Northwest Academy’s proximity to arts, cultural, and civic organizations shapes who we are and aids in our goal of teaching students to find their intellectual, artistic, and civic voices. At the same time, being downtown also means that we are up close and personal with downtown realities, including houselessness, drug use, mental illness, and fall out from political demonstrations.
Over the past year, our campus was somewhat overwhelmed with a houselessness crisis exacerbated by the global pandemic. Downtown Portland is eerily empty, opening up space for those looking for a place to set up temporary residence as they seek services and shelter. While protests downtown did not reach our streets or buildings, you will find some of our windows boarded up due to unchecked vandalism. We’ve noticed that things are slowly changing as the city is working to get downtown back on its feet this spring, but we wanted to make sure to address these issues, as we understand the concern from families regarding the safety of their students as they reenter the community. We will not solely rely on the city’s reopening to magically restore our neighborhood back to pre-COVID days—Northwest Academy is resolved to playing an active role in the revitalization of our campus and downtown community.
Northwest Academy’s Commitment to Downtown Portland and Our Students
Our Commitment to Safety:
Northwest Academy is first and foremost committed to the safety of our students, faculty, and staff. We have always been a downtown campus and for over 20 years, regularly dealing with the issues that have recently been intensified. We are also pleased to say that we have successfully navigated this environment and have not had any safety issues arise during this time—but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t constantly thinking about them. Our community comes first and we have created and updated the safety protocols and procedures for our community as we move through campus and the city.
Our Commitment to Downtown:
Over the last 25 years, the downtown community has become integral in our school’s identity and our student’s growth and education. The proximity to the arts, the community connections we’ve made, and the ability for students to patronize local businesses have contributed to our school’s uniqueness. Being downtown is in our DNA. It is our culture. It is who we are. We wouldn’t be Northwest Academy without this mutually beneficial relationship with our neighbors and neighborhood.
Our Commitment to Education, Advocacy, and Justice:
Northwest Academy will not solve Portland’s houselessness crisis, put an end to food insecurity, or prevent drug use, but we do feel strongly that our community members fully understand the complexities of it (and maybe one of our students WILL actually be integral to solving these problems!) We believe that people in crisis need support, not shunning, and we do not wish to add to the stress and displacement of our houseless neighbors. We will continue to educate our community by strengthening our relationships with our social service partners, providing educational opportunities for our students and families, and working with the city departments that are best equipped to manage and provide aid for these very delicate issues and communities.
Whether you are a current family concerned about getting our city back on track, or a prospective parent who is troubled by the state of downtown, or a student who misses their daily trip to the pizza window, we understand. We are itching to get back to school and to work with our community to make sure that we’re all taken care of and safe. Thank you for trusting us and for your patience as we navigate this new chapter at Northwest Academy.