Grant Recipients 2014-15

The San Francisco Education Fund awards Innovation Grants to teachers who have innovative ideas about how to increase student achievement.

Educators, school site staff and volunteers are invited to apply (individually or collaboratively) for grant awards of up to $10,000 in order to bring new and innovative ideas to life.

Are you an educator who would like to apply for a grant? Visit our grants application page.

In 2014-2015, more than $140,000 was granted to teachers and school staff across San Francisco Unified School District. Meet some of our grantees and read about the powerful programs they put into place.

  • Elementary School Grants

    Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy (4 Grants)

    Grants awarded at Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy focused on providing opportunities and resources to bolster student enthusiasm and parent engagement in literacy development and helping teachers incorporate Academic Conversations in the classroom, a focus under the new Common Core State Standards. Located in the City’s Bayview/Hunter’s Point neighborhood, the school has a large population of low-income students (80%) and a growing population of English Language Learners (8%).

    Dr. Seuss Day and Literacy Night

    Recipient: Tamara Fields, kindergarten teacher
    Award: $2,931

    This grant supported in- and after-school literacy activities on Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss’s birthday) in March and expansion of a classroom library. During school on March 2nd, pre-k, kindergarten and first-grade students participated in classroom literacy activities based on Dr. Seuss books and that evening families attended a Literacy Night at the school. Teachers engaged parents in an interactive dialogue about how to advance their child’s reading skills at home. Families received one new Dr. Seuss book, several used books and a number of resources to help foster their student’s literacy development. Ms. Fields plans to make this an annual event that fuels student enthusiasm for reading, parent engagement and parent-teacher communication. She also purchased books to create a leveled library for her classroom, providing students the opportunity to check out books to practice reading at home.

    Summer Reading Program

    Recipients: Antoinette Thornton-Street and Lindsay Hatfield, second-grade teacher and Literacy Coach (at El Dorado Elementary School)
    Award: $500

    Based on the success of the summer reading program Project W.O.R.D.S. at El Dorado Elementary School, funded by grants in 2013 and 2014, two educators are helping introduce a summer reading program at Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy. Second-grade teacher Antoinette Thornton-Street and Literacy Coach Lindsay Hatfield led a two-hour training for summer staff at Dr. Charles Drew College Preparatory Academy so staff can conduct daily Interactive Read-Alouds during summer programming. The grant also provides more than 200 books for a leveled reading library and ongoing support from Ms. Hatfield.

    Mirrors and Windows

    Recipients: Susie Klein and Jessie Blundell, Literacy Specialists, and Shannon Engelbrecht, Librarian
    Award: $5,312

    This teacher training focused on increasing teacher expertise in the practice of Interactive Read-Alouds (IRAs), an element of the comprehensive literacy framework recommended by SFUSD. The school’s Literacy Specialists chose IRA as a framework to model fluent reading and metacognition, and to encourage students to participate in structured academic conversations. Over three two-hour sessions, 11 teachers learned how to incorporate new Common Core Standards into the practice of IRA, guided by several texts and grade-level planning sessions. The Literacy Specialists used pre- and post-training surveys of teachers, anecdotal evidence and formal learning walks to evaluate their impact. After the training, 89% of teachers reported leading three to five IRAs per week, up from 22% before the training.

    Opening Minds

    Recipients: Susie Klein and Jessie Blundell, Literacy Specialists
    Award: $2,297

    The school’s Literacy Specialists led a book-study of Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives (Johnston, 2012) to help teachers better understand how language use affects their students. Fifteen classroom teachers, six paraprofessionals, six behavior support staff, four instructional support staff, two Special Education teachers and two administrators — many of whom learned to teach during the era of No Child Left Behind — participated in this professional development opportunity. Geared toward developing the use of what Johnston refers to as “growth mindset professional language,” the book-study encouraged teachers to use more intentional language when praising students, ask critical thinking questions during classroom discussions and create space for more collaboration among students. After the series, the Literacy Specialists supported teachers through ongoing coaching and discussion during monthly grade-level meetings.

    El Dorado Elementary School (3 Grants)

    Grants awarded at El Dorado Elementary School, located in the City’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood, focused on providing new resources to enhance students’ literacy development. The school has a large population of low-income students (86%) and English Language Learners (36%).

    Text Sets for “Reader’s Workshop” Units of Study

    Recipients: Danielle Casimiro and Antoinette Thornton, second-grade teachers
    Award: $1,480

    Second-grade teachers purchased books to expand their classroom leveled reading libraries and support three “Reader’s Workshop” units of study: series, nonfiction, and fiction and folktale. Students worked in pairs and groups during these units, identifying patterns and making predictions in the series unit, sharing out information from the nonfiction unit, and comparing and contrasting characters, plot and the moral of the texts in the fiction and folktale unit. These texts supported reading comprehension, engagement and academic conversations in the classroom and will be utilized for future second-grade students.

    Tackling Summer Learning Loss through Project W.O.R.D.S. (Working on Reading During the Summer)

    Recipient: Antoinette Thornton-Street, second-grade teacher
    Award: $3,915

    The success of last summer’s Project W.O.R.D.S., which addressed summer learning loss through literacy instruction, prompted renewed support. Last year, 94% of students participating in Project W.O.R.D.S. maintained or advance beyond their end-of-year reading scores. This is powerful since research shows that, on average, students lose more than two months of reading skills over the summer. This is particularly an issue for low-income students, who often don’t have access to books in their homes. This summer, two teachers will provide literacy instruction four times per week during summer programming. Small groups of students who are reading at or slightly below grade level will participate in differentiated lessons. Summer program teachers will also engage all students in weekly Read-Alouds during homeroom.

    Leveled Reading with RAZ Kids

    Recipients: Melissa Nocero and Nikki Taura, third-grade teachers
    Award: $1,116

    Third-grade teachers purchased a membership to online reading programs Reading A-Z and RAZ Kids, to provide students access to a diverse collection of leveled books, engaging activities and various assessments. Using the school’s Chromebooks, teachers integrated the programs into their curriculums and utilized the assessment tools to track student progress. Printed copies of the e-books were used for guided reading groups and families had the ability to access their accounts from home, with the option of bilingual instruction. The online programs provided differentiated lessons, interactive fiction and non-fiction texts and audio features. The implementation of Reading A-Z and RAZ Kids supported students’ reading growth and computer and English Language Arts comprehension and test-taking skills. The teachers told us, “It has just been wonderful to hear students ask for more reading time because they are enjoying the interaction they are having with all the books they are able to access. Students who initially groaned every time it was time to take out a book are now excited and engaged with their reading.”

    Junipero Serra Elementary School (3 Grants)

    Grants awarded at Junipero Serra Elementary School, located in the City’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, focused on providing new resources and professional development opportunities for teachers to enhance students’ literacy development. The school has a large population of low-income students (92%) and English Language Learners (60%).

    Summer Reading Program

    Recipients: Antoinette Thornton-Street and Lindsay Hatfield, second-grade teacher and Literacy Coach (at El Dorado Elementary School)
    Award: $602

    Based on the success of the summer reading program Project W.O.R.D.S. at El Dorado Elementary School, funded by grants in 2013 and 2014, two educators are helping introduce a summer reading program at Junipero Serra Elementary School. Second-grade teacher Antoinette Thornton-Street and Literacy Coach Lindsay Hatfield led a two-hour training for summer staff at Junipero Serra so staff can conduct daily Interactive Read Alouds during summer programming. The grant also provides more than 200 books for a leveled reading library and ongoing support from Ms. Hatfield.

    Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

    Recipient: Dara Peters, second- and third-grade teacher
    Award: $480

    This grant helped a second- and third-grade teacher purchase materials to align with the Common Core State Standard’s strong emphasis on nonfiction reading comprehension. The teacher purchased two sets of biographical and science-based books so her students could enhance their vocabularies and knowledge across genres. Students used the books during daily Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops in her classroom. This addition tripled her classroom leveled library’s selection of informational texts and helped increase student engagement and achievement. Eight of the 10 students in her class who started the year reading below grade level were reading at or above grade level by the end of the school year.

    Teacher’s College: Summer Reading and Writing Professional Development

    Recipients: Jessica Leary and Jennifer Moless, second-grade and kindergarten teachers
    Award: $3,000

    Two teachers attended Columbia University’s Summer Institutes for the Teaching of Reading and Writing, where they learned how to create curricula maps aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The program, taught by esteemed literacy coaches and faculty, focused on the Reader’s and Writer’s workshop model. Now, the teachers are creating a series of professional development opportunities for their colleagues, which they’ll provide at the start of the school year. Grantees will also provide ongoing support for their peers through classroom observations and grade-level planning meetings during the school year.

    Bret Harte Elementary School (2 Grants)

    Grants awarded to Bret Harte Elementary School, located in the City’s Bayview neighborhood, helped a teacher implement audio centers that can be reused for years to come and allowed for school-wide adoption of the Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Leveled Literacy Intervention. At the time of the awards, only 8% of students were reading at grade-level. The school has a large population of low-income students (97%) and English Language Learners (45%).

    Audio Library

    Recipient: Amalia Medina, first-grade teacher
    Award: $2,948

    The highest factor in improving students’ reading scores is developing a growth mindset and the understanding that reading is exciting, according to first-grade teacher Amalia Medina. With grant funds, she purchased 20 audio books, three C.D. players and phonemic (audio) awareness activities to create listening centers for her students. Students listened to one story daily and completed a corresponding comprehension sheet. The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Ms. Medina explained, “The audio library has become a second educator in our classroom. With its support, I have witnessed a tremendous growth in my students’ reading and writing abilities, speaking and listening vocabularies and comprehension. The growth and confidence they have shown since the beginning of the year is unparalleled.”

    Leveled Literacy Intervention

    Recipients: Molly Stark, Deb Robert and D’Andrea Robinson, Literacy Specialists
    Award: $5,130

    The school’s Literacy Specialists planned to expand their reading intervention program to serve 4th and 5th students with the Fountas and Pinnell (F&P) Red Leveled Literacy Intervention System, but it was ordered too late in the school year for it to be implemented. The educators now plan to introduce the system, which has been utilized for lower grades with positive results, next year. They aim to help 65 students to reach grade-level proficiency by the time they enter middle school. Students will be placed in small groups and receive specialized instruction for half an hour, five days per week, for the duration of the school year. They will track student progress through F&P reading-level assessments before, during and after the program. This system can be used for years to come.

    Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary School (1 Grant)

    The grant awarded at Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary School focused on providing new resources to aid in students’ literacy development. The school, located in the City’s Bayview neighborhood, has a large population of low-income students (95%).

    iPads for Literacy

    Recipients: Crystal Carrillo and Ellen Teel, kindergarten teachers
    Award: $4,251

    Two kindergarten teachers purchased 10 iPads to share between their classrooms to support students’ literacy development. They created iPad stations within literacy centers in the rooms, which helped student increase their reading fluency and letter and sound recognition.

  • Middle School Grants

    James Lick Middle School (3 Grants)

    Grants awarded at James Lick Middle School, located in the City’s Noe Valley neighborhood, focused on providing new resources and opportunities for students to apply and expand their math skills. The school has a large population of low-income students (77%) and English Language Learners (33%).

    Guess My Volcano By Its Flow

    Recipient: Mike Longnecker, math teacher
    Award: $659

    This cross-curricular activity allowed students to put their skills to the test in an explosive way. The project combined earth science principles (volcanology) and mathematics concepts of ratio, rates and proportion. Student groups were assigned a type of volcano and tasked with building a scale model replica and simulating an eruption typical to their assigned volcano. Other groups guessed the type of volcano by measuring the dimensions of the volcano, comparing the height to width ratio of the volcano and calculating the lava’s flow rate.

    Light Up A Room

    Recipient: Dorothy Morallos, math teacher
    Award: $401

    In this program, students used their math and science skills to design, construct and wire a model house. Teams of two or three were assigned a single room. Students first had to design the layout of their room with furniture, appliances, etc. Then they scaled it down to the size of a shoebox. From there, they designed the electrical wiring in the room, which included lights, appliances, etc. Students had to include both series and parallel circuits in their electrical design and control all electrical components with a switch located on the outside of their room (box). At the end of the project, students brought the rooms together to make one house for the class. For extra credit, some students chose to develop lighting on the outside of the classroom house.

    Consumables for Supporting Group Math

    Recipient: Dr. Diehl, math teacher
    Award: $1,215

    The grant supported student learning and adoption of new Common Core State Standards by providing students with additional resources and tools that they need to be successful: visual learning aids, manipulatives, graphing calculators and other much-needed school supplies. For example, the new Common Core Math Curriculum has greatly increased the amount of time that students spend working in groups for the production of group posters that clearly explain the mathematics and reasoning carried out by the group, so large poster paper, markers, graphing paper and a toolkit to keep the groups’ resources together were key resources for the school’s math department.

    Everett Middle School (1 Grant)

    The grant awarded at Everett Middle School, located in the City’s Mission neighborhood, focused on expanded opportunities English Language Learners to develop their math skills. About one-third of students at the school are English Language Learners and this grant reached more than half of them.

    Math Acceleration

    Recipient: Tracy Brown, Community Schools Coordinator
    Award: $8,188

    The acceleration program and curriculum focused on a continuous effort to better serve students who are two to three years behind in developing conceptual math understanding. A 30-minute time slot was built into the school schedule and eight teachers worked with a select group of 8-12 students on basic conceptual skills focused on building number sense and problem-solving skills. The grant funded 85 hours of supplemental instruction, providing 80 ELL students with an additional 240 minutes of instruction per week. The grant also supported a math intervention curriculum, called Number Worlds (Houghton Mifflin, 2013), which aligns with the targeted needs of Everett students, providing fully integrated Common Core aligned lessons, assessments and student access to interactive online games and activities. This curriculum aligned directly to each lesson taught in class and helped build student engagement.

    Bessie Carmichael Middle School (1 Grant)

    The grant awarded at Bessie Carmichael Middle School, located in the City’s SOMA neighborhood, focused on providing crucial classroom resources to help students develop their math skills. The school has a large population of low-income students (85%) and English Language Learners (43%).

    Supplies that Support Math

    Recipient: Jamie Mancini, sixth-grade math teacher
    Award: $5,000

    The grant supported student learning and adoption of new Common Core State Standards by providing students with additional resources and tools that they need to be successful: visual learning aids, manipulatives, graphing calculators and other much-needed school supplies. For example, the new Common Core Math Curriculum has greatly increased the amount of time that students spend working in groups for the production of group posters that clearly explain the mathematics and reasoning carried out by the group, so large poster paper, markers, graphing paper and a toolkit to keep the groups’ resources together were key resources for the school’s math department.

  • High School Grants

    Phillip & Sala Burton Academic High School (2 Grants)

    Grants awarded at Phillip & Sala Burton Academic High School, located in the City’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood focused on increasing student engagement and college readiness. The school has a large population of low-income students (75%).

    Puma P.L.U.S.

    Recipient: Omar Campos, ninth-grade counselor
    Award: $5,000

    This college awareness and engagement program brought together counselors and college access providers to support a cohort of 10th-grade students. The students participated a yearlong intensive counseling and support program that included transcript evaluation, college presentations, financial literacy and student alumni panels. At the end of the year, they toured colleges in Northern and Southern California to learn more about the application process and unique school offerings.

    PUMA Success Team

    Recipient: Melissa Dollar, Program Coordinator of YMCA Beacon
    Award: $5,000

    This program was an expansion of a leadership program from last year, which aims to help high school students see themselves and their life opportunities differently. The program engaged students that have been identified as having risk factors associated with dropping out of high school. Students who were recruited for the program were asked to participate in a leadership program that builds skills and introduces students to college and career opportunities. The program had a fall and spring semester cohort, each of which participated in a service learning project and embarked on a weeklong college tour.

    Mission High School (1 Grant)

    The grant awarded Mission High School, located in the City’s Mission neighborhood focused on increasing student engagement and college readiness for African-American and Latino students, which comprise 15% and 40% of the student population, and most of whom are low-income.

    College Bound – African American and Latino College Support

    Recipient: Brian Fox, Community Schools Coordinator
    Award: $10,000

    Building on the success of last year’s grant, the two previous awardees from Mission High School received funding to continue their interventions and find ways to merge their work. The program engaged African-American and Latino students in mentorship, academic advising and family engagement. Students who successfully completed the program attended an end of year college tour to Southern California campuses.

    Thurgood Marshall Academic High School (1 Grant)

    The grant awarded at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School, located in the City’s Silver Terrace neighborhood focused on increasing student engagement and college readiness for Filipino students, most of whom are low-income students.

    College, Community and Kawpa

    Recipient: Gabriel De La Cruz, social studies teacher
    Award: $7,500

    This program engaged Filipino students in community building and a college exposure trip. The students helped plan a weeklong trip during their spring break, in which they visited colleges in Northern and Southern California and networked with Filipino student groups on the campuses.