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Speaker Announcement: Tony Hopson, Straight to Success
If Tony Hopsons trajectory to success could be compared to something, it would be a snowball, rolling down a hill. Thirty years ago that snowball was small, hand-packed, and perfect for throwing. Now, after decades of picking up speed, it is enormous, maybe the size of a house. The longer it rolls, the bigger it gets, and the more good it packs into its core.
Tony’s specialty is increasing positive velocity in the lives of others. He is a counselor, an educator, an activist and a coach. He is also the President and CEO of Self Enhancement, Inc. (SEI), a non-profit based in Portland, OR, that helps at-risk African American urban youth realize their potential by supporting them with their academic, social and personal goals. SEI Coordinators work closely with youth enrolled in the program, helping them make positive choices that keep them on a path to success.
The seed for SEI was planted by Tony in 1981 when he began a one-week summer camp for high school boys. From there, the program expanded to middle-schoolers, then year-round programs were added and Tony was able to work with an increasing number of at-risk youth. In 2003 SEI officially opened a Title 1 charter middle school. The statistics are astounding: 73% of students are from single-parent households, 36% are gang affected and 30% have a parent or sibling who is incarcerated. Despite the odds, SEI graduates 98% of students, sending 85% on to college, where they are often the first ever in their family to enter higher education.
“Velocity represents movement to me,” says Tony. “Something that moves from point A to point B at an increasingly faster pace. Velocity is obvious and it’s noticeable.”
And after three decades, Tony has helped thousands of students go from point A to point B, rather than point C, which may have included dropping out of school, going to jail or worse.
“The perfect day for me would be a sunny, warm, blue sky day with a cool breeze and the smell of flowers in the air,” says Tony. “The sun represents each kid that needs and gets a touch from a caring adult. The blue sky represents the love that these touches bring. The cool breeze represents the sense of support felt by each kid, and the flowers represent the smell of hope that the future will be bright. Each day that I can create this for a kid, it is a perfect day. And that is what I’m doing.”
TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) is thrilled to have Tony Hopson on our 2013 speaker roster where he’ll be sharing his unique take on velocity and just how he’s been able to change the life trajectory of thousands of youth in Portland.
Leah is the Executive Director of FACES Foundation, a non-profit that provides cleft lip and palate and facial reconstructive surgery to indigent, medically-isolated patients in South America. She enjoys Himalayan peaks, big Asian cities, thick Russian novels, long, soggy runs, and writing about Portland’s finest as a TEDxConcordiaUPortland Storyteller.