The Ed Fund is proud to announce that, in the 2023-24 school year, we have awarded $197,511 in Create Joy grants to educators from eligible San Francisco public schools. This school year marks the greatest amount that the Ed Fund has granted to teachers in over a decade, more than doubling last year’s record of $95,000.  

For the 2023-24 Spring cycle, we will be distributing $82,379 to fund 19 Create Joy grant projects to educators from 10 priority schools. For our fall grant distribution cycle, we distributed nearly $115,000 in Create Joy grants to fund 18 projects across 13 SFUSD schools. We are delighted to be making a significant impact for dozens of educators – and hundreds of students – citywide.   

Funded projects from this grant cycle include a trip for Paul Revere’s 6th through 8th graders to the Circus Center where they’ll be introduced to aerial acrobatics and have the chance to “fly” 30 feet in the air, investment in camping gear so Visitacion Valley’s current and future 5th graders can attend a year-end camping trip for years to come, and a special trip to Disneyland’s Imagination Campus for Everett’s music students to learn the joys of sightreading from a professional. The funded initiatives from this grant cycle showcase a commitment from educators to creating joyful learning environments that extend beyond typical classroom lessons, and aim to positively transform the school experience overall.  

The Ed Fund extends its heartfelt gratitude to AECOM which is sponsoring $54,000 in Create Joy grants for the Spring cycle.  

Spring cycle grant recipients will be putting the following projects into motion by the end of the school year:   

K-8 Schools: 

Buena Vista Horace Mann | California Gold Country and its History: An Experiential Field Trip 

Bob Armstrong, fourth grade teacher, received $4,760 to take the school’s fourth grade cohort of 65 students to attend an overnight fileld trip, camping in “Gold Country” alongside their peers and family members, all while learning about a critical time in California’s history. The grant will cover the majority of funding needed for this overnight trip, which includes hands-on “mining for gold” activities and a discussion about local indigenous tribes before and after the discovery of gold. “We will measure the success of this trip both quantitatively and qualitatively – by measuring students’ growth on 4th grade social studies standards related to the Gold Rush before and after, and by gathering informal data from students and families on their experience during and after the field trip,” explained Bob. “We also can’t overstate the once-in-a-lifetime experience of spending the night with sixy of one’s schools community peers, the ensuing camaderie it will reinforce between that cohort, and the positive social impact it will have on their relationship with one another.” BVHM’s 4th grade trip is confirmed with the Mother Lode River Center for early April.  

Buena Vista Horace Mann | Somos Nuestra Comunidad / We are our Community 

Araceli Leon, kindergarten Spanish immersion teacher, received $5,000 to continue a project initially developed and funded in a 2022 Create Joy Grant with a goal of teaching students about the importance of exploring the world around them – specifically in their home of the Mission District – and building school engagement. This grant helps fund having community members speak about their experience in the Mission District. This grant will provide opportunities for BVHM’s students to engage in the community through a community walk in which they support local businesses. Ultimately, this grant will help fund the publishing of community books made by the school’s Kindergarteners. “We will work as a team with families to co-create community maps that identify landmarks in our community are special and meaningful,” said Araceli. “This project honors our students and their experiences.”  

Paul Revere | Out of this World- Fearless Flying 

Pamela Stein, counselor, received $3,024 to take 80 6th-8th grade students to the Circus Center – a non-profit circus training and performing arts center in San Francisco – for an introduction into aerial acrobatics and a couple other circus events. Pamela believes that this will provide exposure to a new and enriching creative community, and give them a chance to feel empowered and confident. “My desired outcome is for participants to experience overcoming an obstacle/fear, managing emotions by finding a way to interrupt the negative thoughts, and having an opportunity to show empathy with peers,” explained Pamela. “I hope they return to school with a huge sense of pride for taking a chance on flying 30 feet up in the air. I think the ‘I can do it’ attitude that was needed for flying will transfer to the campus.”  

Paul Revere | Campus Beautification Mural 

William Eaton, school principal, received $5,000 to partner with the “Create Peace Project,” an organization that creates mosaics in order to engage in the school community to plan, design, and create a mosiac mural to be installed in the front entry of the school. Create Peace Project will work with Paul Revere K-8’s art teachers to help facilitate students creatively thinking about a design, and will facilitate tactile experience of engaging with mosaic tiles in creating smaller portions of mosaic. “Because the piece will be a permanent display, those who have created it will get to see it and be minded of the experience for years to come through their career at Paul Revere,” said Principal Eaton. “For those who are new to the school in the years ahead, the beautification of the school will bring a sense of appreciation and belonging.”  

Elementary Schools: 

César Chávez | Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) Smartboards  

Conor Kelly-Cummins, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) teacher, received $5,000 to purchase three SmartBoards for the school, which is an interactive tool for teacher and students that allows users to edit and annotate directly on the screen with a stylus or their finger. This piece of technology is common in many private schools, but is expensive which makes it inaccessible to most underfunded public schools. César Chávez Elementary was provided with a loaner from the company for one month to try, and it made a drastic impact on the 25 students in the DHH program in a short time. It was much easier to engage the students and hold their attention, so they are delighted to be receiving funding for three SmartBoards through the Ed Fund’s Create Joy grant. The intended outcomes for this project are enhanced curriculum development, cooperation, and collaboration among the three teachers using the technology, and a more exciting and engaging education environment for the students. Students will also be able to work with other DHH classrooms both locally and nationally.  

ER Taylor | The Science and Art of Fashion 

Lei Kim Sawyer Chavez, fifth grade teacher, received $5,000 to give 110 fifth graders the chance to experience the scientific, artistic, cultural, historical, ecological and financial significance of fashion in a global economy. Funds will be used to visit the Academy of Art University and the De Young Museums, as well as buy books on various fashion designers and fashion history – ultimately creating a curated library of books relating to fashion. At the end of the semester, students will stage a fashion show as their portfolio project. 

Visitacion Valley | Creative Play and SEL in the Library 

Dylan Beighley, teacher and school librarian, received $1,300 to purchase a robust and collaborative collection of play materials – including Legos and Magnatiles – allowing students to engage in creative play during library and lunch club. Many of the school’s families cannot afford these kinds of toys, so providing access at school gives all students chances for joyful, imaginary play. These moments of free play serve as more than just recreational activities; they serve as platforms for practicing SEL skills in a supportive, structured environment. “During library class, creative play sessions will be accompanied by SEL lessons taught by myself and our wellness advisor that build on lessons taught in the classrooms, with a focus on interpersonal skills like empathy and conflict resolution,” explained Michelle. “During lunch clubs, students will have the chance to interact with peers from other classes and grade levels, building a stronger community at the school.” 

Visitacion Valley | Camping Trip for 5th Grade  

Richard Agcamaran, fifth grade teacher, received $5,000 to pay for camping gear to be used year-after-school for the school’s fifth graders. The funding will provide an abudance of tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads so that each year the fifth graders will conclude the year with a memorable and special camping trip before they head off to middle school. “Leaving to middle school can be a scary, nervous, and/or exciting experience, explained Richard. “A camping trip [will] be a great way for our students to bond with their classmates, and also create new experiences outside of school that still creates strong social, emotional, and educational experiences.”  

Visitacion Valley | The Vis Valley Community Drumming Project 

Michelle Vidal, school social worker, received $5,000 to purchase 10 sets of three nesting drums for the school to providestudents with culturally relevant ways to teach breathing, meditation, and centering into the present moment. It gives not only children a cultural tool for managing their mental health and wellness but it is available to the larger community in that staff, parents, and community partners would be given opportunities as well to find centering and tools to heal themselves and prevent the cycle of generational trauma. “Drumming to heal in times of stress or grief would also open to times of celebration, addressing the whole child’s needs to be seen for who they are, be given a tool that is relevant to their cultural and lived experiences and that lifts up our most disenfranchised community members by reminding them that we are hardwires to heal ourselves, and that is rooted historically in culture,” explained Michelle. The grant funding will also bring in professional healers to lead students and educators in drum sessions.  

Middle Schools: 

Denman | School Beautification Mural and Memorial 

FinaLee Pengosro, 6th through 8th grade teacher, received $5,000 which will provide funding to create a mural to honor Amahje Emenike, a former 8th grader and school basketball star who was tragically killed in a hit-and-run crash in December. “Middle school is already a challenging place for adolescents. Losing a student in our community puts on another layer of challenges,” explained FinaLee. “Grief does not have a start-and-stop process. It is ongoing, surprising, and can be triggered days, months, and years after the traumatic event. Healing through art not only allows our students to explore their emotions through creativity, it enhances their existing emotions and innovation.” This mural project serves not only to beautify the school grounds, but it will be a memorial to Amahje, the school’s “Forever MVP”. The main goal of this mural project is to support students in their efforts to heal in this time of mourning. The mural will include word pieces that their students have created, a memorial portrait of Amahje, and picture representations of the schools’s ideals for education: power and respect.  

Denman | Spreading Wellness School Wide 

Jennifer Donahue, school nurse, received $5,000 to create Peace Corner Tool Bins in tandem with the launch of the school’s new Wellness Center, which will help to spread wellness practices to every classroom, enabling teachers to create a quiet, calm and welcoming space in their classrooms, impacting 800 students at the school. The components of the kit include 100 noise cancelling headphones, 50 flitter wands, colored pencils, and more. Funding from this grant also provides students with team-building field trips. “We believe that these peace tools will be seeds to grow calmer, more welcoming, and more engaged classrooms,” explained Jennifer. “We believe the Advisory field trips will allow students to feel a sense of belonging and strengthen their sense of community. These impacts will continue long after the grant funding ends.” 

Everett | Everett Bikes 

Dalton Pizzuti, physical education teacher, received $5,000 to purchase a full class set of 20 bikes, which will bring in a bike unit for the students. The YMCA’s Y-bike program came to Everett last year, but unfortunately they were not able to teach all students since the school did not have a full set of bikes at that time. “When students participated in the bike unit with the Y-bike program, they were overwhlelmed with happiness. Many students who did not know how to ride a bike, learned to! As a result, many families purchased bikes for their children to ride at home. The overwhelming majority of students said that this was their favorite part of physical education last year, and we wanted to be able to have all students participate in this experience.” With 20 bikes provided through the Ed Fund’s Create Joy grant, all Everett 6th-8th grade students will have the chance to learn how to ride a bike if they have not yet learned, and Dalton will teach them how to ride a bike safely in San Francisco. This will ultimately providing them with a healthy activitity that stimulates joy and happiness, while also knowing how to safely navigate the streets on a bicycle.  

Everett | Sight-Reading Workshop Experiential Field Trip 

Mackenzie Cutshall, music director, received $5,000 to fund a trip to Disneyland’s Imagination Campus for 25 students in which they will work with a professional musician to learn how to sight-read music. “Students will learn new skills that focus on musical performance such as tonality, rhythm, and pitch. The workshop aims to equip them with the tools necessary to independently read their music upon first glance with little to no error,” said Mackenzie. “The process focuses on how to work through mistakes instead of stopping and starting over. I want my students to take what they learn in this workshop and apply it to as many scenarios as they can. My intended outcome is for students to feel more comfortable and confident in their ability to read and play music as emerging musicians. 

High Schools: 

Burton (Phillip And Sala) Academic High | Professional Shakespeare Play and Workshop for all 12th graders 

Madison Smits, AP Literature teacher, received $1,610 to provide the school’s 12th graders with the opportunity to see a Shakespeare play, which will take place at Burton so it’s as accessible as possible. “Live theater provokes a wide range of emotions, aids effective communication, and boosts critical thinking. By having all senior students in attendance of this live show – not just higher level readers – it will provide students with an empathetic view of the past, and an opportunity 

to build community for one of the last times before they graduate. I strongly believe there is a connection between joy and the learning process, and this performance can provide the joy that is needed to positively impact cognitive development.” The grant funding will be directed towards the SF Shakespeare Festival which includes a one-hour show in mid-March.  

Burton (Phillip And Sala) Academic High | Finding Joy in Memoirs 

Kate Steinheimer, English and English Language Development (ELD) teacher, received $5,000 to purchase 50 copies each of several different books, in an effort to make reading more joyful for her students. Books include “Deeper the Roots” by Michael Tubbs, “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner, and “We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story” by Simu Liu. The 11th grade students will have the opportunity to choose which books they want to read.  “Many of our students do not enjoy reading because they do not see people from backgrounds like theirs reflected in the literature. In addition, they do not believe that their own stories have power and are interesting to others. This project is designed to address both of these issues, and also build community in our classrooms. Students will share ideas and their own stories with classmates. We believe that having choice in what they read, seeing people like them reflected in the stories, and discussing their reading with classmates will help them find joy and satisfaction in reading and inspire them to tell their own stories in writing.”  

June Jordan School for Equity | Journey of Compassion: An Exploration into Animal Welfare & Food Inequity Education at Animal Place  

Aida Marin, science teacher, received $2,935 for 20 students to engage in a transformative experience that will help them foster an appreciation of animal rights, ethical treatment, and the importance of humane practices. The funding will include a tour of a reputable animal sanctuary in hopes of offering a new perspective, as well as a meal at a vegan restaurant to expose students to a new perspective on a plant-based diet. “This field trip holds the potential to provide long-lasting impacts for our students because they are being given the opportunity to engage with rescued animals while immersing themselves in plant-based eating that directly supports these beings,” said Aida. “To engage in the school’s three pillars: Independent Thinkers, Community, and Social Justice, offering trips like this one will prompt students to become catalysts for chandisneyge in their communities.”  

June Jordan School for Equity | Dance Intersession 

Kevin Torion, world history teacher, received $3,750 to enhance the school’s Dance Intersession this May. At JJSE, all students participate in a three-week experiential program, and about 25 students will be a part of this Spring’s dance group, in which they’ll learn Capoeira, hip hop, bachata, bhangra, and breakdancing. “Students will be able to attend professional dance classes all over San Francisco, giving them a chance to experience dances, not only from their own communities, but from other cultures as well,” said Kevin. “Not only will they learn the traditions and backgrounds of these dances, but most importantly they will have a chance to learn more about themselves and build community with their classmates through the joy of movement and music. Research has shown dance provides creative and emotional outlets, something we can’t always do under the constraints of a traditional classroom.” 

June Jordan School for Equity | Food Around the Bay  

Fatema Elbakoury, English Language Arts (ELA) teacher, received $5,000 to engage in the community through food in an effort to raise awareness of the deeply seated histories of the Black, Latinx, and Asian communities throughout the Bay Area. Funds will cover transportation to Oakland as well as San Jose for 24 students and two teachers, and attendees will participate in the Mission District Food Tour, the Wok Wiz Chinatown History & Food Tour, and more. Students will also participate in a baking and cooking class, so some of the funds will be used to purchase materials. Through cooking and baking, which are tasks that require precision and patience, we hope to support students in building stamina within themselves,” said Fatema. “We believe this three-week intersession will bring joy to students not only for how it will increase their awareness of the cultures in the Bay Area.” 

Mission | Black History Student Celebration! 

Chandra Sivakumaran, wellness coordinator, received $5,000 to fund the school’s Black History celebration in April. The project includes hosting a motivational guest speaker to guide conversations on social-emotional learning and academic focus, a field trip exploring the African diaspora, and a photojournalism project capturing the vibrant aspects of students’ neighborhood lives. These initiatives aim to build equity by showcasing diverse cultures and community resources. Intended outcomes involve increased knowledge of African diaspora history, enhanced understanding of identity through workshops and dialogues, and a personalized exploration of SF neighborhoods. The impact will be measured through the students’ utilization of gained knowledge in a Black Student Union assembly, promoting a better understanding of African American culture and contributions among the entire student body.  


Learn more about the Ed Fund Create Joy grant here