A Permanent Home for our Native Community
Our Vision Realized! The Return to Neerchokikoo Campaign has been completed!
We are thrilled to announce the completion of our $4.6 million capital campaign, Return to Neerchokikoo. This achievement creates a safe and permanent home for Portland’s Native community, reclaims a space of great cultural significance, and positions NAYA to further nurture it into a thriving Native center.
Launched under the leadership of departing CEO Paul Lumley, the Return to Neerchokikoo campaign was envisioned to raise funds for much needed upgrades and repairs to the property, and to address the mortgage debt. “Our buildings and campus needed work, the pillars in our breezeway were crumbling, and our chiller and boiler were on their last legs. Importantly, by retiring the mortgage debt we would be able to put more than $240,000 a year back into our programs to serve our community and assure that NAYA would be here for years to come,” said Lumley.
Culturally significant, Neerchokikoo is an ancient Native encampment and gathering site near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers in Northeast Portland. For many centuries, Native Americans from tribes throughout the area came to this land to gather, trade, and build community. As Portland developed into a thriving city, its original inhabitants were dispersed throughout the city and beyond.
In 2006, NAYA relocated to the site of Neerchokikoo, where the organization offers wraparound services to Portland’s Native community. The continuum of services includes an alternative, culturally focused high school, family support services, elders’ programming, affordable housing and economic empowerment programming. NAYA’s campus connects community and youth of all ages to beautiful greenspace, wetland, and river resources through year-round cultural and educational programming.
The building repairs and upgrades got underway with $150,000 in generous in-kind support from EC Company, Energy Trust of Oregon, Evergreen, Herc Rental, Honl Tree Care, IBEW Local 48, KPFF Architects, Masons Supply Co., O’Neill Construction, Pacific NW Council of Carpenters, Pioneer Sheet Metal, Walsh Construction, and Wood Mechanix. Investments from The Collins Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, and Oregon State ARPA funding also contributed to the $1.7 M building upgrade goal.
A $500,000 grant from East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) and a generous gift from an anonymous donor launched the $3M capital phase in earnest in 2019. The Marguerite E. Casey Foundation and Oregon Community Foundation were also early investors.
“The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District is honored to have helped NAYA leverage funding to secure a site that means so much to Portland’s Native American community,” said Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Chair of the EMSWCD Board of Directors. “We look forward to working with NAYA to restore the site so that it supports the present Indigenous community and honors the past.”
“Oregon Community Foundation is honored to be a cornerstone investor in support of our trusted community partner, Native American Youth and Family Center, in their pursuit to stabilize and strengthen this place of great cultural significance,” said Lisa Mensah, President and CEO of Oregon Community Foundation.
While the pandemic put a pause on the campaign, it also provided an opportunity to make extensive repairs like replacing asbestos flooring and lead pipes throughout NAYA’s campus, ensuring the health and safety of the community.
As NAYA staff returned to working in person on campus in October 2022, a renewed effort to complete fundraising for Return to Neerchokikoo brought the campaign home with donations from an anonymous donor, the Heatherington Foundation, and the Ned & Sis Hayes Family Fund of Oregon Community Foundation.
“We are so pleased to join forces with other funders to complete NAYA’s inspiring campaign to secure a permanent, sustainable, environmentally protective and unencumbered home for Portland’s Native American community. Our father Ned was a neighbor to the NAYA campus for many years. We think he would be amazed and delighted by all that NAYA has created on the site and in the neighborhood. It feels like coming full circle to turn some of the fund’s equity back into NAYA’s land equity.”
–Statement from Anna Hayes Levin and Peter Hayes, advisors to the Ned & Sis Hayes Family Fund of Oregon Community Foundation
“That this important campaign was completed in my final weeks at NAYA is gratifying and reassuring–it was both wonderful and humbling to see our supporters’ enthusiasm for the campaign, and I can now leave NAYA knowing that it is in its best financial position, and it will always be a home to the Native community,” said Lumley.
Thank you to our wonderful partners, donors and supporters for believing and investing in our vision of a safe and permanent home for the Portland region’s Native community:
Anonymous Donor (x3)
The Collins Foundation
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
First Congregational Church
Montavilla United Methodist Church
Ned and Sis Hayes Family Fund of Oregon Community Foundation
Oregon Community Foundation
State of Oregon
Rebecca and Roger Warren
Thank you to our partners for their generous in kind support:
EC Company, Energy Trust of Oregon, Evergreen, Herc Rental, Honl Tree Care, IBEW Local 48, KPFF Architects, Masons Supply Co., O’Neill Construction, Pacific NW Council of Carpenters, Pioneer Sheet Metal, Walsh Construction, and Wood Mechanix.