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Word is Bond began with a conversation among friends in 2016 to address the shootings of unarmed African American men by law enforcement across the country, and take steps to prevent that from happening in Portland.

Led by retired businessman Steve Young, the group included several fellow Grant High School alumni, including retired business executive Lou Jaffe, Joe McFerrin II (President/CEO of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and Rosemary Anderson High School), longtime local educator Michael “Chappie” Grice, and retired fire fighter Chip Kessler. These local Portlanders were joined by Sergeant Steve Collins, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and 22 years as a member of the Portland Police Bureau Bomb Squad and Gang Enforcement Team.

After several months of meetings, discussions, and planning with additional program partner, Northwest Outward Bound School, a pilot program was launched and successfully concluded in the summer of 2017.

The Word is Bond pilot consisted of eight interns and ten officers participating in a series of experiences over six weeks. Each day is intentionally designed and facilitated by educator and Executive Director, Lakayana Drury, and Northwest Outward Bound Instructor, Tami Ankeny. Curriculum is based on a foundation of building trust and mutual understanding among participants in an effort to build positive relationships and affect change in their communities.