Our Commitment to Equity
At The Shadow Project, we see students thrive in classrooms built around dignity, belonging, and high expectations. To fulfill our mission to make school more accessible and engaging for students with learning challenges, we have to model diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) in every aspect of our work.
What We’ve Done
In 2021, a Board Committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) was formed. Since then, The Shadow Project has completed the following activities:
Distributed Culturally-Relevant Books
We expanded our Culturally-Specific Book List, which we provide to volunteer Reading Mentors, share on social media, and use to purchase books for students.
In 2022, we gave out 331 Family Reading Kits to families in East Multnomah County. Each kit contains a book, sensory tool, and information about literacy and sensory needs. We currently offer kits in English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Karen. This work is ongoing.
In 2021-22, we trained 317 educators on meeting students’ sensory needs, using trauma-informed care, and integrating audiovisual reading technology in their classrooms. This work is ongoing.
“[The training] helped me understand a more holistic view of the student and how to meet their needs through these tools. [I enjoyed] the enthusiasm of the presenters. They believed in it and were passionate about it.”
—Special Education Teacher, East Portland
Conducted Internal Equity Audit
The Committee worked with DEIA advisors to systematically evaluate internal policies and practices through an equity lens, which included an organization-wide survey of staff, Board members, and volunteers. View the results here.
In 2022, The Shadow Project partnered with Providence Swindells Resource Center to bring our Family Goal Setting program to children statewide, increasing the number of rural Oregonians served. This partnership is ongoing.
Adopted Strategic DEIA Goals
In 2022, the Committee used the results of the Internal Equity Audit to set five strategic goals to guide the next chapter of the organization’s DEIA work:
Goal 1: Shadow’s Board will adopt a process to hold its leaders accountable for achieving the organization’s DEIA goals.
Goal 2: Stakeholders—including educators, students, parents, and volunteers—from diverse backgrounds (race, ethnicity, age, neurotype, etc.) will feel welcome and will understand how to participate in Shadow’s programs and decision-making processes.
Goal 3: A racially and ethnically diverse group of key stakeholders will inform Shadow’s next strategic and financial plans.
Goal 4: Shadow’s staff, board members and volunteers will be well informed about DEIA best practices for nonprofit organizations and their individual roles in supporting equity and inclusion.
Goal 5: BIPOC representation will be increased at all levels of organizational leadership (staff, Board, committee).
In 2022-23, building upon work already conducted, the Committee aims to:
Facilitate Board & Staff Training
Using the internationally-recognized Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), all board and staff members will complete individual assessments and team debriefs facilitated by Shadow’s long-time DEIA consultant Kaycie López Jones. This work will serve as the foundation for implementing Shadow’s DEIA Plan.
Share “Student Voices” Videos
We will provide teachers and families with our “Student Voices” video series and discussion guide. In these videos, former Shadow Project students share their challenges, successes, and inspiring visions for themselves, encouraging young learners to reject biases and dream big. Watch the first two videos in the series, featuring John Fernandez and Joe Andino.
Draft & Implement DEIA Plan
The Committee will draft a three-year plan to accomplish the organization’s five strategic DEIA goals. Implementation of the plan will begin in Fall 2023.
We will strengthen and develop relationships with BIPOC-owned businesses, increasing diversity among our vendors that supply program materials for the students we serve.