Last year, after two years of pandemic life coupled with limited opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning, the Ed Fund was eager to create more space for joy in classrooms. We proudly unveiled the Create Joy grant for educators during the 2021-2022 school year with the goal of providing SFUSD students meaningful educational experiences and bringing engagement back into classrooms through transformative social-emotional learning. The Ed Fund challenged teachers to dream big and propose joyful projects designed to combat pandemic fatigue in grants of up to $5,000. The response was incredible; we received over 30 Create Joy applications and we awarded nearly $31,000 to nine grantees.  

Here are the project overviews and reflections from last year’s grant recipients:

Dolores Huerta Elementary School 

Leadership and Legacy through Mural Arts 

Fourth graders at Dolores Huerta engaged with Paola, a muralist from Precita Eyes Mural Arts, in a visioning process for a mural that will be painted on a wall, which has historical significance for our school. Over a series of three workshops, students thought of themes and images that they thought were important to include in the mural, they sketched, colored and then created a narrative based on the final composition.  

According to the teacher grant recipient, “There was a period of disconnect in being away from our physical school space. To come back to having a wall look so sad all year, the students were really excited to provide a vision and some leadership around thinking about what to do to celebrate [students]. Another powerful thing was to hear them talk about legacy and what that means, and to make the connection that they’re leaving this legacy and connecting their memories to the past in what will become celebrations in the future.”   

Finding Joy in Writing with Kimochis 

Kindergarteners were introduced to different Kimochis characters and made connections with their personalities and temperaments in a series of writing lessons. Through interactive writing lessons, children worked on overcoming their worries and insecurities about tackling tough words with one of the characters by stretching out the sounds and watching him stretch his wings. Another character helped them work on not interrupting the teacher and using an editing tool to check their work. 

Alison Cerrudo, teacher grant recipient, sits next to a Kimochi character. The Kimochis help normalize difficult feelings for children and gives them tools to work through those difficult feelings and provides them with the reassurance that they are not doing it alone. 

Burton High School 

Community Healing Through Art 

This grant funded a mural project through an independent, community artist named Joe Colmenares. A group of 10th grade students who demonstrated a disconnect from the school community as seen through their attendance and participation in out-of-school time programs participated. According to the teacher grant recipient, “Through this grant, we re-engaged students who would otherwise not have an opportunity to connect with the school community to make it theirs. This project addressed a need for community building and healing through art.” 

Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 

BVHM Carnaval 2022 – The Colors of Love/We Love Learning! 

This grant funded materials to create a large float that was part of Carnaval, a community party that celebrates Latinx culture and the culture of the Mission district. It is an almost 40-year tradition at BVHM’s K-8 Spanish Immersion school. The grant not only funded supplies for the float, but dance and music instruction for the students to showcase a dance during the event. According to the grant recipient, “Having an event that engages the entire school community is the best byproduct of Carnaval. Over 90% of our students live in the Mission district, and this event creates lifelong memories for them, since the parade helps them to honor and celebrate their school and their community.”  

We are our Community: Somos nuestra Communidad 

This grant funded a field trip for Kindergarten students and their families to visit the murals of the Mission and for parents to choose to share a landmark in the Mission that is important to them. They incorporated literacy by having students write their own class book about what they experienced in the community and use the funds to print out physical books for each student.  

Students from BVHM participate in a field trip, funded by the Create Joy grant, to visit murals of the Mission 

Paul Revere K-8 

Scale and the Magnificent World of Flora and Fauna 

The primary objective was to support student learning about life forms to scale – both flora and fauna studies – that are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards for Spanish Immersion 3rd graders. These students loved intimate discussions and applications to learning and labs. The funds were used for science materials as well as transportation to nature areas to utilize the materials. This grant created joy in and out of the classroom, where students had the opportunity to see, hear, and feel through their scientific curiosities. 

Marshall Elementary School 

Fun in the Sun School Field Day 

Marshall Elementary held a school-wide field day in Golden Gate Park. This was an all-hands on deck event, including parents, teachers, support staff and students. We collaborated with one of our families who owns a gelato store to bring ice cream, used funds to host a photo booth, and coordinated with the PE teachers to create field day games that reflected their PE learning throughout the school year. 

Tenderloin Elementary School 

STEAM Field Trip 

This project funded an onsite field trip for over 50 second graders at Tenderloin Community School. Bay Area Discovery Museum brought their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) programing to their class. 

According to the teacher grant recipient, “If you’ve been in a classroom, you can just feel when there’s a buzz or energy that is productive. It’s messy, it’s loud, but it’s productive and exciting. That’s exactly what happened to our classrooms during this field trip. The biggest thing that was a joy to see is these kids were working on their growth mindset, making lots of mistakes, but they persevered and learned from these mistakes.” 

Bessie Carmichael K-8 

Performing Arts/Drama Therapy 

This grant provides funding for use over two semesters, engaging middle school students in performing arts-based workshops with the African American Shakespeare Company this fall. Each class will participate in 4 different workshops throughout the year where they will work on creativity, role identification, and social context in the world. Students can work on identity and sharing experience. This has an empathetic impact in understanding not only their peers at school, but the world around them. It also has an impact on students who may be interested in performing arts, but has not been able to experience it yet. Many of our students experience trauma in their lives, and the African American Shakespeare company has staff which can incorporate trauma drama therapy throughout the workshops.