Ethos is a community-based organization that has been shaped by the involvement of hundreds of volunteers, community partners, parents, former staff and board members. Ethos was officially organized in 1998 by Charles Lewis and a dedicated group of volunteer staff members and instructors in direct response to state funding cuts for arts education. Our founders chose the name “Ethos” because their artistic vision was built on the philosophy that music education has the power to change thoughts, moods and actions. The first classes were offered in a University of Portland classroom. Ethos has since purchased its North Portland headquarters and has grown to become one of Oregon’s largest arts education sources.

Since the organization’s inception, Ethos has received numerous national and regional awards for outstanding service including being selected numerous times as one of the top 50 after school arts programs in the entire United States by the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Over the past 20 years, Ethos has established award-winning programs and a stable infrastructure, positioning Ethos for a continued track record of success.

Ethos believes that all students, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location, deserve access to both the quantitative and qualitative benefits of music education. To achieve this mission, Ethos currently employs 6 full time and 2 part-time staff, 10 full time AmeriCorps members, and 35 part time instructors. These highly trained and qualified personnel allow the organization to offer three flagship programs dedicated to providing music education and its associated academic benefits to underserved students:

  • Music Lessons for Kids is Ethos’ in-house music education program that provides affordable music instruction on a variety of instruments from traditional symphonic band to Jazz, Blues, Hip-Hop, and Rock Band. Like all programs offered at Ethos, classes are provided on a sliding scale based on student’s participation in the Free and Reduced Rate lunch program, a Federal standard indicator of poverty.
  • Music Across Oregon is a partnership with the federal AmeriCorps program that places full-time musicians to live and teach full-time in rural communities across Oregon. During the 2017-2018 school year, Ethos has placed educators to teach in the towns of Maupin, Dufur, Monument, Falls City, Spray, Metolius, Madras, Elkton, and the Lake County towns of Lakeview, Adel, Paisley, and Plush.
  • Music Corps is Ethos’ urban outreach program that offers innovative after-school music classes targeting underserved students. Course offerings include: percussion, guitar, choir, string instruments, piano, marimba, and more.