Greek for character, ethos refers to the power of music to influence the emotions, behaviors and actions of both those who listen and participate. Charles Lewis founded Ethos in 1998 when he was a graduate student at Harvard by taking his master's thesis on how to create an innovative community-based music school and bringing it to life. Dismayed by budget cuts that were slashing music ed programs in schools throughout the country, Lewis returned home after he learned Portland was hit especially hard—claiming a mere two music teachers for every 1,000 students. Sleeping on a friend’s couch and going without pay for a year and half, Lewis started Ethos on his credit card. Today, Ethos is one of the largest arts education sources in the state and is dedicated to teaching music to underserved youth, regardless of location and income, with offerings in both urban and rural communities. With its urban outreach program Music Corps, music lessons are conducted on-site at more than 150 schools and community centers, while the Rural Outreach Project works in partnership with AmeriCorps and Oregon Volunteers and reaches more than 2,400 students each year throughout rural Oregon. Not only does Ethos bring the power of music to communities, the organization has also renovated the spaces it inhabits to improve the communities themselves, including converting boarded-up and abandoned buildings into thriving community centers featuring green improvements like solar panels, eco-roofs, rainwater collection, wind turbines, a community garden, and public access to WiFi and computers. Engaged in the local community as well as music education and sustainable programming—in the form of music lessons, group classes, camps, multicultural performances and workshops—Ethos reaches more than 7,000 students annually across Oregon. Andrea Janda, Nov. 2014
Nonprofits & Organizations > Nonprofits > Education
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A Guide to All-Ages Music in PortlandChris Young - Aug 3, 2016
Although access to all-ages events may be tough to come by at times, there are still plenty of tireless advocates working to bolster the scene in our city.
Music Matters: The State of Music EducationAndrea Janda - Jul 7, 2014
The state of music education in Portland and the local nonprofits that are increasing accessibility. Photo by Robert Delahanty.