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Nonprofit devoted to kids struggles to maintain programs amidst setbacks, in Foster-Powell

DAVID F. ASHTON - Vibe Summer Academy musical theater director Stephanie Wells leads young performers through a tuneful number in Southeast Portland. Although "Vibe of Portland", a nonprofit art and music educational nonprofit organization founded in 2007, lost their physical studios in the spring of 2020 – due to loss of revenue from the pandemic – they've carried on.

"Instead of searching for new studio space, Vibe has set about establishing partnerships with other nonprofits and like-minded businesses in Portland, and has adopted the slogan 'together we emerge stronger', as we continue our mission of bringing equitable arts education to young people," explained Dunja Marcum of Vibe.

"We applied for a grant through the Oregon Community Foundation to run a full program of summer camps we've called 'Vibe Summer Academy: Dreaming Tomorrow', focusing on offering scholarships to youth in the community," Marcum explained. "We are offering full scholarships to our nine-week 'Summer Academy' for youth in need, who live primarily in the Lents, Brentwood-Darlington, and Foster-Powell neighborhoods, and the surrounding Southeast Portland area."

Their community partners include the Green Tulip Peace and Nature School in Foster-Powell, and the Portland Moose Lodge #291 in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood.

THE BEE was invited to watch kids in the musical theatre camp that's being run in the Green Tulip Peace and Nature School, as they were rehearsing numbers for their upcoming show outdoors, at the Marysville School playground.

"Together, we have selected four songs; our kids have chosen their characters, and are making costumes for this musical theater show, under the theme of 'Dreaming Tomorrow' – which involves traveling through different dimensions!" explained the camp's musical director, Stephanie Wells, as the youthful performers took their places.

"It's not frivolous; the camp provides learning opportunities!" Wells remarked. "We're providing an 'ensemble building' experience, as the children learn about musical theater. At the same time, these youngsters are learning how to work with others, and to make friends.

"It's a joyful 'connecting' experience – which is really welcome, especially after this last year of pandemic isolation."

The Vibe Summer Academy runs through August 20th. For more information about this unique educational organization, go online – vibepdx.org


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