STEM Education

Ethos' STEM education projects for underserved youth.

Bridging the digital divide by combining technology and music.


At Ethos Music Center, Charles Lewis helped develop and implement a series of art projects specifically focused on increasing STEM education opportunities for underserved youth.  One project called “Sound Schools” was made possible by $350,000 worth of grants from the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission.  Students involved in Ethos’ Sound Schools project used cutting edge video and audio technology to capture concerts in area schools, in Ethos’ performance hall, and at major events like the Waterfront Blues Festival .  Ethos’ students were taught how to use professional grade equipment including a Broadcast PIX HD switcher, remote pan/tilt HD video cameras, a fiber optic transmission system (I-Net) and numerous other television studio grade pieces of equipment.  Once property trained, Ethos’ students were responsible for every aspect of capturing and delivering audio and video to 400,000 potential households in the Portland Metropolitian Area through Comcast and the I-Net fiber optic system.

Students learning how to use computers at Ethos' THUMP program.

Using technology to create hip-hop music at Ethos.

Seeking to bridge the digital divide for low-income and minority students, Charles and Ethos created The Hip-Hop and Urban Music Project (THUMP) in 2001 in order to use computers and technology to create hip-hop music.  Ethos’ THUMP program was originally funded by a grant from AmeriCorps*VISTA and $45,000 worth of computers from Toshiba.  Ethos’ THUMP students programmed computers and used professional grade technology to create their own CDs and DVDs.  Ethos’ THUMP program was so popular that it was integrated into several after school programs all around Portland with a grant from the Portland Children’s Investment Fund.

Recently, Charles established an entirely new nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization called Home Empower.  Home Empower is dedicated to empowering students and their families to improve the quality of their lives and their communities through STEM education and the practical application of building science.  Charles and his younger brother JLara decided to start this new nonprofit after their mother passed away from non-job related exposure to asbestos (most likely in the home or on the farm).  Not wanting other families to go through a similar ordeal, Charles and JLara created this new nonprofit organization that uses the power of STEM education to empower youth and their families.  Find out more online at