About My Voice Music


My Voice Music is a nonprofit organization based in Portland Oregon that engages youth in music and performance in order to promote self-esteem, social skills and emotional expression.

My Voice Music (MVM) engages approximately 1,600 youth each year in music and performance in order help them to cope, heal, and thrive through music, while developing the skills necessary to create a fulfilling life for their future.  Nearly 75 percent of the youth we serve are living in foster care or mental health treatment centers.  We partner with nearly 25 local human services and education organizations to reach youth through collaborative music programs.  We recently moved into our own programs space and will launch program out of it in March of 2014 to provide songwriting, recording, performance and personal development opportunities for any young person looking join our programs! 

Organizational History

MVM has grown substantially in programming and community support since its founding in 2008, when the organization served 90 youth with $6,000 worth of equipment and instruments, donated space and vehicles, and countless volunteer hours. Organizational income and student capacity has nearly doubled each year 2009 to 2012. MVM now reaches over 1,000 youth with a budget of $157,000, and involves over 100 volunteers as artists, instructors, and fundraisers.
MVM has been recognized by the City of Portland for having “greatly contributed to bringing music back into the lives of the next generation…fostering personal, social, creative and intellectual development…and transforming marginalized youth.” MVM’s Executive Director was honored with a 2011 Skidmore Prize by the Willamette Week, a recognition for excellent emerging nonprofit leaders.

Other organizational milestones include MVM youth performing on stage with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters at the Rose Garden, and with Bibi McGill (Guitarist and Music Director for Beyoncé), recording over 700 original songs written and performed by MVM youth, raising $10,000 through a grassroots campaign to purchase a new van, doubling contributions at our anniversary party each year, and receiving significant grants from the Furlotti Family Foundation ($25,000), Fred Meyer Foundation ($10,000), ISING Choir ($9,000) Regional Arts & Culture Council ($6,000), and Portland Timbers Community Fund ($5,000).

Read about MVM's origins through founder, Ian Mouser's, own words by clicking the following link:  Skidmore blog.

MVM Programs:

The goal of each MVM program is to help students to cope, heal, and thrive through musical exploration.  These programs range from: weekly “Music as Therapy” sessions, where youth participate in drum circles and sing-along groups that celebrate the therapeutic aspects of music, to multi–week songwriting workshops and rock band camps where youth learn to play instruments, write songs and record them, to finally, multi-year ongoing artist mentorship where older students aid other younger students with their artistic development.

Links to Specific Programs:

Rock Camps  |  Hip Hop/Electronic Programs  |  Music Exposure Workshops  |  Music In Treatment Programs  |  Artist Mentorship Programs

Vision Statement:

My Voice Music will provide under-served youth with experiences in music that are engaging, relevant, and challenging in order to promote the development of social and emotional skills. Anchored on a belief in the power of music, relationship and story, we will be guided by thoughtful resource stewardship and a deep commitment to education through experience.

Values Statement:

Community: We believe that being a part of, and contributing something positive to, our community is transformative and empowering.

Relationship: We believe that positive, long-term relationships provide guidance and create a concept of social accountability.

Education: We believe that when education is paired with a desire for knowledge it creates rich and fulfilled lives that positively affect individuals, as well as, the community at large.

Art: We believe in the ability of the arts to inspire and connect with individuals, and that arts education has the power to equip them with tools for learning.

Trust: We believe successful relationships are built on a foundation of trust. We are committed to maintaining a level of professionalism and transparency that fosters trust in all of our relationships.

Experience: We believe experiences that are engaging, relevant, and challenging can connect with individuals in a unique way and teach skills that can be used for a lifetime.

Our philosophy is based on the assumption that youth thrive when they have the opportunity to be seen for their best and not simply for their challenges, and that;

  • Music is able to connect with people in a unique and universal manner.

  • Music helps people access and express emotions, as well as create community.

  • Music experiences can be used to help youth develop social and emotional skills - essential life-skills used to create positive relationships, cope with difficult circumstances, and develop resiliency.

  • Goal setting and working toward goals helps individuals take pride in themselves and their work.

  • Once someone learns to play music, they have a positive way to develop friendships and express emotions no matter where they go. (very significant to youth in foster care, residential treatment, experiencing homelessness and other transient situations)

Basically, My Voice Music is like many organizations that provide youth with guidance in a skilled activity such as sports leagues, math clubs and so forth. The difference is we are dedicated to working with youth who have fallen out of the typical realm of community services. We target youth who would otherwise not have these opportunities due to challenges such as living in the foster care system, experiencing mental health issues, exhibiting extreme behaviors, or with limited economic means.

Top 10 skills students learn from music and the arts - Creativity, confidence, problem solving, perseverance, focus, non-verbal communication, receiving constructive feedback, collaboration, dedication and accountability: all skills that are enhanced by participating in the arts.  - read the ful article here

Who Do We Serve?

We work youth who would otherwise not have these opportunities due to challenges such as living in the foster care system, experiencing mental health issues, exhibiting extreme behaviors, or coming from families with limited economic means.

Who We Served In 2012 -- Demographic Information
*Based on MVM participant surveys and program partner reports

  • %75 of youth served were living transitional housing such Foster Care, JDH, and Residential Treatment Centers
  • %95 of the youth served were on free or reduced lunch
  • %70 percent of the youth served were receiving mental health services while enrolled at MVM

Program Partners

Albertina Kerr Center
Arts and Technology High School
Breakthrough - Morrison Child and Family
Caldera Arts
Christie Care
Counterpoint - Morrison Child and Family
Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center
Friends of the Children
Mt. Scott Learning Center
Open Meadow
Right Brain Initiative
RAD - Morrison Child and Family
Sun Schools
Trillium Family Services
Vibe of Portland
Youth Villages