One America - MultiCultural Resource Center

Program: MultiCultural Resource Center, Portland, OR
Contact(s): Karen Ettinger, Director: (503) 725-8191 or (503) 635-3882
Purpose: To provide the people and material resources necessary for schools and communities to promote racial harmony by building bridges of understanding between people and celebrating diversity through education

Background Program Operations Outcomes


In September 1987, a group of parents in Lake Oswego, Oregon, a community with little racial diversity, established a MultiCultural Resource Center (MCRC) to involve parents, teachers and students together in valuing the contributions of people regardless of age, physical disability, ethnic background, or gender. They believed that multicultural education lays the foundation for attaining educational equity and the academic success for all children. Since that time, the MCRC, acting as a central clearinghouse for the community, gathered material to share with schools and communities. In January 1997, the MCRC became a guest of Portland State University's Office of International Affairs and collaborated with other organizations to create Building Bridges, a Community Resource Center for International and Multicultural Education.

Program Operations

The MultiCultural Resource Center has developed several educational programs and resources to meet the growing needs of schools and communities in the Portland metropolitan area. The center has created an extensive library of multicultural curricula and resource guides, an international speakers program, and school-wide multicultural immersion programs on African, Asian, Pacific Island, Native American, and Latin American culture. Some other programs that the center sponsors are the "Cross Town/Cross Culture," which builds friendships between people formerly isolated from one another, and "Bridge Boxes/Bridge People," which empowers ethnic communities to educate young people about their cultures. All of these programs are coordinated by the MCRC director with the support of the board of directors and volunteer students, parents and community members.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Last year MCRC served almost 30,000 people, including teacher candidates from three local schools, Americorps volunteers, youth organizations and businesses. The center received the Community Harmony Recognition Award from the Metropolitan Human Rights Center in October 1997 in recognition for the Cross Town/Cross Culture Program, which brought over 100 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students and parents together at PSU to create a cultural celebration. The center has established partnerships in the city to help further their mission: two racially diverse churches planned and hosted the center's first fundraiser--the Celebration of Africa--in fall 1997, and MCRC worked with community leaders in January 1998 to develop a week of educational activities focused on three Asian cultures.

-More West-Page 3

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