The Oregonian reports on The Shadow Project’s expansion grant!
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Portland non-profit The Shadow Project wins $150,000 grant to expand in East County
The Shadow Project, a Portland non-profit that teams up with teachers in special education classrooms, will be helping hundreds more children thanks to a $150,000 two-year grant from the Vibrant Village Foundation.
The grant will allow the Shadow Project to serve at least five more schools in East Multnomah County.
Christy Scattarella founded the Shadow Project because her second-grade son Alex had dyslexia and attention deficit disorder and was struggling to learn how to read and write.
Named after her son’s beloved dog, the Shadow Project has evolved from a volunteer “mom and pup” operation in 1997 to a citywide organization that will serve at least 1,500 K-8 students this year.
Shadow creates an educational token economy that special education teachers can use to motivate and reward students. Every class period, students can earn “shadow bucks” as rewards for coming to class, turning in homework and making good choices. Each month, students and teacher participants celebrate Shadow Day, during which students can use shadow bucks to earn prizes such as books, writing supplies, and family reading kits.
“The big thing to remember with these kids is it takes courage to come to school every day,” says Scattarella. “And we really want to reward and acknowledge that.”
The Shadow Project is working to combat an education crisis that it says uniquely affects kids with learning challenges.
In Oregon there are more than 74,000 children, most from low-income homes, who receive special education services. In 2012, less than half of the special education population graduated from high school with their class. Nationwide, 20 percent of students with learning disabilities drop out of school, as opposed to 8 percent of their unencumbered peers, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
With the two-year grant, the Shadow Project will hire a full-time communications and development associate to support its expansion. It has a goal of reaching 2,500 students by 2016.
The Vibrant Village Foundation is a private, family foundation based in Portland that provides grants and direct assistance to communities around the world.
“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 under-served, at-risk group across the state,” says Ken deLaski, founder of the foundation.
Scattarella’s son Alex graduated from college and now has two jobs.
“What’s exciting about this is that it’s not an intractable problem,” Scattarella says. “These are kids who have every potential for success…They just need more support.”