A Look Back at 2015

Posted on December 15th 2015 in About the Schools Fund, Behind the Scenes, Events, Grants, Volunteers

As we reflect on the past year, it’s clear that 2015 was a huge year for Berkeley Public Schools Fund. We saw big changes in our office, achieved major organization goals, and increased our support for Berkeley schools. It’s a gratifying process to look back, and we’re even more excited to see what 2016 has in store for us.

GRANTS & TEACHER SUPPORT

141124_RP_Revolution_055-X3This year we really solidified our various grantmaking processes: Classroom Grants, Strategic Impact Grants, Friends & Family, Summer Teacher Fellowships.

Classroom Grants
We received almost $420,000 in Classroom Grant requests in 2015, $80,000 more than requested in 2014, and we were able to award grants to over half of the teachers in the District. While we always support Arts and Literacy, we saw a significant increase in STEM-related grant applications. Check out the full list of Classroom Grants awarded in 2015 here.

Strategic Impact Grants
This 2015-16 school year is our second year offering Strategic Impact grants in their current form. During the 2014-2015 school year, we awarded over $146,000 in Strategic Impact grants. So far this year, we have awarded over $108,000. Projects supported so far include Professional Learning Communities for teachers, technology programs like Mouse Squad and Camp Sudo, and our Community Partners: the Berkeley Symphony, Community Resources for Science, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, WriterCoach Connection, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. You can see the list of Strategic Impact grants awarded so far this year here.

103-CampSudo-20150731Friends & Family Grants
Now it its second year, Friends & Family Grants is a crowdfunding platform developed by the Schools Fund and Cal’s software development group, Blueprint. Friends & Family raised over $30,500 in just one year, and so far 30 projects have been funded. Explore the site and donate here.

Summer Teacher Fellowships
In the summer of 2015, we had six Summer Fellows completing self-guided projects in New York, Boston, and throughout California. From hip-hop archive research to a conference on closing the achievement gap, these teachers used their summer breaks to further their own learning in order to enhance their classrooms. Read about our 2015 Summer Fellows here.

FUNDRAISING

For the first time in our 32-year history, the Schools Fund reached the $1 million mark for fundraising. As an organization that’s fully funded by donations from individuals and businesses, achieving this goal was thrilling! Below we’ve listed a few ways we reached this goal.

2015SpringLunchSpring Luncheon
Our annual Spring Luncheon focused on Expanding Opportunity, and we honored Naomi Washington-Diouf from Berkeley High, John Fike from Berkeley Technology Academy, and Matt Tsang from Willard as our Distinguished Educators. This event brings local businesses, politicians, teachers, and community members together to celebrate Berkeley education. Check out photos from the event here.

Increase in Bequests
IMG_0746
The Schools Fund was honored to receive a significant bequest last year for over $99,000. Including the Schools fund in your Planned Giving, whether in your will or retirement plan, life insurance, or trust enables you to create an educational legacy that costs you nothing now. Contact the Schools Fund office for more information.

Berkeley Half Marathon
For the third year in a row, we were the official charity for the Berkeley Half Marathon. Team Schools Fund 2015 raised over $37,000 for schools, and we had parents, teachers, and even students running the race. Our team was also sponsored by Magoosh. You can see photos from race day or read more about our partnership.

OFFICE CHANGES

The Schools Fund office had some big changes this year:

The Berkeley Schools Volunteers (BSV) had a few changes in 2015: we said farewell to Jill Coffey and welcomed Ariana Cohen as the Director of BSV. Ariana served as the Program Assistant for BSV for five years. In addition to the staff change, BSV is directing its focus on building the number of more long-term community volunteers who can carry their relationship with a school or teacher over more than a semester or year. Community groups and individuals who can create a working relationship with a teacher or familiarity with a single school site tend to have the most success working with students. Learn more about volunteering.

We also have a new database, which has been an enormous adjustment in our processes, but this change should allow us to respond to the needs of our teachers, volunteers, and donors in the most effective way. Thank you all for your patience as we have been making this transition!

In August, our Grants & Communications Coordinator, Laura (formerly Brewer) Klavon, got married!

Finally, we started this blog! Thank you for reading, and we look forward to bringing you more engaging content in 2016. Happy holidays!

p.s. if you haven’t watched our video yet, here it is. It’s one of the things we’re most proud of from 2015. And one more thing, our Annual Report, which we’re also really proud of!