About Oregon MESA

Serving students since 1985.


A MESA Student is inspired to be the first in her family to attend college.


A lifelong volunteer finds no greater experience than working with MESA.


Another MESA alum turns his invention education into an award-winning career in music production and engineering.

These are the real success stories of Oregon MESA — and for 40 years and counting, we’ve made it our mission to bring equity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education to students of color, low-income youth, and girls, students who may never experience these opportunities elsewhere.

MESA empowers students with the skills to problem-solve, communicate, and collaborate; the courage to fail in pursuit of success; and the expectation that they can — and will — achieve in the innovation economy. Year after year, our programs produce real impact for positive societal change. And we welcome your participation in our inclusive invention education ecosystem.

Our Mission

To provide students underrepresented in STEM fields with the skills, knowledge, and opportunities to develop their talents, explore technology-based careers, enter college, and compete successfully in the workforce.

Meet the people who help lead, guide and fund Oregon MESA:


Bringing Equity to STEM Education

Every year, Oregon MESA serves more than 600 middle and high school students historically underrepresented in STEM fields. These students are defined as underrepresented students of color, girls and non-binary students, impoverished populations, and first-generation college students. We currently have MESA programs in schools in the Portland metro area, Salem, and Klamath Falls.

Our Theory of Change

Oregon MESA’s Theory of Change outlines our big-picture model for how communities create a more prosperous society for all. The model is based on education and social science research, quantitative and qualitative evaluations of equity initiatives, and our organization’s 40 years of lived experience.


Of course, this process is iterative — our assessments lead us to continually adapt our team, goals, and processes to move closer to the ultimate aim of a prosperous society for all.
Want to know more about our Theory of Change and Theory of Action (how we implement our Theory of Change)? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Our History

Oregon MESA was founded in 1985 on the belief that access to a STEM education and exposure to successful role models can irrevocably change the course of an underrepresented student’s life. Born out of the civil rights movement and founded by leaders of color in Portland, Oregon MESA has been an enduring and positive presence in the lives of young people for over three decades.

From the beginning, we knew we needed to meet students where they already were: at school. We knew we had to not only show them the paths available, but also instill in them the confidence that they would be successful in their educational pursuits. We have proven time and time again that the most powerful tool we can give to students is the opportunity to try unique approaches without the fear of failure.

Partnering With PSU

Oregon MESA was started at Portland State University in 1985 under the name Portland MESA. PSU continues to host the MESA program and provides our students with exposure to postsecondary academic programs and other opportunities hosted by the university. Our administrative office is located at the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU.

How can we help?

To learn more, get in touch with Oregon MESA or browse our current media kit.