In 2022, the NOW District Office received $500,000 in PLACE funds to support K-12 Lutheran School ministry in the greater Portland area. They launched the Lutheran School Encouragement Grant and invited Lutheran churches and schools within a 30-mile radius of downtown Portland to submit Letters of Inquiry. In early 2023, it was determined that two ministries – Christ the Vine Lutheran Church & School in Damascus, Oregon and Forest Hills Lutheran Christian School in Cornelius, Oregon – would be awarded these funds.
The purpose of the Lutheran School Encouragement Grant was to aid in starting new K-12 Lutheran Schools or expanding the capacity of existing school ministries by adding new elementary and/or high school grade levels. The funds were made available as part of the legacy of Portland Lutheran School. To be eligible, applicants had to meet two main stipulations:
- New Lutheran School Proposal: The ministry must have a plan to begin a new Lutheran School that offers elementary and/or high school grade levels. This could include starting from scratch or gradually expanding grade levels over a multi-year period.
- Current School Ministry Expansion: Alternatively, the grant was available to current school ministries that were planning to add new elementary and/or high school levels to their existing operations. This could involve constructing additional classrooms or facilities to accommodate the expansion.
Christ the Vine and Forest Hills both applied for the grant. NOW District executives carefully evaluated the submissions and found their proposals to have merit, be well-designed, and practical in their approach to expanding Lutheran education.
Ultimately, the $500,000 in funding was split into two larger grants, with 3/5 of the funds awarded to Christ the Vine and 2/5 of the funds awarded to Forest Hills. This distribution reflected the different nature of their projects, with Christ the Vine adding grade levels that did not previously exist and Forest Hills increasing their capacity by adding classrooms at levels they already offered.
Christ the Vine started enrolling students for a combined kindergarten/first grade classroom for the 2023-2024 school year, with plans to add one grade level each subsequent year. Forest Hills continued its work on the new building addition, aiming for completion and occupancy in the fall of 2025. This kind of growth is a tremendous blessing – not only to the schools themselves, but to the communities they serve and to the greater NOW District.
Keep watching our website for updates on these projects as they move ever closer to completion.