After spending much of the last decade performing a budgetary balancing act, Portland-based nonprofit the Circus Project has received a large safety net from Cirque du Soleil, in the form of a $10,000 grant.

The money will allow the organization to launch a new project that will engage marginalized youth by teaching them everything from tumbling to navigating the flying trapeze.

"We are so proud that the Circus Project was one of only three U.S. recipients," Kirsten Collins, the Circus Project's executive director, said in a press release. "This grant will fund a year-long, social justice focused performance group for out Pathways students."

A circus performer and therapist founded the Circus Project 10 years ago as a vehicle to empower homeless youth and young adults. Initially serving just a handful of people, it's since grown into a hub for contemporary circus arts with classes for the general public and a regular showcase for works in progress. Members of the Pathways program, who will benefit from the grant, receive a training plan as well as access to resources such as bus fare, athletic wear and mentorships.

"We offer multiple approaches to address the diverse spectrum of needs and abilities and provide opportunities for continued engagement and advancement within our recreational and pre-professional programs," Collins said. "We've learned that finances are only one of the possible barriers people face."

The grant-funded performance group will meet for a year to practice physical skills and explore issues of systemic oppression. You'll be able to see the result of all that work with an eventual public capstone performance. In the meantime, the Circus Project is still recruiting students to participate in the program and seeking donations to cover the remaining costs.