The Ed Fund is proud to announce that, in the 2022-2023 school year, we have awarded nearly $100,000 in Create Joy grants to teachers from eligible San Francisco public schools. Most recently, we have awarded $57,000 in these grants to teachers from 10 priority schools for the Spring cycle of the process, including three school-wide projects which received $10,000 each. This year marks the greatest amount that the Ed Fund has granted to teachers in over a decade, making a significant impact for dozens of teachers – and hundreds of students – citywide.
The Ed Fund first unveiled the Create Joy grant theme for educators during in Spring 2021 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; that semester, we awarded nearly $31,000 to nine grantees. This past fall, we awarded over $38,000 to 14 grant recipients. For the current grant cycle this spring, we partnered with Division 36 of the California Retired Teachers Association, who contributed an additional $30,000 in funds to fully sponsor three $10,000 school-wide projects. We’re thrilled to have doubled the impact and the grant money distributed amongst eligible schools this cycle!
Spring grant recipients will be putting the following projects into motion by the end of this school year.
El Dorado – “Enhanced Literacy Through Experiential Learning”
Gina Cargas, school librarian and teacher at El Dorado Elementary, applied for and received a $5,000 grant for a project called “Enhanced Literacy Through Experiential Learning.”
As part of an author study program in collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library, El Dorado’s 4th and 5th grade students will be reading Bayou Magic, an incredible middle-grades novel set in Louisiana with themes including folk magic, the Gulf oil spill, family and ancestral connections, soul food, and environmental issues. Gina and participating staff are aiming to provide their 44 fourth and fifth grade students with rich, authentic experiences around food, environmentalism, music, Black histories/futures, and more to foster joy around a collective literacy experience. This grant will involve their broader community in this project, integrate experiential learning into students’ reading lives, and create joyful, affirming, literacy-oriented experiences for students historically excluded from narratives of reading and academic success.
Marshall – “Through Our Own Eyes: Self Portraits Inspired by Author Joanna Ho”
Judy L. Viertel, a librarian and teacher at Marshall Elementary, applied for and received a $3,500 grant to fund a project called, “Through Our Own Eyes: Self Portraits Inspired by Author Joanna Ho.”
The funding pays for two assemblies with author Joanna Ho: one for kindergarten/first grade, the other for second/third grade. These assemblies will help students understand that everyone’s physical features are beautiful. A portion of the funds will pay for a class set of small, shatterproof safety mirrors. These will help students observe what their faces really look like, and consider what they appreciate about their appearance.
Another portion of the funds will cover art supplies: skin tone markers, glitter glue painting tubes, and high-quality drawing paper that will hold up to the markers and glue. The skin tone markers are a key component: they validate students’ ethnic traits. This brand of glitter glue is especially vibrant and sparkly, and should get students excited about completing the project.
The final self-portraits will be displayed in the cafeteria for Marshall’s school community to appreciate.
Longfellow – “Joyful Learning through Outdoor Education and Adventures”
Michelle Jung applied for and received a $10,000 school-wide grant for a project titled, “Joyful Learning through Outdoor Education and Adventures,” which will bring back a beloved 5th grade camp tradition and make it accessible for all of Longfellow Elementary School’s 58 fifth grade students. Twenty students received the full $260 scholarship for the camp, and five students received a partial scholarship of $200.
The funds will cover bus transportation and scholarships for Caritas Creek at CYO Camp, a weeklong overnight environmental education experience near Occidental, 50 miles north of San Francisco. This camp is run by Catholic Charities, but Longfellow students do not participate in the spiritual or religious aspect of camp. During the week, students are exposed to a series of themes, hikes, activities, and lessons designed to promote learning, awareness and character development on multiple levels: personal, social, and environmental. Each day has an overarching philosophical theme to which all activities are connected: New Discoveries, Connections and Interdependence, Power and Equality, and Change.
According to grant recipient Michelle Jung, “We have not been able to bring our students to camp for the last two years and it has become increasingly more difficult for families and our school to fund this program for our students. Our students have spent a lot of time indoors for the last few years and have had very limited field trips due to COVID-19. The pandemic experience has dramatically affected the mental health of our students and families. Often, families state that their students are unable to attend due to lack of funds. Being able to offer scholarships to students with the most need [will] bring not only joy, but inclusion and accessibility to outdoor learning that would otherwise be out of reach for many in our school community.”
E. R. Taylor – “Increase the Peace”
Stefanie Eldred, a social worker at E. R. Taylor Elementary, applied for and received $10,000 for a school-wide grant to fund a project called, “Increase the Peace.” This grant will fund three separate Tier-1 Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) interventions to meet the varied needs of the school’s large and diverse community. E.R. Taylor will implement the Kimochi curriculum in Kindergarten/1st grade; Peace Corners in 2nd-5th grades, and provide sensory garden tools for Special Day Classes to use.
According to Stefanie, “Like all schools during this post-pandemic era, we are finding that our students – in particular our youngest – are struggling to manage their emotions, make friends, and feel positive about themselves, their capabilities and their futures. We want to provide differentiated SEL tools to all of our students to give them the language and experiences to help them first feel, then name and next manage their big emotions.”
Willie L. Brown – “Creating Community with Visual Arts”
Visual Arts teacher Genavie Williams received $3,700 in funding for a project called, “Creating Community with Visual Arts.”
This project will be a media arts class centered around creating content for the community, focused on the students’ experiences while leaving room for creative expression and exploration of identity. The content will be delivered in these specific formats: photography, videography, podcasting, digital art and design.
Media arts presents a special opportunity to reflect on topics such as online communication, self-identity, feelings around social media, confidence, and interpersonal relationships.
According to Genavie, “Arts education is a content area historically overlooked or worked out of the budget. Providing students with access to quality art education is essential when looking to expand their creative problem-solving skills and nourish their self-expression. This is especially important at schools such as WBMS. Our students face many barriers in their education and personal lives. Many students at our school have not had art education outside of the 30 minutes a week allotted to them in elementary school. This is exacerbated by the fact that many of their teachers did not have the capacity to teach art during the pandemic or in post-pandemic years. Now, here is an opportunity for them to engage in a meaningful and rigorous arts program.”
Buena Vista/ Horace Mann K-8 – Carnaval
Bob Armstrong, an arts teacher, received a $10,000 school-wide grant to bring BVHM’s Carnaval vision to life. Carnaval San Francisco cultivates and celebrates the diverse Latin American, Caribbean and African Diasporic roots of the Mission District and the San Francisco Bay Area, and is now in its fourth decade of celebration. BVHM’s students have been dancing in the annual parade for almost as long as its existence – nearly 40 years – with new choreography, costumes and a float each year. They use a mixture of live and recorded Latin rhythms and create an original dance especially for the parade. Carnaval San Francisco will be held this year from May 27-28, 2023.
This grant will be partially used to fund materials to create a large float, as well as dance and music instruction for the students to prepare for the parade. According to Bob, “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. Carnaval shows the whole city, and thousands of spectators, that we have a cultural impact that is not only local but that goes far beyond the Mission district. What our students remember most after the school year is not their academics – which they work very hard in – but the pride they felt and the fun they had at Carnaval. This pride in their cultural identity, and the memories they carry, are how we measure our success.”
Paul Revere – “Standing up to Liquefaction: What helps defend us against liquefaction?”
Teacher Griselda Ramirez applied for and received a $1,000 grant for a project called, “Standing up to Liquefaction: What helps defend us against liquefaction?”
Liquefaction is a process that turns solid soil into a liquid-like state, usually due to strong shaking from earthquakes… a threat that the Bay Area could experience at any moment. Part of the 4th grade Earth Science curriculum is to study this phenomenon and identify ways to mitigate its effects. Ms. Ramirez’ grant will be used for materials and equipment so that her 4th and 5th grade students can investigate liquefaction mitigation. Throughout this project, “Each student group will investigate different aspects of liquefaction mitigation… Some students will investigate how the ratio of water to sediment affects liquefaction. Others will test how different types of sediment affect liquefaction. Thus, students will need to depend on their class community to consolidate their understanding.”
Funds for this investigation will bring the science alive for students and empower them to envision potential solutions for the needs of their community.
June Jordan School for Equity – “Co-Ed Baseball at June Jordan”
June Jordan School for Equity (JJSE) is a small high school with limited resources for extracurricular activities. Terrance Amsler, a teacher at JJSE, applied for and received $5,000 to revive the school’s baseball team after a 10-year absence. This team will be explicitly and affirmatively co-ed and welcome students with little or no baseball experience.
According to Terrance, “Many students at JJSE have had limited or no experience in organized sports programs. We believe sports are often a critical part of a young person’s social emotional development. They learn how to work as a team, delay gratification, have a growth mindset, discipline- all in the context of having fun with peers and adult mentors. For many students, we’ve identified several hours daily use of social media and/or drug use as negatively impacting healthy adolescent development. We believe a welcoming sports team is a tremendous opportunity for a student to enjoy making healthy decisions that can impact their entire life.”
Read about JJSE’s Gratitude Day, a project funded by a Fall 2022 Create Joy grant.
Mission High – “Farmers Market Food with Friends”
Sara Kosoff, a health teacher at Mission High, applied for and received a $3,800 grant to fund a project called, “Farmers Market Food with Friends.” Over the years, she recalls seeing how field trips and food both fortify Mission High’s classroom community with joy – and by combining these two, hopes to have an exponential amount of joy added to health class.
Sara will use the grant to take her students on two field trips to farmers markets where they can enjoy delicious, locally grown foods and spend quality time together. She’ll be taking 120 students on a field trip, many of whom are students who recently immigrated to the United States. While they are at the markets, students will be tasked with conducting two interviews: one with a classmate and one with a farmer. The goal of the interviews is to have students practice active listening, see the ways they can relate to others, and help them learn about themselves. “Students will be connecting with folks that feed our community, and they will have this structured but non-classroom time with their health class peers,” explained Sara. “Allowing young people to access markets with fresh fruits and vegetables and providing them with the vouchers to level the economic playing field (a bit), I hope to continue to move forward whole child equity.”
John O’Connell – “Trigonometry in Real Life”
Math teacher Margaret Sullivan applied for and received a $5,000 grant for a project called, “Trigonometry in Real Life,” a project intended to help students find the joy and real-life connection in what can often be an intimidating school subject.
According to Margaret, “We want to make learning trigonometry joyful by building a unit that connects classroom lessons to the world around us. Students will build measuring tools to take outside and study the neighborhood through a trigonometric lens. We will build rockets and use trigonometry to measure their paths. Students will build 3D models of their own design. We will go on a field trip around San Francisco to historical sights and to learn about how ancient architects and ocean travelers used trigonometry to build temples, buildings, bridges and navigate the world.”
John O’ Connell – “Blended Hearts Project”
Juanita Price, teacher at John O’Connell, applied for and received a $5,000 grant for the “Blended Hearts Project,” a semester-long opportunity for Health and Behavioral Science Pathway students to volunteer weekly at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, an assisted-living and short-term care facility for seniors.
Grant funds will allow students to prepare for their volunteer work by participating in geriatric sensitivity training at school and attending orientation at the Jewish Living campus. Funds will also cover materials that the students will use in four areas of activities they will work on with seniors: arts/crafts, games, recreation, and a garden project.
According to Juanita, “Many students share excellent relationships with their grandparents or older adults in their families. Those bonds affect older adults and young people’s social and emotional well-being. Why not create a similar experience beyond the confines of home to the large community? The grant connects the theme of ‘Create Joy’ with celebrating the sharing of skills, knowledge, or experience between old and young through community service-learning experiences. The process begins with creating settings of belonging and connection for teenagers and adults to participate, grow, and thrive.”
Learn more about the SF Ed Fund Create Joy grant here.