Nonprofit Suspends Retail Cannabis Grant Program After City Funding Dries Up

Prosper Portland is holding back funding, NuProject said in an email to grant recipients.

For over four years, a Portland nonprofit has provided grants to Black and Brown cannabis entrepreneurs to help kick-start their businesses. It did so through Prosper Portland’s Cannabis Business Development Equity Program, which is funded with money from the city’s share of revenue from cannabis taxes.

But Prosper Portland has paused funding for the program since this summer, says Jeannette Ward Horton, who runs the nonprofit NuProject. No new grants have been given out since July.

“We’re in limbo,” she says.

In an Oct. 3 email blast to organization supporters, she explained that Prosper Portland was having “legal concerns with giving money to cannabis businesses even if it’s passed through another organization.”

“This potential about-face is incredibly frustrating since we’ve been making these grants and loans with Prosper’s full support since 2018,” Ward Horton adds.

If her understanding of Prosper’s reasoning is correct, it would signal a significant concern for several city programs. As recently as July, the Portland City Council approved $450,000 for emergency relief to cannabis businesses hamstrung by vandalism and armed robberies.

Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency, has not responded to a request for comment first made on Oct. 7.

Christine Walsh, co-owner of Majik Edibles, says a NuProject grant she received earlier this year saved her business. “The Prosper-funded grant was the only way our small business survived,” she tells WW.