The mission of ELSO Inc. (Formerly Camp ELSO) is to teach and frame STEAM and nature based education through a lens that centers and elevates the stories, ways of knowing, individual needs, and lived experiences of Black and Brown communities.
Bottom Line for Portland
BIPoC, LGBTQ+, disabled, and femme identifying students have been systemically denied representation and inclusion in STEAMED education and career pathways. COVID-19 has amplified existing inequities in various systems that disproportionately impact BIPoC communities, including education and employment inequities. The structural racism that runs through these systems leaves BIPoC communities more vulnerable to educational opportunity gaps. Many Portland families served by ELSO are experiencing this first hand through food insecurity, social isolation, uncertainty about schooling, and are struggling to make ends meet. Your gift to ELSO builds organizational capacity and funds ELSO’s youth empowerment programs: Wayfinders Day Camps, Your Street Your Voice, EmpowHER, and Tappin' Roots Internships. Each of these programs specialize in removing barriers and ensuring every child has a positive and self-affirming experience in their own community. In 2019-20, of the 600+ youth, youth adults, and families served in the Portland metro area, 96% of participants identified as Youth of Color, 60% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 20% were learning English as an additional language. ELSO creates safe and welcoming environments where all participants can see themselves as future scientists, educators, and climate justice advocates, regardless of their economics, identity, or relationship with traditional classroom settings.
The programs are great! My daughter gets to learn from adults that look like her, also, I like what she's learning about, and the exposure to all of the different outdoor field trips." - Wayfinders Parent
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
As a Black-led/founded organization, Justice-Equity-Diversity-Inclusion (JEDI) is inextricably linked to all aspects of ELSO’s mission, vision and program activities. While many mainstream organizations struggle to incorporate JEDI into their programming, this is ELSO’s greatest strength. Our infrastructure is interwoven with racial equity, providing authentic opportunities for BIPoC communities to determine their own needs, identifying assets and barriers and creating true leadership roles and decision-making power within the organization at all levels. We know that when BIPoC youth actively see themselves as a part of the foundation of leadership and innovation in STEAMED fields, they are able to bring forward their best in solving complex global problems and building a rich collective future. Led by educators who look like them, ELSO participants learn about the cultural significance of native foods, plants, and animals and unpack the historical and contemporary role of untold stories in STEAMED education. ELSO’s staff, volunteers, and community partners share their stories, journeys, and pathways into STEAMED careers, standing as powerful role models and energizing BIPoC youth as confident and powerful leaders who will solve problems and impact the world in ways we can only imagine today.
- When you make a gift of $10 or more, you will receive 10% off your next purchase at the Portland Audubon Nature Store (excludes optics).
- The first 25 people to become a Friend of ELSO (monthly) donor at $10+/per month will receive a LabLyfe Kit: Harvest Needs a Hype Man.
- Monthly gift instructions: Sign up directly on our donation page and write “Give Guide” where it asks how you heard about ELSO
- Donate on Giving Tuesday (November 30th) and you will be entered into a raffle to win:
- A pair of pair of Leupold McKenzie binoculars, donated from the Portland Audubon Nature Store
- A “Hot Seat” Power Hour Coaching Session with Ellen Wyoming DeLoy
- Admission to a virtual online cooking class with Eleni’s Kitchen
- An Integrative Health and Well-Being Coaching session combo (initial session plus a follow up session) with Be Well Integrative Coaching
- More raffle prizes to be announced as Giving Tuesday draws closer!