Portland International Community School (PICS) was founded in 1993 as the only high school in Oregon dedicated to the education of refugee and immigrant students. Funded through Portland Public Schools and administered by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, PICS addressed the particular needs of high-school age students who struggled to learn in traditional schools and needed more specialized educational attention and help navigating a new culture.
During its 18 year tenure, PICS served over 1,000 immigrant and refugee students. More than 150 graduated from PICS, with many continuing on to college, vocational schools and other post-school opportunities.
In 2011, Portland Public Schools reduced funding to a number of alternative education high schools, including PICS. On June 7, 2011, PICS celebrated its last graduation at Concordia University.
The EMO Board of Directors is deeply grateful to the dedicated staff and teachers who made such a profound difference in the lives of the students from countries as varied as Egypt, Mexico and Rwanda. Although PICS is closed, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon continues to work with immigrant community leaders to explore ways to ensure that immigrant and refugee students receive the help they need to succeed in the American school system and in their new lives.