2010 Prize Winner
Everyone has dreams. Laura Streibs was to make other peoples come true.
Streib, 32, is the founder and director of Vibe of Portland, a nonprofit that offers free after-school arts and music classes to kids at Harrison Park Elementary in outer Southeast Portland. When the K-8 school was forced to cut its music program two years ago due to budget woes, Streibs organization was there to pick up the pieces.
The Washington native, who plays the oboe and English horn, dreamed up Vibe while attending Portland State University. I saw the great need for arts and music to be available to all kids regardless of socioeconomic means, she says. Streib was horrified to find that kids didnt get arts and music. Maybe theyre the next Yo-Yo Ma, she says. They dont know. They wouldnt have the opportunity.
What began in Streibs home four years ago has grown to include preschool art classes and music scholarships for private lessons in addition to the after-school program. A $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project and $5,000 from the local Imago Dei Christian group has helped Vibe cover costs for another year and add two more classes to its already impressive curriculum.
The arts and music program at Harrison Park offers seven classes for students, including comic-book illustration and guitar instruction. Students are provided top-notch instruments (which they can check out) and supplies Streib either receives in donation from other nonprofits or buys herself.
In the coming years, Streib hopes to begin programs at other schools while increasing course offerings. I would love to start an after-school band program or orchestra, she says. Streib also envisions an artist-in-residence program for artists and musicians who teach classes to have space in a future permanent home for Vibe.
More programs mean more money, and Streib works tirelessly applying for grants and organizing benefits. She has even held exhibits in the Pearl that showcase students artwork. At a recent gala, a Texas man bought the entire collection for his home and asked that the artists sign the back of their work. Streibs eyes lit up as she described the event, Moments like those make me want to work harder to help more and more kids experience how it feels to be valued as an artist and person.