Elevate Oregon’s Mentorship Program Lifts Struggling Students During Pandemic

Elevate Oregon’s Mentorship Program Lifts Struggling Students During Pandemic

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.

Nike Employee Grant Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation Awards $250,000 to 25 Oregon/SW Washington Nonprofits & Schools

Nike Employee Grant Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation Awards $250,000 to 25 Oregon/SW Washington Nonprofits & Schools

Beaverton, April 15th, 2014. NIKE, Inc. has announced that grants totaling $250,000 will go to 25 local nonprofits and schools through the Nike Employee Grant Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation’s latest funding cycle. (Grant applications due June 1 for next round of funding.)

Representatives from select Nike Employee Grant Fund recipient organizations (Parks Foundation, Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation and Health Center, Elevate Oregon, Rosie’s Room, See Ya Later Foundation, McMinnville School District #40, I Have a Dream Foundation and Sabin School) with Kathy Webb (center). (Photo credit, NIKE)

The Nike Employee Grant Fund supports projects that encourage physical activity in meaningful ways, especially those that create early positive experiences for children through physical education, sports and play. Since its launch in 2010, the Fund has provided almost 200 grants to organizations and schools that contribute to making Oregon and Southwest Washington great places to live and work.

“Nike believes in the power of human potential and we are proud to support these 25 outstanding organizations, whose innovative programs are creating positive change in our community,” said Kathy Webb, Nike Community Impact Manager. “These grants also provide an important opportunity to connect Nike employees with our communities, not only through the grant-making process but through continued volunteerism with the organizations. Together we can create strong and healthy communities.”

This cycle’s award recipients feature a wide variety of organizations in greater Portland, including Elevate Oregon, a nonprofit that uses outdoor adventure and athletic activities with urban youth to inspire school success, leadership and self-reliance; and McMinnville School District #40 in support of its JumpStart – Ready for Kindergarten program for low-income families.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Nike Employee Grant Fund for helping strengthen our organization and community. Our students live in an urban environment where activities like rock climbing, snowboarding, camping and river rafting are not available to them. With Nike’s support, 150 at-risk high school students will learn how to overcome challenges though these outdoor adventures – giving them the skills and confidence they can draw on to overcome obstacles in their everyday lives,” said Joe Bergen, Executive Director of Elevate Oregon.

Nike employees are deeply involved with the Nike Employee Grant Fund grant-making process. With Oregon Community Foundation oversight, a Nike employee advisory committee develops grant recommendations. Employees at Nike World Headquarters continue their involvement by volunteering their time and professional experience to help the winning nonprofits achieve their objectives.

Next Funding Cycle Open Now

Applications are due June 1 for the next round of Nike awards, with $300,000 in cash grants being offered to nonprofits and schools in the greater Portland area (Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Yamhill, and Columbia counties in Oregon and Clark County in southwest Washington). Grants are one-year awards totaling between $5,000 and $20,000 each. 80 percent of grant awards support organizations and projects that are creating a world where physical activity, play and sports are highly valued, and 20 percent support organizations and projects that address community challenges through innovative community-based solutions.

Applications should be submitted online by June 1 at www.oregoncf.org/nike.

Nike Employee Grant Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation Awardees

The following 25 organizations received grants with this funding cycle:

Organization Project Description
Ackerman Academy (Canby) Reduce barriers to health and wellness by creating a sports, fitness and nutrition program for at-risk youth and their families.
Albertina Kerr Centers Foundation (Portland) Create an outdoor sport area in secure residential psychiatric treatment center for teenage youth with severe mental health challenges.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area Create sustained sports and fitness activities across six Boys & Girls Club sites that engage youth in developing lifelong healthy habits.
Bridger PTA (Portland) Support fitness through physical education by providing equipment that will keep students moving during class.
CASA For Children, Inc. (Portland) Provide a Court Appointed Special Advocate, known as a CASA, for 67 more foster children this year.
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (Portland) Provide stable housing for homeless youth attending Beaverton School District high schools, so they can thrive in health and wellness, graduate, and pursue life goals.
Elevate Oregon (Portland) Provide new experiences for at-risk 8th-12th grade students using outdoor adventure and athletic activities to inspire school success, leadership and self-reliance.
Girls Inc. of Northwest Oregon (Portland) Support Project BOLD, a violence-prevention and self-defense program that addresses the individual girl within the context of larger community and societal issues.
Grow Portland (Portland) Empower the community by growing healthy food, building and managing community gardens on under-utilized urban land.
I Have a Dream Foundation – Oregon (Portland) Support year-round sports and fitness opportunities for low-income children as part of the Dreamer School Project to provide comprehensive support to help children succeed in school.
Kinship House (Portland) Create an outdoor space to help children move, learn how to heal from trauma, and develop healthy body awareness and calming techniques.
McMinnville School District #40 Provide child development instruction, coaching and resources to low-income parents of children ages zero to five, through the Jumpstart program.
Meals on Wheels People (Portland) Support EnhanceFitness, an evidence-based exercise program for seniors that emphasizes strength, flexibility, improving balance and fall prevention.
Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp (Portland) Create an adaptive playground in which campers of all abilities can gain independence and confidence through the power of play.
Multiple Sclerosis Society of Portland Support the wellbeing of individuals living with MS in Oregon, by providing air-conditioning units to alleviate heat-induced MS symptoms.
Parks Foundation (Vancouver) Provide youth in Clark County the opportunity to participate in recreation programs offered through Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department.
Portland After-School Tennis & Education, Inc. Make the sport of tennis accessible to disadvantaged children and provide them with positive role models, tutoring and life skills through neighborhood tennis programs.
Regional Arts & Culture Council (Portland) Bring integrated arts education to every child in Portland-Metro school districts, regardless of language, neighborhood, or income.
Rosie’s Room (Beaverton) Transition from an all-volunteer organization to paid staff in order to serve the homeless and prevent their return to the streets.
Sabin School PTA (Portland) Provide a safe, functional environment for students and community, including physical education, youth soccer and baseball, by restoring the Sabin School field.
See Ya Later Foundation (McMinnville) Provide youth with an opportunity to grow as athletes and as people through See Ya Later Kids Camps.
SOLV (Portland) Provide underserved youth with hands-on, science-based, service-learning opportunities at nearby rivers and streams, while also teaching them to become lifelong stewards.
Straightway Services (Portland) Offer a basketball camp experience for children with autism and underserved youth.
Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation and Health Center (Cornelius) Promote wellness, with a focus on healthy activity and nutrition, for Hispanic children and families in Washington County.
YMCA of Columbia-Willamette (Portland) Develop the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) program at 46 YMCA of Columbia-Willamette childcare programs in five counties.


About NIKE, Inc.

NIKE, Inc. based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories and Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories. For more information, visit www.nikeinc.com and follow @Nike.

The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF)

The mission of The Oregon Community Foundation is to improve life in Oregon and promote effective philanthropy. OCF works with individuals, families, businesses and organizations to create charitable funds to support the community causes they care about. Through these funds OCF awarded more than $66 million in grants and scholarships in 2012. Information at oregoncf.org.