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New foundation ends Portland school district's reliance on All Hands Raised

In May, Shanice Clarke was campaigning for a seat on the Portland Public Schools board. She was one of two candidates running for Zone 2.

She lost the seat to Michelle DePass, but now, two months later, she landed a job at the school district.

COURTESY PHOTO - ClarkeClarke was hired to join the PPS Strategic Partnerships & Engagement Team, where she'll lead a three-person team to oversee outreach and public dialogue, according to the district.

Prior to joining the school district, Clarke worked for Portland State University, where she oversaw a student resource center and curriculum focused on the retention of black students. She has a background in education and community organizing.

Clarke will join the largest school district in a state that boasts one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation.

The high dropout rate is a reality Clarke knows. She dropped out of high school before later earning a GED and eventually receiving a master's degree.

"I ran for the board because of my deep commitment to advocating for racial equity and social justice in our public schools and creating deep opportunity for our community to be involved," Clarke said in a PPS release announcing her hire. "My new role will allow me to braid the knowledge and experiences of our community to reimagine PPS."

Foundation cash moves in-house

The announcement of Clarke's hire comes just a month after PPS filed with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office to set up the Fund for Portland Public Schools, a new fundraising arm of the district. The establishment of the new foundation means funds raised by the district's parent foundations will no longer be managed by the third-party nonprofit organization, All Hands Raised

Up until July, All Hands Raised managed funds for PPS's parent foundations.

All Hands Raised was established in the mid-1990s as a mechanism to bring in and manage additional funding for school districts through philanthropic donations, to make up for gaps in state funding.

All Hands now partners with seven school districts in the region.

Last month, PPS officially made the jump to keep its foundation activities in-house, with a board of directors that includes two PPS employees.

"This organization's core function is to create, coordinate and facilitate public, private and philanthropic partnerships that foster equitable opportunities and benefits for PPS students," the new foundation website, fundforpps.org, states.

District staff clarified that Clarke's role isn't tied to the foundation, but in a broader context, outreach and community relations likely will play a key role in preserving current donors and garnering new ones.

"Cultivating active and effective partnerships with our families and community is an essential ingredient of school improvement and student achievement," said Jonathan Garcia, chief engagement officer for PPS and board president of the fund for PPS. "I am excited that Shanice, with deep ties to our community, has joined us to galvanize strong community voice and unite Portland on building excellent bastions of learning for every one of our 50,000 students."

Naliah Roque also will join the Strategic Partnerships and Engagement team, serving as donor services and school resource associate.

This story has been updated to better reflect the relationship between All Hands Raised and PPS.


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