We are a nonprofit 501 c3 focusing on bringing veterans as mentors and inner city youth together into the wild rivers of nature. We inspire the youth by becoming guardians, teachers and role models as an act of service. The hope is that this encourages youth participants to grow and become ambassadors of our natural environment.
SRI uplifts and strengthens communities by connecting inner city youth and veterans to the outdoors, harnessing incredible opportunities and powerful experiences that forge strong connections between youth and veterans, their communities, and the natural world. Spending time embraced in currents of river water, trekking majestic forested trails, and witnessing a bald eagle or elk in its habitat is healing. Connecting with nature is a powerful outlet to reduce stress, find focus, sharpen self-awareness, embrace spirituality, and develop positive values beneficial to both the individual and community. Soul River unites youth and veterans on challenging yet rewarding adventures at zero cost where they become part of something bigger than themselves, developing into strong leaders in the outdoors and their communities.
SRI teaches what cannot be learned in a traditional classroom or on a city street. It takes practice to learn outdoor skills and time on the river to develop leadership. Our wild rivers provide the ideal setting for this unique, experiential education. Soul River Inc. classrooms are amphibious based on some of the world’s wildest and most awe-inspiring locations. We believe living and learning by our rivers in untouched places will teach students responsibility and will bring purpose and healing to veterans.
Founder and President, Chad Brown, decorated US Navy veteran who served in Desert Storm/Shield Gulf War and Operation Restore Hope, Somalia, struggles today with PTSD. Brown is an accomplished documentary style portrait photographer, creative director, adventurer, conservationist, and founder/president of Soul River Inc., a non-profit organization. He has a strong vein when it comes to outdoor adventure travel and documenting threatened wild spaces, as well as connecting the public to endangered areas by capturing and showing the true spirit of the people of these lands. He also produces intense, raw images of stylized dramatic documentary portraits by creatively using a bold approach, unique angles, and dramatic lighting. He is deeply interested in capturing moments of passion and the human spirit. Through his striking documentary portraits and photographic exhibitions, he showcases and advocates for social and environmental justice.
He studied communication design and photography at American Intercontinental University. He then attended Pratt Institute in NYC, where he earned Masters of Science in Communication Design. He has managed interdisciplinary teams as a creative director, art director and photographer for design firms and agencies as well as a freelance artist. His work has crossed into underground hip hop, fashion, and pop culture, photographing the streets of NYC and successfully presenting to one of the nation’s leading hip-hop culture business moguls, Russell Simmons and his business partner Rev Run and VP of Run Athletics developing creative campaigns and executing photoshoots for the New York Times magazine. His photography adventure assignments have lead him touring Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. He is also part of the less than 1% of world population who had been to Antartica. In fact, he has received the Antartica Service Medal for surviving more than 30 days on the Antarctic continent while he was serving in the Navy.
After leaving the hustle of New York City, he is now residing in Portland, Oregon. His career paths and his life have expanded beyond the realm of the traditional creative world. Mother Nature has played a significant role in his healing from war traumas he experienced as a Navy service member. His failed suicide attempt eventually led him to the launching of a non-profit organization unlike any other, called Soul River Inc. Soul River specializes in outdoors education and cultural expeditions Brown calls deployments. It brings together at-risk youth and Veterans as mentors and takes them into threatened wild spaces, providing mission-driven experiences where advocacy and outdoor education meet. His work has lead him to Capitol Hill, advocating for our public lands and wild places, bringing youth leaders of tomorrow and giving them an opportunity to interface with Congressional members.
Brown is a Board member of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. He has been featured on BBC, CBS, as well as in national publications such as Outside Magazine and The Drake, and in various Pacific Northwest publications. Additionally, Brown was the first recipient of the Breaking Barriers Award Presented by Orvis, as well as the Bending Toward Justice Award from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.
I serve my community and my team with honor and integrity.
I am responsible for my actions and accountable to my leaders both on and off the water.
I lead by example.
I am the guardian of the standard.
I lead by example for my community to which I guide in and the youth to which I serve.
I hold myself and my gear to the highest state of readiness.
In our community’s time of need, a special group of citizen leaders stands ready on distant lands and knee deep in wild rivers. Defending freedom and nature, they serve with honor and distinction. I am proud to be one of these leaders.
I am a Soul River Inc. deployment leader: a professional; tried, tested and dedicated to achieving excellence; serving, teaching, and shaping youth into leaders and ambassadors of Mother Nature. I am a disciplined, confident, and highly motivated educator and mentor.
My honor and integrity are beyond reproach, my commitment unquestioned, and my word trusted. Our community’s youth depend on me to carry out the mission in a professional manner.
I maintain my craft, gear, and myself at the highest level of deployment readiness. I set the standard and lead by example. I am responsible for my actions and accountable to my fellow leaders and community.
I am ready to serve as a volunteer for Soul River Inc. enriching the souls, hearts, and minds of our youth. I will engage the community with the full intention of connecting our youth to Mother Nature. I will always complete the deployment to which I have committed to. I will never quit on our youth and I will leave no community behind.
My heritage comes from past leaders in my life whom I have witnessed taking a stand for others who are without or less fortunate to gain in life. The legacy of these leaders guides my actions. I will always remember the courage, perseverance and sacrifices made to guarantee opportunity for the future of our youth. I uphold the honor of those who have lead before me and will do nothing to disgrace my proud heritage and that of Soul River Inc.
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