Shadow Project awarded $150,000 expansion grant

Shadow Project awarded $150,000 expansion grant

The Shadow Project will reach hundreds more at-risk students with learning-related disabilities this year thanks to new partnership with Vibrant Village Foundation 

Vibrant Village Foundation has awarded a $150,000 2-year grant to add five new schools in East Multnomah County to The Shadow Project’s service area and build capacity to support future growth.

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Portland, OR (July 30, 2013)—Children in special education represent one of Oregon’s largest at-risk populations, prone to disengaging from learning and failing in school. The Shadow Project is responding to help these struggling students whose barriers to learning include ADHD, dyslexia, autism, and communication disorders.  Shadow is the only nonprofit in the state of Oregon that equips classrooms with a structured, incentive-based framework and educational materials to help special education teachers reach struggling children early and engage them in learning—critical to keeping them in school.

Since 1997, the Portland-based Shadow Project has worked with teachers to help close the achievement gap for more than 6,500 at-risk children in 28 metro area schools. Oregon has more than 74,000 special education students, many of whom need the engagement, inspiration and in-classroom techniques Shadow offers to youngsters grades K-8, most of whom are from low-income homes.

Shadow Students

Now, The Shadow Project will serve five additional schools in East Multnomah County thanks to a two-year $150,000 grant from Portland-based Vibrant Village Foundation. The gift will enable Shadow to reach hundreds more at-risk students in the Portland metro area at schools identified as high-poverty, high priority.

“The Vibrant Village partnership with the Shadow Project was born of an alignment of our parallel missions to improve outcomes for students with learning disabilities—a very underserved, at-risk group across the state,” says Ken deLaski, founder of the Vibrant Village Foundation. “The Shadow Project provides significant proven work, is low-cost and replicable, and is poised for growth making their model an ideal fit for our local community investment.”

The Vibrant Village Foundation will help implement recommendations from the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon (HBSAO) which chose Shadow as its pro bono beneficiary and calculated the organization’s Social Return on Investment.  HBSAO recommended the program be expanded and enhanced. Thus, the Vibrant Village grant will not only increase the number of students and teachers benefiting from the Shadow Project, but will expand the organization’s evaluation and assessment tools.

The grant will also raise visibility for Shadow and the students it serves, increasing educational opportunities and promoting equity for this underserved, but highly promising population.  With this investment, Shadow will hire a full-time Communications and Development Associate to support its capacity-building  The Shadow Project served 1,300 students this past school year and expects to increase its program reach by 75% to 2,500 students by 2016.

“Only 38% of Oregon students with learning-related disabilities graduate with their class, the lowest rate in the state. Our goal, commensurate with the Governor’s goal of increasing graduation rates to 100% by 2025, is now more attainable thanks to the Vibrant Village grant,” says Christy Scattarella, founder and executive director of the Shadow Project. “This generous investment in Oregon children enables us to serve more classrooms and the incredible teachers who work so hard to keep this at-risk population in school and on track to graduation.”

Founded in 2010, the Vibrant Village Foundation is a private, family foundation started in 2010 by Ken deLaski. In 2009, Ken was inspired on a trip to Haiti with his daughter to create a foundation that invested in the long-term potential of villages around the world. They provide direct assistance and grants to vulnerable communities worldwide. Today Vibrant Village supports projects in nine different countries, including the US where they fund initiatives in Portland, Oregon and Washington DC.


Inspired by a Portland boy with learning challenges and named for his dog, The ‘Shadow’ project has evolved from a small volunteer operation in 1997 to a program that will serve at least 1,500 students this fall. The Shadow Project is Oregon’s only non-profit supporting special education classrooms to build habits for success. Shadow leverages the existing education system, equipping special education teachers with a structured, incentive-based framework and educational materials they integrate into their daily curricula.  Every day in class, students can earn “Shadow Bucks” for progress toward goals such as turning in homework, increasing attendance and making good choices. They celebrate milestones once a month on “Shadow Day,” earning reinforcers that promote critical thinking, literacy, self-sufficiency and good citizenship, such as books, school and writing supplies, and family reading kits, that have many families reading together for the first time.

“You won’t find an organization better than The Shadow Project at helping Portland’s vulnerable kids to believe in themselves and unleash their potential for learning. They benefit, our schools benefit and ultimately we benefit with thriving, productive people in our community,” says Mark Holloway, executive director, Social Venture Partners.


More Information:

Claudia Johnson


July 2013 Newsletter

July 2013 Newsletter

Expanding to Help More Kids

Newsletter • July 2013
The Shadow Project

One of my students had weekly attendance of approximately 50% of the week. Once she started coming to the learning center and participating in the Shadow Project her attendance has improved to 80% of the week.
–LaShell Holton,
Markham Elementary

Tim and Shannon
Our Teacher Appreciation Gathering brought together Shadow’s partner teachers, the Shadow Project team and dedicated supporters to celebrate our hard-working teachers and their students’ successes this year. Veteran teacher Shannon Cooper (pictured with Shadow Board president, Tim Gourley), spoke about the impact the program has had on her students.

“”Before, I would get distracted, and I just wouldn’t listen. Last year, I could only write three words in a journal, but the Shadow Project came along, and I started reading and writing, and now I’m writing three or four pages. I’ve improved a lot.””Nick, 8th grader

Serve with Liberty–A Success!

“The Shadow Project makes kids feel like they’re more a part of school. They are building confidence, growing and getting more prepared for the world.” –Tammi Budd, volunteer

Thank you, Shadow Book Buddies, for helping us fill our warehouse with new books for special education students! Ralph, a fantastic volunteer, enjoyed helping us shop! A donation of $50 or more is matched and buys up to 40 new books!

Thanks to our recent Book Buddy donations, we were able to stock our shelves with over 2,000 new, high-interest books for special education students, like the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid novel, The Ugly Truth. Becoming a Book Buddy is easy! Donate $50 or more and your gift will be matched, providing culturally relevant titles to Shadow Project students. Thank you for investing in the gift of reading!

Shadow awarded $150,000 capacity-building grant to serve more students!

The Shadow Project will reach hundreds more at-risk students this coming school year thanks to new partnership with Vibrant Village Foundation. The Foundation’s investment of $150,000 over two years will enable Shadow to expand to at least five high-poverty schools in East Multnomah County this fall and position our nonprofit to serve more students in years to come: 2,500 by 2016. This transformational grant will also allow us to implement recommendations from the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon to grow and enhance our program. Shadow will kick off its expansion in partnership with All Hands Raised as part of a community initiative focused on reducing chronic absenteeism and reducing disparities for Portland’s most marginalized students. “The Vibrant Village partnership with the Shadow Project was born of an alignment of our parallel missions to improve outcomes for students with learning disabilities—a very underserved, at-risk group across the state,” says Ken deLaski, founder of the Vibrant Village Foundation. “The Shadow Project provides significant proven work, is low-cost and replicable, and is poised for growth making their model an ideal fit for our local community investment.”

Shadow Students Make Great Strides in School

The results are in! The 2013 Teacher Outcomes survey reveals that students in The Shadow Project have made great progress this year!

  • 71% of students who were prone to giving up easily at the beginning of the school year are now persevering when faced with challenging tasks.
  • 93.9% of educators report that The Shadow Project motivates students to set and achieve goals.
  • 63% of educators report that The Shadow Project promotes equity by building appreciation for children who learn differently.
  • 69% of Shadow Project students met or exceeded reading goals.

Special education students are better equipped to thrive thanks to our donors, including the Reser Family Foundation and Stimson Miller Foundation.

Duniway Middle School students share what it takes to succeed in school

Shadow in the News

In case you missed it, you can catch up on what’s been happening with The Shadow Project through the eyes of our parents, teachers, students, staff and community.

Serve with Liberty: Volunteers sort 2,000+ books for Shadow kids!
For the second year in a row, employees from Liberty Mutual visited The Shadow Project to help us gear up for the upcoming school year. It’s never too early to get ready for the 1,500 students we will serve this fall! With the help of 10 enthusiastic volunteers, we unloaded and sorted over 2,000 new children’s books, assembled personalized goal-setting kits used by students to set their own goals, built over 100 Family Reading Kits, and packaged gift bags full of school supplies. “There’s a huge gap in help for all teachers, but especially special education teachers,” said Liberty Mutual employee Jillian Carlile. “I’m here because this program helps these teachers help kids want to excel.” A huge thanks to the team! See more photos on Facebook.

Thank You for Making a Difference
Safeco Insurance Foundation has committed to a 3rd & 4th year of continuing support to The Shadow Project through its Education Initiative. Safeco’s new two-year grant of $18,000 provides operating support to help us improve educational outcomes for children with disabilities. Launched in 2009, Safeco’s Education Initiative has provided nearly $2.8 million to 53 nonprofits in Washington and Oregon to improve the educational achievements and opportunities for disadvantaged youth. Safeco has also brought us invaluable volunteer support from Liberty Mutual (see story, above).

Thanks to In2itive Search, a Portland-based search engine marketing agency, The Shadow Project has a new & improved website! This new platform for information-sharing, advocacy and support will allow teachers and parents the tools and resources necessary for supporting their students’ educational journeys, while offering information about learning disabilities to the community at large. Thank you, In2itive Search, for your generous donation and ongoing efforts on behalf of our students!

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City of Portland's "Making a Difference" Award in Education

The Shadow Project
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