groups' websites.

Also created by MetroEast and funded by a Civic Education grant from the MBF, "Su Voto Cuenta" ("Your Vote Counts"). "Su Voto Cuenta" won the Democracy in Action category at the 2017 Best of the Northwest Awards. The Best of the Northwest competition showcases exceptional programs in community media. This prestigious awards contest honors outstanding programs telecast on or produced by community access or local origination television channels in the Northwest region (Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) of the Alliance for Community Media.