Grantee Showcase 2023 Highlights Equity in Action

In mid January, the Schools Fund hosted our first-ever Grantee Showcase, an inspiring and joy-filled affair. Both celebration and learning opportunity, Friday’s event put center stage the Schools Fund values of community, partnership, and equity in action. Almost 150 of this year’s grantees and community partners gathered in celebration while we showcased five of our most impactful grantees from last year.

“I had not been out having a nice evening in years!” wrote Lety Amezcua, Family Engagement Specialist at Berkeley High, after the event. “I had a really good time seeing people I hadn’t seen in a while.  And listening to the presenters was so powerful and motivating.”

Our featured speakers, all LEADING & LEARNING for Equity Grantees from 2021-22, represented elementary, middle, and high school projects, as well as 2 district-wide projects.

Erika Englund, 4th grade at Sylvia Mendez, spoke to the success she had in building an infectious reading culture for her grade level (and most impactfully for her English Learners) through an expanded “playaway library.”

Aaron Lechuga, Restorative Justice Counselor at Longfellow, described the goals, activities and impacts of three affinity groups he launched last year (including Raza Youth Consilio, Young Men’s Work, and Black Girls United).

Dawn “Doc Dub” Williams, Co-chair of the African American Studies Dept at Berkeley High and leader of their African Diaspora dance program, spoke to the experience of completing a Kemetic Yoga Teacher Training and translating this ancient well-being practice back to students at Berkeley High, B-Tech, and Longfellow.

Katy McCarthy, BUSD Induction Coach, spoke to growing the Schools Fund-BUSD partnership to support the BPACT (Berkeley’s Pathway to Achieve Credentialed Teachers) program. BPACT selects “Fellows” from the classified educator ranks in BUSD and supports them financially as they study to become certificated teachers.

Joal Arvanigian, Malcolm X and BUSD Literacy Coach, has for almost a decade spearheaded, in partnership with the district-wide literacy team, a spring-time “book shopping” event and family literacy night for our low-income elementary students designed to disrupt the otherwise predictable pattern of “Summer Slide.”

Following our five presenters, Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel spoke to the grantee audience with energetic optimism. She highlighted the invitation (which is always on offer and facilitated with support from the Schools Fund) to innovate in the face of real equity challenges. She reminded educators that their job is to simultaneously support the system and critique it, so that we get to an honest product. And she commended the presenters and the larger grantee community for being real live “equity in action.”

Look out for a feature article on the Grantee Showcase in the next edition of the Berkeley Times.