Image courtesy Ethos Music Center.

Making music education accessible for all students. That’s the mission of Ethos Music Center, a North Portland-based music nonprofit. Their multi-pronged outreach focuses on not only providing individual and group instrument lessons — available through sliding scale fees — but also through targeted programs to reach low-income, BIPOC and immigrant communities in the Portland area and Oregon at large. “We take our lead from the students themselves, the schools and community advocates who tell us what their obstacles and barriers are and we work together to create solutions,” says Crystal de Alba, the executive director. 

Two of the organization’s signature outreach programs are Music Corps, an after-school program at 150 schools for Portland students, and Pass the Mic, which offers culturally sensitive music education for immigrant youth. Both programs have helped more than 5,000 students. Last summer, Ethos Music partnered with David Douglas High School in Hazelwood to provide a music class. “Many of the students are taking mandatory ESL classes and are essentially precluded from traditional electives because the schools can’t afford the translation services, among other barriers,” says de Alba. “The opportunity to gain a course credit not only helps with graduation, it also helps to begin to address some of the inequities students face in the school system through no fault of their own.” There are several volunteer opportunities at Ethos Music, too, including for teens 16 and older. Needs include cleaning and repairing instruments — of which you can also donate — assisting with class programs and more. “As long as our students are safe and feel welcome, we are really open to whatever best accommodates their needs.” Visit ethos.org to learn more.

Tiffany Hill

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