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My Visit to Elevate Oregon: Witnessing the Impact of Youth Empowerment

My Visit to Elevate Oregon: Witnessing the Impact of Youth Empowerment



I recently had the opportunity to visit Elevate Oregon and see first-hand the impact it is having on the lives of young people in the area. In this blog post, I want to share my experience and reflect on the importance of youth empowerment, particularly in underserved communities.


About Elevate Oregon

top-headshot-photographer-nadia-chapman-00005-4-1Elevate Oregon was founded in 2010 with the goal of empowering young people from underprivileged communities in the Portland area. Its mission is to provide a safe and supportive environment for youth to learn, grow, and develop the skills and confidence they need to achieve their life goals.


The organization offers a variety of programs that target different age groups and needs. Through long-term, culturally responsive instruction and mentoring support, Elevate empowers young people in grades 3-12 toward success and leadership, with the goal that they become a strong positive influence in the community.


One of the unique aspects of Elevate Oregon is its emphasis on long-term mentorship. Each student in the program is paired with a mentor who provides one-on-one support, guidance, and advocacy over a number of years. This mentorship model has proven to be highly effective in fostering strong relationships and helping students stay on track with their goals.  Another unique aspect of Elevate Oregon is that they are an in-school mentoring program and the Elevate students receive an elective credit. This, combined with long-term mentorship, is what makes the program highly effective


Since its inception, Elevate Oregon has had a significant impact on the lives of young people in the area. In 2020, the organization served over 500 students across its programs, with an average graduation rate of 95%.  A recent highlight for Elevate was the 100% graduation rate for the class of '22, something the Elevate staff and students are extremely proud of.


My Visit to Elevate Oregon

Elevate_oregon-classroom-nadia-chapman-visitWhen I first arrived at Parkrose High School, I was initially shocked by the locked doors; growing up in England, there was little to no threat of school shootings. While navigating my way into the school property, it resonated with me the issues faced by today's youth around America, especially in underprivileged communities.


Once greeted by one of the Elevate Oregon mentors, my mood was instantly uplifted! Anthony was upbeat and had a bounce in his step, something I later found to be a common trait among all the Elevate Oregon staff; a short while later I understood why.


I had the privilege of sitting in on two Elevate classes, 9th and 11th grade. In each class, my main goal was to observe the great work these mentors were doing. I was invited to speak a little about my role as a photographer and business owner, as well as how I got here. The conversation with the students was varied, we discussed everything from business processes to camera settings!


In the 11th-grade class, each student talked about what they enjoyed most about being in the Elevate program. The most common answer was "Having the opportunity to go into various companies and learn about job roles". Thanks to the amazing Elevate staff, the students had been able to visit companies such as Nike, Portland Trail Blazers, Weiden+Kennedy, and Amazon. This was unheard of during my school days, but it would have been so valuable in helping me navigate important life decisions, such as what to study and where to focus my time.


I recall one student in particular, Jayden. From the moment I arrived, he asked non-stop questions about a career as a photographer; "how did you get into it?", "can you support yourself on a photographer's income?", "how should I go about exploring a career in street photography?". These were my questions only a few years ago!  His mentor later told me that it was the most engaged Jayden had been in the career discussions so far.  To be a part of that was a blessing.


Speaking with Jayden, and the rest of the Elevate students, left me feeling a number of emotions, but most of all hopeful.  I feel that as part of the Elevate program, they have the framework to nurture their resourcefulness, fortitude, networks, and most importantly, their self-worth.


Empowering young people is one of the most important things we can do to build a stronger and more equitable society. By providing them with the support, resources, and opportunities they need to succeed, we can help them realize their full potential and become agents of positive change in their communities.


How You Can Help

I'm excited to be a part of the Elevate Oregon annual fundraiser on March 16th, 2023. Attending the event is a great opportunity to learn more about Elevate Oregon, meet the students, and have a share in this great work.

Learn more about the annual fundraiser here.

Learn more about Elevate Oregon here.


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