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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

7 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...



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.


Rating: 5

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


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.

Phil R.


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.

Bobbi L.


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!



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.


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.