Berkeley Public Schools Fund
Erin Rhoades, Executive Director
Release Date: March 8, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wareham Development announces $1 million commitment to Berkeley Public Schools to close the opportunity gap in STEM Education.
[Berkeley, CA]—Wareham Development will make a $1 million donation over four years to the Berkeley Public Schools Fund to help close the opportunity gap in STEM education for Berkeley students. The Berkeley Unified School District and the Schools Fund will match Wareham’s funding and is actively seeking additional private donations to help meet this match.
I believe this is a partnership that can be a model for other California school districts — leveraging Career Technical Education and summer and “extended day” State funding to close the opportunity gap in STEM learning and supercharge post-pandemic learning with support from private sector funds. —Rich Robbins, Wareham Development
The funds will be invested in STEM opportunities “outside of the school day” for Kindergarten through 12th grade students. The package of programs, free to BUSD families, includes:
- STEM/Maker Summer Camp: A 4-week summer camp for 250 6th-10th graders, plus field trips for campers on weekends during the school year.
- STEM/Maker Mentors: Paid student internships for 40 11th and 12th graders to serve as mentors in the STEM/Maker Summer Camps.
- Super Science Saturdays: A weekend STEM enrichment program serving 240 1st-5th graders for 6-week sessions in the fall and spring.
- Winter and Spring Break Camps: STEM exploration activities will be incorporated into existing kindergarten to 5th grade programming during school recess breaks.
“The partnership with Wareham is truly an example of our mission into action— to inspire our diverse student body to achieve academic excellence and make positive contributions to our world,” says BUSD Superintendent Enikia Ford Morthel.
The programs will be by invitation with the intent to close the opportunity gap in STEM education for populations historically underrepresented in STEM fields. The Schools Fund will manage the STEM programming in partnership with the District.
“Wareham shares our vision to create supportive and enriching STEM education experiences for student populations that historically have not had access to high quality K-12 extracurricular experiences. We’re excited to build connections that open doors to real opportunities in high school and beyond,” says Schools Fund Executive Director, Erin Rhoades.
A “STEM Training Institute” for BUSD staff will prepare educators currently working in afterschool or classroom support roles to be STEM program instructors for the year-around programming.
The STEM Summer Maker Camps are offered by the Career Technical Education (CTE) program in BUSD. In recent years, the CTE program has built out Makerspaces at each middle school and implemented related course offerings 6th-8th grade.
“Last year we piloted the STEM Summer Maker Camps and this year, with Wareham’s support, we’re expanding and creating a whole set of experiences that invite students to explore and build confidence in their skills and their future,” says Wyn Skeels, BUSD’s CTE Supervisor.
CTE offers “wrap around” college and career planning and counseling starting in the summer before 9th grade, and it also organizes STEM Career X days connecting high school students with businesses in Berkeley’s growing tech sector.
There are 11 CTE pathways at the high school for advancing college or career plans in engineering, biotech, design and digital media to name a few. All CTE courses are A-G certified for admissions to UC and are available for enrollment to all BUSD students.
The partnership between Wareham Development and Berkeley Public Schools provides students with real-life, career-connected learning that will empower each student to chart their own life path in high school, and beyond.
The Berkeley Public Schools Fund (then Berkeley Public Education Foundation) was established in 1983, when Proposition 13 tax restructuring began impacting public schools. A group of Berkeley parents and community leaders, concerned about the diminishing resources for public schools, created the Berkeley Public Schools Fund.
Starting with grants, followed by volunteers, the Berkeley Public Schools Fund has been a reliable resource for educators and for the broader community interested in supporting public education, since its founding.