Give!Guide 2013

The Shadow Project is a Portland-based nonprofit that partners with teachers in special education to help close the achievement gap for students with learning challenges. For a second year in a row, The Shadow Project is part of the Willamette Week Give!Guide campaign!

November 2013 Newseltter

November 2013 Newseltter

PSU Vikings Team with Shadow Kids


PSU Football Players to Shadow Kids: "There's so much more to you!"


Portland State University football players teamed up with Marysville school students to tackle learning disabilities. Some 23 players, several of whom have ADHD and dyslexia, shared their school struggles and their stories about not giving up and facing obstacles. Vincent Johnson told the kids he was in special education starting in kindergarten. "I didn't like school. I didn't think of myself as anybody. I didn't have any friends." Vincent said kids who learn differently can use their unique perspective to find their own strengths. "There's so much more to you," he said. Marysville teacher Janice Holstine said witnessing the sharing between her students and the Vikings "took my breath away".

"We have players of our own who have struggled with learning disabilities and become excellent student athletes and very positive role models. By working with groups like The Shadow Project we can light a fire for students who have struggled with similar obstacles."
— PSU Vikings Football Coach Nigel Burton



Shadow Joins Citywide READ BIG Campaign!


We have been working closely with Portland Public Schools and a handful of nonprofit community partners on a collaborative pilot project that will provide intensive early literacy services at 5 PPS schools beginning January 2014. This effort is part of the larger city-wide READ BIG campaign, which was kicked off by Portland Trailblazer Robin Lopez and sponsored by the Blazers and Knowledge Universe. The goal: have every child reading to learn by 3rd grade (a strong indicator for high school graduation).



Junior League Builds Shadow's Community of Support


A big THANK YOU to the dozens of volunteers who lent a helping hand to The Shadow Project during the Junior League of Portland CAREs event. Together we assembled hundreds of family reading kits, school-supply goody bags and goal-setting kits for the special education students we serve and explored the topic of learning disabilities through interactive activities. A special shout-out to Regina Wheeler, a former JLP CAREs volunteer, who donated her time and expertise to help The Shadow Project launch a program evaluation this year.



The Shadow Story is Now a Children's Book!


Third grader Alex has learning disabilities. When he tries to read, the letters wiggle and squirm. "S" slithers like a snake. "C" turns cartwheels across the page. "That's it," he decides. "I give up." The Boy Who Learned Upside Down (Black Heron Press. 2013) is based on the true story of one child's journey from "I can't" to "I CAN!" that became the inspiration for The Shadow Project and celebrates the differences that make all of us unique. Proceeds from the newly released book benefit children in the program.


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

The Shadow Project
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Shadow is part of literacy campaign in Portland Public Schools!

Shadow is part of literacy campaign in Portland Public Schools!

We are so excited to be part of the Portland Public Schools literacy campaign. On Wednesday, November 6, the literacy campaign “READ BIG” was kicked off by the Portland Trail Blazers!

We have been working closely with PPS and our other partners Reading ResultsSMART – Start Making A Reader TodayMultnomah County LibraryThe Children’s Book Bank, and SUN Schools, on this collaborative pilot project which will support the district’s efforts to have every child reading to learn by 3rd grade!


Article: Trail Blazers help kick off literacy campaign in Portland Public Schools: PPS News

November 6, 2013

trailer blazer pic from artcile

(For the full article go to 

You’re not imagining things.

That was, indeed, a seven-foot Trail Blazer hanging out at the Chief Joseph campus yesterday.

Blazers center Robin Lopez stopped by the North Portland building to help kick off the “READ BIG” campaign, an effort to get all first graders to literacy by third grade.

The campaign is co-sponsored by the district, the Blazers and Knowledge Universe, an early childhood education provider. The efforts also include other Multnomah County districts.

Jon Isaacs, senior policy advisor for PPS Superintendent Carole Smith, said the goal of getting students to read on grade level by third grade is a milestone well-known in the education community, but not to the general public.

The campaign will generate awareness of its importance and let everyone know how they can help, he said.

“Literally anyone who lives in Portland – any business leader, any non-profit – can help,” he said. “We can say, ‘Here’s what we can do.’”

Lopez on Wednesday was accompanied by a life-sized animated superhero rendering of himself. Lopez, who spent two years at Stanford University before entering the NBA draft, told students he credits his mother with instilling a love of reading into his early life.

The effort includes a city-wide book collecting campaign, classroom posters, reading logs and a public service campaign. Kids in select elementary school classrooms will also be enticed to meet reading goals with several Blazer-related rewards, including special classroom visits, basketball tickets and a reading celebration with the team at the Moda Center in March.

It may seem obvious for schools to encourage literacy but mastering the skill by third grade truly has big implications for students. Research has shown that a student who can read on grade level by third grade is four times more likely to graduate than a student who can’t. The statistics get even bleaker for low-income students who can’t read at that time.

In Portland Public Schools, about 74 percent of third graders were reading at grade level, according to the latest state test results. That’s a very slight dip from the year before.

The efforts include a lot of partners: Reading Results, SMART Readers, the Shadow Project, the Multnomah County Library, SUN Schools and the Children’s Book Bank are all getting in on the act. Earlier this fall, the book bank was involved in the Children’s Fall Book Harvest with the goal of collecting 25,000 books.

You can find out more information on Portland Public Schools and its involvement in the campaign on the district website.

The Shadow story is now a children’s picture book!

The Shadow story is now a children’s picture book!
The Shadow Story is now a children’s picture book: The Boy Who Learned Upside Down, written by our very own founder and Executive Director Christy Scattarella.
boy cover

Alex is a kid with learning disabilities who’s miserable at school. When he tries to read a book, the letters sprout arms, legs, skateboards – even stilettos – and escape off the page.  “I give up!” he says. “Why can’t I just be like everyone else?”  Then something amazing happens. His teacher challenges Alex to become a courageous student – something that seems impossible for a kid like him. With the help of his dog Shadow, Alex sets off on one adventure after another in pursuit of his goal. Along the way, he learns to help others, to believe in himself and to turn “I can’t” into “I CAN!” Ultimately he discovers that his greatest shame – being different – isn’t so bad after all. And that gives him one big, super-duper different idea – to help other kids like him.

The Shadow Project named for Alex’s dog, teams with special education teachers to help children succeed in school.  Today, The Shadow Project serves 1,500 students in 33 Portland-area schools. Alex is a college graduate who continues to volunteer for the program.

The Boy Who Learned Upside Down promotes a greater understanding of children living with disabilities such as dyslexia and ADHD. Packed with humor, adventure (and a really cool dog!) the book offers children a book that they can identify that encourages them to discover their own hidden strengths.

The Boy Who Learned Upside Down
Black Heron Press, Nov. 2013
By Christy Scattarella
Illustrations ©2013 by Winky Wheeler

Proceeds benefit The Shadow Project. Available at Powell’s Bookstore, online at and and other online and retail booksellers. Stay tuned for news about book events and more!