A Look Back at 2016

Posted on January 10th 2017 in About the Schools Fund, Behind the Scenes, Events, Grants, Volunteers

As 2016 comes to a close, we think it’s more important than ever for our community to do everything it can to support our kids and public schools. We’re committed to supporting teachers by growing our impact every year, finding higher impact projects that meet the needs of teachers and students and encouraging new ideas. We’re setting the course for more Strategic Impact and Community Partnership Grants and we’ve got some exciting projects and collaborations in the works for next year!

GRANTS & TEACHER SUPPORT

2015-16-annual-report-coverAfter a few years of expanding our grant opportunities for teachers, last year we offered our Classroom Grants, Strategic Impact Grants, Friends & Family and Summer Teacher Fellowships and formalized our annual grants for programs provided by community organizations as Community Partnership Grants. Community Resources for Science, the Berkeley Symphony, Writers Coach Connection, LBNL and the Berkeley Rep have been receiving Schools Fund grants for many years, but the new category ensures their continuation year after year and establishes our goal to bring more of Berkeley’s intellectual and cultural resources into our schools through partnerships in the community. Take a look at our Annual Report for the 2015-16 school year.

Classroom Grants
We received over $445,000 in Classroom Grant requests in 2016, a $100,000 increase over two years, and we were able to award grants to over half of the teachers in the District. Like last year, we saw a significant increase in STEM-related grant applications, more than doubling over two years. Check out the full list of Classroom Grants awarded in 2016 here.

Strategic Impact Grants
During the 2015-2016 school year, we awarded over $195,000 in Strategic Impact grants, $50,000 more than the year before. So far in the 2016-17 school year, we have awarded over $123,000. Projects supported to date include year three of Be A Scientist, Dance for Transitional Kindergarten Classrooms (TK) Professional Development in Play-Based Learning for Pre-K and TK teachers, and programs by our Community Partners: the Berkeley Symphony, Community Resources for Science, and the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

103-CampSudo-20150731Friends & Family Grants
Now it its third year, Friends & Family Grants is a crowdfunding platform developed by the Schools Fund and Cal’s software development group, Blueprint. The biggest Friends & Family grant so far is trying to raise over $54,000 to send King 8th graders to Washington, DC.

Summer Teacher Fellowships
In the summer of 2016, we had nine Summer Fellows including two trips to Guatemala and two trips to Africa! Others didn’t travel as far, staying in the U.S. for training to support the District’s literacy programs.

FUNDRAISING

We didn’t quite hit the high mark we made in 2015, but we got close, with $938,000. As an organization that’s fully funded by donations from individuals and businesses, we’re always proud and thankful for our success. Below we’ve listed a few ways we reached this goal.

Spring Luncheon Our annua145-mimsconcert-20161017-copyl Spring Luncheon focused on music education, “Let the Music Play”, and we honored all of the District music teachers, eighteen teachers who teach thousands of children every year. 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
The Schools Fund was honored to receive another significant bequest last year for over $150,000. Including the Schools Fund in your in your will or retirement plan, life insurance, or trust enables you to create an educational and community legacy.

Boatwright Weinstein Scholarship Fund Benefit Concert
The Boatwright Weinstein scholarship fund held a concert at Freight & Salvage was local jazz musicians Herbie Mims & Friends, including guest vocalists Janice Maxie Reid and Daria Nile for their phenomenal performances at the Freight & Salvage this past Monday to benefit the Boatwright/Weinstein Scholarship Fund. The scholarship provides private music lessons for students who have interest in deepening their musical training beyond the BUSD middle school program, but can’t afford private lessons. The goal is to maintain diversity in the music program as it becomes an elective in middle school and high school.

Berkeley Half Marathon
We’re in our fourth year in a row with the Berkeley Half Marathon and every year we appreciate the partnership more! Team Schools Fund 2016 raised over $27,000 for schools, and we had parents, teachers, and even students running the race. Read an account of race day here.

OFFICE CHANGES

The Schools Fund office had some big changes this year:

Last spring we hired Valerie Kratzer as our Development Coordinator. It’s the first time we have a staff person dedicated to fundraising. Valerie is passionate about our schools and so enthusiastic about helping us raise more money to provide more for teachers and students. We are thrilled to have her.

In July, we celebrated Diane Dew’s 10 years with the Schools Fund! We’ve been extremely fortunate to have Diane at the center of our operation for such a long period of time. Her dedication is amazing.

Also in July, we hosted two YALI Fellows who we learned so much from and had a great deal of fun with…we’ll never forget them!

This fall, we said goodbye to Laura Klavon, our wonderful Communications Coordinator of three years. Laura took us a long way in improving our communications from top to bottom and always had great ideas. She is missed!

BSV continues 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.

p.s. if you haven’t watched our video yet, it’s here.