The original commitment to working with underserved youth began for co-founders Carlos Chavez and Phil Stockton at the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, Oregon. It was there in 2010 that Carlos and Phil began to conduct workshops in radio journalism and improvisational theater as volunteers under the supervision of the University of Hope Partnership Program at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, OR. Originally they conducted their workshops separately, but when Carlos and Phil met one another, they began to develop ideas about how to fulfill the need for incarcerated youth to transition successfully into their home communities after their release from the MacLaren facility: similar workshops would need to be conducted outside of the facility as a continuation of the workshops at MacLaren.
It was with this idea that Carlos and Phil established Morpheus Youth Project. In 2011, they licensed their business name with the State of Oregon and registered their organization with the IRS. Also, they secured fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas of New York, a 501c3 umbrella organization which is focused on supporting young arts-related entities that do not yet have the 501c3 certification. As the organization matured and gained momentum in the community, they secured 501c3 non profit status in 2015.
Transformation through arts and awareness.
The purpose of the Morpheus Youth Project is to create an accessible, safe and respectful environment that encourages positive growth and provides creative opportunities through the arts and humanities. We believe that by investing in our youth through education and encouraging the development of self-awareness, we will provide viable tools and positive options for young people as they mature.
We believe that every young person deserves the opportunity to develop into a positive and productive human being and to potentially become a community mentor for those who follow. By building confidence and instilling self-awareness, the youth in our programs develop the tools to transform their lives, which may have been unhealthy and self-destructive.
In an effort to create positive change with underserved youth, we take an approach that is three pronged:
1. The first approach is prevention. MYP offers youth creative options through the arts as an alternative to self -destructive behavior. We build relationships that matter and help to guide youth into healthy and forward -moving directions.
2. Positive intervention is our second approach. For youth already enmeshed in the juvenile justice system we build relationships through creative and educational workshops, but with a stronger emphasis on self and social awareness. This allows youth to become more conscious of the larger picture and to develop a new sense of identity, creating more understanding and leading them toward healthier lifestyles.
3. Practical assistance and mentoring is our third supportive approach for that difficult time when youth are transitioning out of correctional facilities and residential treatment programs. MYP becomes a touch point in this difficult time of reacclimation into their home communities. At this stage, MYP has established a trusting relationship with youth that can now be leveraged to provide a supporting hand to youth wrestling with this often overwhelming transition.
What We've Achieved
- In 2011, MYP developed a variety of creative and informative workshops that are currently conducted at a variety of classrooms and community centers in and around the Portland Metro area.
- In 2011, MYP established a relationship with the Oregon Youth Authority and Hope Partnership, that has allowed MYP to run ongoing workshops at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in radio journalism, theater, creative writing.
- In 2012, MYP partnered with Rosewood Initiative to host a monthly Hip Hop program in East Portland where youth learn basics in DJing, mural art, breakdancing and freestyle rap. These events are free for youth of all ages.
- In 2013, MYP helped to host East Portland's first Summer Kick Off event at the Rosewood Initiative Community Center. MYP youth and volunteers performed as musicians and dancers with over 200 guests in attendance.
- In 2014, MYP, MacLaren Youth and Portland Slam Poets organized the first Poetry Slam that has been hosted in the Oregon Youth Authority's MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility.
- In late 2015 MYP hosted an art show in East Portland that featured talented artists from three separate correctional facilities.
- Early this year MYP helped local break dancers from New Birth Crew host two free break dance jams / competitions for the community of East Portland with 150 - 200 in attendance.
- Today, MYP continues to build important and meaningful relationships with underserved and incarcerated youth on a regular basis. These relationships help to provide the framework for healthy and positive outcomes, which benefit the youth that we serve as well as our communities.