Portland, OR. During the Covid-19 pandemic, students can’t gather around the table like they used to. But Elevate Oregon staff members are working with students remotely and continue to be available around the clock. This dedication is nothing new. Launched in 2010 and inspired by a similar “Colorado Uplift” program, Elevate Oregon works with students and their schools in order to build relationships with those struggling to succeed. Largely organized and lead by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) within the Portland community, the program is aimed at benefiting BIPOC youth. With its primary goal of reaching struggling youth through interpersonal relations, Elevate Oregon’s effect on the community is inspiring to many.
In just four years the mentorship program at Parkrose High School in NE Portland, has seen the graduation rate of students skyrocketed from 55% to 90%. To attain this increase, Elevate Oregon partners with the school and offer students an “in-house” elective classroom. Rather than attempting to replace the school curriculum, they seek to build off of the school’s foundation. Within this class, struggling students work one-on-one with qualified and passionate mentors to find out what they need to be successful during high school and beyond. Paul Morris, Deputy Director at Elevate Oregon, says that this approach “allows students to fail safely” and that “Elevate is in the business of offering second chances to these youth.”
The in-school approach allows students easier access to the help they need without having to attend after-school programs, something that many students already in a chaotic state often can’t swing. Further, students are offered an incentive of end-of-the-year trips/parties for maintaining a high GPA.
Now in 2021, 11 years since Elevate Oregon had started its first program at Parkrose High School, it is serving over 600 students annually and has expanded its mentorship program to include students as young as elementary level as well as students transitioning between grades or schools. Mentors could potentially work with students for 8-9 years, building lifelong relationships with youth living within a chaotic world, who could benefit the most from the stability being offered.
Elevate Oregon’s interpersonal-focus is uplifting the BIPOC youth community here in Portland through its goal of connecting and building one-on-one relationships. Program leaders say it’s useful for a struggling high school student to have someone who cares. A listening ear and an open heart can go a long way.
Elevate Oregon functions entirely off of their mentors and donations. You can donate to this inspiring program here.
About Elevate Oregon from their website:
Elevate Oregon is an empowering, efficient, year-round mentoring program centered on raising graduation rates and post-secondary enrollment, while also striving to create “generational firsts”, offering students the tools they need to become future leaders in our region.