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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Self Enhancement, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Human Services, Personal Social Services, Youth Development

Mission: Self Enhancement, Inc. is dedicated to guiding underserved youth to realize their potential. Working with schools, families, and community organizations, SEI provides opportunities for personal and academic success, bringing hope to individual young people and enhancing the quality of community life. In 2006, there were over 2300 children enrolled in SEI's programs that help inner-city students overcome barriers to success and close the achievement gap. SEI works with students from age 8 to 25 in eleven Portland Public Schools, in after school and summer programs, in its own charter middle school, and in entering and succeeding college. SEI involves parents in supporting their children's education and partners with over 60 community organizations to provide options and exposure.Recognized by the prestigious Edna McConnell Clark Foundation as one of the most effective youth development organizations in the nation, SEI helps instill in thousands of North and Northeast Portland youth a sense of pride, integrity, creativity, and options. Over two-thirds of SEI participants improve school attendance, grades and behavior. An average of 98% of SEI's high school freshmen graduate four years later and 85% of those go on to college,often the first in their family to do so.SEI's motto is LIFE HAS OPTIONS.

Results: 98% of SEI students graduate from HS 85% of SEI students pursue higher education 100% of SEI Parents complete Parent Skill Building Classes SEI serves 7,500 youth and families

Target demographics: Underserved youth and families

Geographic areas served: Northeast and North Portland, East County Portland

Programs: Community and Family After School In-School Summer Post Secondary (Post High School) SEI Charter School (The Academy) Sports Program The Arts Program Counseling Program

Community Stories

40 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Angelina R.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Since my daughter started the sixth grade at SEI academy she has become a straight A student, and I am in awe of her new commitment to be all she can be. She has found acceptance and self worth at the academy and is anxious not to miss a day at school and she doesn't want to be late. She loves the experience and fits in surrounded by peers like herself! Thank you SEI for helping my daughter be all she can be!!! Sincelely, Angelina, Proud Parent of sixth grade daughter at the academy...

Client Served

Rating: 5

There are moments in life when the combination of relationships, concepts and processes come together to significantly impact personal lives. SEI was that for me! In light of what I received as a young SEI participant 30 years ago, I was ecstatic to be in a position to contribute, organizationally, as a Board Member. Thus, I have witnessed both sides of this life-changing non-profit. SEI is a lifestyle. I felt loved right away and because of that reality, love became embedded into another part of my world. The relationship foundation captivated my attention and was solidified with being taught life concepts well beyond what attracted me there (basketball). Due to the evolution of the SEI brand, reach and effective tools over time, the mission is now all-inclusive and comprehensive so youth and their families benefit greatly. The culture provides a road map to WIN, but since the staff cares so much about you, they stay connected with you to ensure you realize your full potential through young adulthood.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I went to their fundraiser last year - as a community member who has worked with Tony Hopson on the Portland African American Leadership Forum. I had always heard great things - but never seen them as up close as this. They are doing a great job instilling a love of learning and a zest for life into their kids. And most amazing is the mutual love and respect between the children and all the adults who work there.

Greg21

Donor

Rating: 5

Problem - Portland public schools graduate just 59% of their students. This isn’t even close to the worst in the nation. The national average is better, but still pathetic. It’s worse for minorities. Studies have shown that only 25 to 40% of African American students meet basic reading, writing and math standards in the 10th grade. Outcomes for so called ‘at risk’ kids are worse still. Just consider some of the long term consequences of this reality. More importantly, imagine the positive social and economic impacts of dramatically turning this around in every community across the nation. Solution - For more than 25 years, SEI has been supporting kids in Portland Public Schools. Each year, they work with approximately 1,000 young adults. They start working with kids at age 8 and support them through age 25. Over 90% of SEI kids are minorities, and 90% are ‘at risk’.
For many kids, SEI is where they go for inspiration and unconditional support. SEI builds self-respect and develops positive attitudes and life skills that result in success in and beyond the classroom. Amazing results - For the past decade, the average graduation rate for SEI kids is 98%! It’s been 100% for the past three years. 85% of SEI kids go on to college or other post-secondary education. Many of these kids are the first in their family to do so. SEI is simply phenomenal at creating resilient young adults.

Please check them out. Their founder, team, kids, and results are simply awe inspiring.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a retired School Psychologist and Licensed Clinical Psychologist who worked in the Portland Public Schools for over 25 years. I first met Tony Hopson when he was a high school counselor and respected the work he did with the students. When he created Self-Enhancement, I was very pleased and excited about the possibilities. I became a donor and a fan of the work. When I was completing my doctoral dissertation on the topic of "Girls in Gangs" I was able to make arrangements to evaluate and interview a number of young women attending the Self-Enhancement summer program. The information I was able to gather made a significant contribution to the field of research about adolescent women. In addition, I was happy to learn that the Self-Enhancement program was working as a great deterrent to future gang involvement and other-at-risk behaviors. I especially value the mentoring and community support that is provided to the young people of Portland by Self-Enhancement. The youth who have benefited from this wonderful resource continue to give back to the community and to the young people following in their footsteps. I believe that Self-Enhancement is a perfect example of what happens when a great idea arises from within a community and is given support and nourishment to become a well-respected institution that meets a huge need. Dr. Sandy Ramirez

Donor

Rating: 5

Self Enhancement's programs are a success and they are highly supported in our region.

Donor

Rating: 5

Making change in the lives of children and their family, offering life choices and higher life expectations is a worthwhile dream. SEI makes that a reality and the proof is documented by the past and present recipients of SEI leadership. As a young man who grew up in North Portland and knew the consequences of negative youth distractions, I personally looked to leadership groups in the community for guidance. SEI has proven to me a valid investment in a community that needs solutions.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SEI has played a significant role in the success of my daughters. They were raised in a single parent home for the majority of their elementary and secondary school years. SEI supported them through high school and played a significant role in the graduation from college. SEI assisted me with airfare during the holiday and summer breaks; provided funds for books and other college fees. The organization has played a very important role in my family and I don't know what I would have done without the assistance from Pamphlin Program. Each year I dedicate my United Way contributions at my full time and part time jobs to SEI. It's the least I can do!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Take a tour and see for yourself. This organization changes lives, and the community. Their complete and total impact is hard to quantify as it is so far-reaching and effective. Don't be fooled by the success. SEI needs the financial support and more raving fans to spread the word.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I grew up in SEI, worked at SEI out of college, and even sent my children to SEI. I'm a SEI Lifer! I believe in their mission and believe they have a strong model to serve their community.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi ! My family is made up of one Bi-racial daughter & a single white mother family. SEI has been in my family life seence my daughter's 1 grade end, (2002) seen the start of summer progrom. Over the years Millie has got help in their after school program. In the after school program they help kids with their homework & they feed the after noon meal/ snack. They give them mentors & give them wonderful activities after school. In the summer they run summer school/actives. The kids in the summer get to do fun actives, they put kids on teams with tee-shirts, when the kids line up you see a rainbow of kids each color of the rainbow is a team. The kids learn to work as a team member & that kids from different schools can be friends & not rival gang members. The SEI try's to teach the SEI Standards are founded upon the principles of Integrity & Respect of each other & are self.

As a parent I have taken parenting classes & a parent support group. I have taken the domestic violence course & I have been given the opportunity to learn new healthy life skills. I have been able to learn The SEI Preamble & The SEI Standards also. Plus Learn the right way to be a Phenomenal Women & mother, independent women in to day world. By having a positive women role model from the older women (Primcella Smith & Ellon Manly & Mrs Wells & Charlotte Mitchell-Reese) in the SEI programs. SEI is like having a village raising are children.

As a family we have gotten water services and energy assistance to pay are family electric bill. We have been able to get holiday assistance such as food boxes and gifts for the holiday's. My daughter went to SEI Academy for her middle school Grades 6th, 7th, & 8th. Even through family separations SEI has been a rock hard foundation for support for our family.

Even though we have had a few set backs with each other, as a single parent home. We still have had SEI family supporting both our needs as a whole family. Make a safe place for my daughter while she & I to work throw are independent needs. As a family we have had to put are problems a side to help other family's from the SEI families village ( we choose as a family to go to funerals ). As she going throw the teenage years, she has been living in a 3 party home. My hope that she will grow up to be the most Phenomenal Women she deserve to be with help from The SEI Program. Thank You!! All

Client Served

Rating: 5

Me encanta esta organización. Han hecho mucho para mi familia y le señorita Mendoza siempre hace todo lo possible para ayudar y sacar adelenate a mi familia. Sin la ayuda de SEI mi familia y yo estuviéramos en una situación muy grave. Me han ayudado con la renta, con la dispensa, y con mi bill de la luz. Yo no me olvido de todo lo que han hecho por mi y estoy muy agradecida.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was unemployed and Margot Woods was there for me and my three kids. She was really helpful with resources and fnding for my re nt. She was very encouraging in finding a job and letting me know she was willing to help. I truly felt she cared!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a single mother who can honestly say SEI has treated me like family. Since joining the PCDS program for my son my parent educator has done everything in her power to help my family make ends meet and improve out overall life. I am forever grateful for all you do Maria. And a huge thank you to SEI, we need more organizations like this one!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was underemployed, working part time, for minimum wage, with no chance for advancement, no raises, no benefits. SEI helped me in many practical ways to help me gain the education I needed to be more marketable in my profession. I was very impressed by the program, and my case worker, Margot Woods, whom I will always think of as a compassionate friend.

Client Served

Rating: 4

I was homeless, in between jobs and extremely depressed. I was referred to SEI through a family counselor myself and family were working with. I had an appointment with SEI and felt immediate hope! Over the next few weeks myself and kids were placed into transitional housing through PCRI. SEI agreed to pay my rent for several months. I was able to get back on my feet with a full time job and on my way to regaining my once successful life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SEI is an amazing organization that I truly loved being apart of as an intern. Volunteering my time with the Community and Family Programs section was an experience I couldn't have gained anywhere else. The staff are very welcoming and are always working hard to get their clients and families the best help possible. They offer multiple services for people all over the community and wish them nothing but the best!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I came to Margot for help with rental assistance. She was able to help me that month, and really made me feel so grateful. A few weeks later she contacted me with a new program where the agency she worked with would help me with 6 months of partial payment for rental assistance. It made me feel like someone actually cared. I know she had me on her mind, and that when this opportunity came up she offered it to me. I can say with 100% centainty, that if I had not had that asistance, my 16 year old son and I would have been homeless. I was waiting to hear from disability and had $440 of income a month with $860 rent due. Margot was there to encourage me mentally and to let me know there was someone out there who did care about me and my son's well being. I have a growth on my brain that was causing severe headaches and depresion at the time. I can not thank Margot enough for the help her and her agency has given me. Thank you Margot for being a friend that I needed, sometimes a shoulder to cry on, and for reaching out to me and offering me the assistance you did. I will NEVER forget that. God Bless you all.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Im extremely grateful for the assistance i recieved today, wonderful staff!! Thank you.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The experience I have here at SEI is over the top. The work they do here for the community is amazing. Thank you SEI for all your help.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've had several opportunities to see the young participants from SEI programs in a number of events and activities. They have never failed to represent the program with distinction. SEI is a real gem in the Portland youth service and leadership development community.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son enjoys the playgroup enjoys the other kids. The group has a lot of services they provide. i would recommend this playgroup to others parents and children to interact with on another in a good place.

Client Served

Rating: 4

This program has helped my kids and me a lot especially since my kids are really shy, and lately they've opened up and have interacted with the other kids. The people who are doing this make you feel welcomed and very comfortable. Everyday the staff will approach me and share their love and care for me and my family.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is a great program that has helped me learn how to bond through play with my children. They have a lot of fun here and it is a great learning environment. It is a great way for them to get out and meet new kids their age and for me to meet new parents that I can grow a bond with. Thank you for being awesome.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a part of the PCDS program and have been helped through my wonderful parent educator, Maria Mendoza, beyond my wildest dreams. She has gone above and beyond to help my family thrive. I can say with certainty that my family would not be where it's at now if it were not for SEI.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am very thankful for all the staff at SEI and their dedication to our children. My grandchildren (3) and my stepdaughter have received services from SEI and attended summer programs and inschool program for the last 10 years. My friends children have also benefitied from the services offered at SEI. May God continue to bless you all and your mission to help our children. Barnia Linn Moody-barnialinnmoody@yahoo.com

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

SEI has been a life saver in our building! The coordinators are very responsive to the students and staff needs. They've been a great partner to work with.

Freda B.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of visiting the school facility in Portland OR, May of 2011. I was amazed at first, of how respectful the students were to me, staff and their peers. Their interaction with each other in the facility show a dynamic of commaradery. The staff while being professional also gave a sense of being personal to the students, showing them that they not only cared about their education and future but were concerned about them. I was so impressed that I wished that such a program was available for my son who was a Senior in a Pennsylvania High School. The success rate of the students going on to higher education was impressionable as well. Good Job! I give this Corporation 5 stars!

Phil R.

Donor

Rating: 5

SEI delivers!! I've been in the building over a hundred times and have always left feeling better about life than when I entered! The staff shows love to all who participate but especially the kids. A structured program starting with kids in the second grade who need help and staying with them through young adulthood and becoming "positive contributing citizens" has demonstrated success since its inception in 1981.

Sue_18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a large family of boldly passionate AND focused leaders who do many things extremely well. They have a clear and relevant vision and mission. They have engaged the talents of community, parents, teachers and kids to create a tribe of committed action leaders. They do what they say they are going to do. In a sea of organizations with good intentions, this is without a doubt one of the very best.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The summer program provides and postive safe place to be.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a retired music professor from Portland Sate University. For the last 10 years before my retirement, ( 1993-2003), I directed a one-week music camp "Let Music Be the Food of Peace" at PSU for 30 children (ages 8-10) from SEi. This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The people at SEI were wonderful to work with and the staff members were always present for me. They were enthusiastic, helpful, communicative and supportive. And not to mention the best part - the children. Such a joy to be with respectful, creative, and definitely "individual" kids. I learned a great deal from them! The camp alwaysended with a concert performed by the children and their college student mentors showing what they had all learned throughout the week. At the final concert in 2003, there was standing room only! The relationships made during that time continue to live on. For example, the piano scholarship winner from the 2003 camp, who is now a Junior at OSU will be visiting with me next week. Thank you SEI for all that you do for our community!

Bobbi L.

Donor

Rating: 5

This charity is one of three local charities we have made a commitment to. Have been involved for fifteen years as have enjoyed their success story and can visually see the commitment and difference it has made to the community! We give a large amount each year and feel comfortable that the funds are being used properly and the children of the community and the community are directly being served. Wish more non-profits were run this way. Director and staff are local, committed and driven!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to experience the transformative nature of the Self Enhancement, Inc., philosophy over many years from different perspectives. First, as a middle school principal my school was one of the first schools to become involved with SEI in the early years. What was different from the very beginning was an approach that was not about delivering services to "clients," but a clear focus on establishing a personal commitment to individual students coupled with presenting them with a code of beliefs and values that were lived daily by the entire organization. It created a culture of achievement and communicated to students that expectations were high, but personal commitment to their success was steadfast. From the beginning SEI created a unique culture that has continued throughout its organizational life. Later, in my role as a central office administrator, I had the opportunity to witness the role of SEI as community partner and advocate. SEI had established itself as a voice for the needs of the community, especially students, and came from a position of strength by being open about results achieved, sharing services and resources as a community partner and creating a solid, efficient and effective organizational presence that literally changed the neighborhood. In my more recent roles of state level administrator and of university faculty member, I continue to see the role of SEI advocating for change but stepping up to be a part of the solution. In the most recent round of state school reform initiatives, SEI correctly identified the lack of opportunity for communities of color to participate in public input sessions because opportunities for such participation had not been developed by state policy makers. SEI stepped in to, not only, advocate for the opportunity to provide input, but also, to put their facilities and direct support on the line for this opportunity to happen. These efforts provided significant and important changes to new state school governance and accountability measures to require more use of disaggregatred data in school performance measures. SEI has a long, positive record of success with students, serving the community and influencing key policy questions. It is an outstanding organization.

Suntrice M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have a child that is in SEI. I had to go into the hospital for emergency surgery and i had only received 60 percen tof my earnings from my job at this time I needed help with my rent SEI stepped in and helped me out. This organization is so amazing, not only do they help the childern in the community but they help their families. I am so blessed to have this organization in my corner, not just for a mentor for my child , but as a liasion to the childern in the community. it takes a village to raise a child and that is what SEI is doing helping the community raise our childern of the future.

Rebekah6

Donor

Rating: 4

SEI, Inc makes a real difference in the lives of young Americans. These are children that otherwise may be left behind. The kids learn to be valuable members of society and will pass that on to other children. I am happy that I have learned to about what an impact that they are making and will continue to support the program for years to come.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Self Enhancement, Inc. continues to provide life changing services for youth and their families in the community of Portland Oregon as well as Miami Florida!

Donor

Rating: 5

Time and time again I have seen how SEI contributes positively to the lives of children and their families by providing support, guidance, enrichment and a place to call home. I particularly like that those who have benefited from SEI return to share their stories and support.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

SEI is an invaluable member of our Portland community. They change young people lives in the services and mentors they provide.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We worked with SEI for a service project, bringing out PCC volunteers to serve alongside the SEI Academy students. It was a wonderful experience working with Jackie Meyer and the enthusiastic students to beautify the center grounds. It was clear that the students were well supported by SEI, and it was wonderful for our own students and staff to work alongside them to benefit the neighborhood. SEI is also pivotal in the Middle College program at Jefferson, which has a strong connection to PCC as the students receive college credit for high school courses.