Living Timeline


Changing the odds, changing the future

Tony L. Hopson, Sr., Founder, President/CEO

Tony Hopson’s journey from picking beans and berries alongside his family in Willamette Valley to becoming the founder, president and CEO of Self Enhancement, Inc., is remarkable unto itself. Even more powerful than Tony’s own story is how SEI has grown from its beginnings as a summer camp to its comprehensive scope that helps at-risk African-American urban youth beat the odds, realize their potential and achieve their dreams.

Meet Tony

Tony HopsonTony Hopson graduated from Portland’s Jefferson High School in 1972. He went on to graduate from Willamette University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Sociology and a teaching certificate in 1977. That same year he earned a counseling certificate from Portland State University. In 1991 he received an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Willamette University. During his high school and college years he was recognized for his athletic skills as an all-city and all- state basketball player. In 1977, he participated in the Portland Trail Blazer’s rookie camp. From 1977 to 1985, Hopson taught, counseled and coached for Portland Public Schools.

Tony has also been recognized for his activism and community leadership by receiving numerous awards, including:

  • Gold Schmidty Award, State of Oregon
  • Teamwork Award, Christian Women Against Crime
  • Equal Opportunity Award, Urban League of Portland
  • Bridge Builder Award, Albina Ministerial Alliance
  • Emerald Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Legacy Award, Black United Fund
  • Aubrey R. Watzek Award, Lewis & Clark College
  • Community Award, Portland Observer Newspaper
  • Living Legend Award, Willamette University
  • First Citizen Award, Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors
  • Oregon Ethics in Business Award, Samaritan Counseling Center
  • Distinguished Service Award, University of Oregon

Tony is a very active volunteer and leader in the Portland community. He is a director on the
U.S. Bank Corporate Advisory Board, Trustee on the OHSU Foundation Board, Willamette University Trustee, sits on the Portland Trail Blazers Executive Advisory Board, and is a founding member of the Northeast Rescue Plan Action Committee (NERP AC).

Tony is the father of three sons. In his spare time he enjoys music, travel and water sports.

A Living Timeline of scope and significance

1981 Tony Hopson, Sr., begins a one-week summer camp for high school boys.
1982 One-week summer camp for middle school boys added.
1985 Programs for summer camp participants expand to in-school, after school and weekends.
1986 First drive-by shooting killing SEI student Ray Winston
1988 Ray Leary, Joy DeGruy and Ricky Allen joined Tony Hopson Sr. in expanding the SEI program.Year-round in-school, after school, weekend and summer programs expand to serve boys and girls in three middle schools and Jefferson High School.
1989 Meyer Memorial Trust provides support; year-round programs expand to three elementary schools.
1990 Self Enhancement receives the 69th Point of Light Award from President George H.W. Bush.
1992 Self Enhancement begins a 5 year capital campaign to build the Center for Self Enhancement on Unthank Park in North East Portland.
1993 Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA launched a 3 year longitudinal Evaluation study on the Self Enhancement Model.First Art & Soul event to support SEI programs.
1994 Family Services begins, providing intensive services to families in partnership with Oregon Services to Children and Families and Multnomah County Department of Community Justice.
1995 SEI Pamplin Fellows, leadership development for high school students, begins.
1997 Center for Self Enhancement opens.Elementary School program expands to serve two more schools, bringing total number of schools served to 11.

After-school, weekend and summer programs open to students not involved in SEI through their school.

1999 SAMHSA, three-year federal research project evaluating effect of mentoring on alcohol and other drug use in middle school students, begins.
2000 SEI becomes the new home of the Multnomah County Northeast Community and Family Services Center.
2001 SEI celebrates its 20th Anniversary of providing positive options to Portland’s inner city youth.
2002 Self Enhancement partners with Alonzo Mourning Charities to pilot the Self Enhancement, Inc. model at Overtown Youth Center in Miami, FL.SEI President Tony Hopson & Ronnie Herndon helped lead the community crisis team to raise awareness on the PPS achievement Gap.
2003 Portland Public School board approves SEI application to open a charter middle school.
2004 SEI becomes provider of Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) after-school program at four Portland Public Schools.SEI Academy opens with its first sixth grade class.
2005 SEI Academy adds a seventh grade class.
2006 SEI celebrates 25 years of providing positive options to Portland inner city youth.Albina Ministerial alliance service join the SEI family.
2007 First graduating class of the SEI AcademyThe Edna McConnell Clark Foundation recognizes SEI as one of the top youth development organizations in the nation.

The SEI core program is launched in Miami at the Overtown Youth Center.

2008 The first SEI Academy class graduates from 8th grade.
2009 Program growth leads to shared leadership as Tony Hopson, Sr., remains President & CEO and Marcy Bradley is named as new Executive Director of SEI.SEI’s comprehensive programs serve more than 2,500 students in In-School, After-School, Summer, Post-High, and Community and Family Programs.
2010 SEI launches business plan designed to leverage growth and strengthen its partnership with Portland Public Schools through increased funding.SEI rallies the Northeast community and helps keep Jefferson High School open for business as a neighborhood focused school.
2011 First year of the Jefferson Whole School Model.SEI core program services now available to all incoming freshmen attending Jefferson High School.
2012 Expansion of the Miami Replication from 300 students to over 475 students.