Alameda Teachers Receive Grants

Alameda Unified School District -- A student taking part in the “Our Changing Planet – Community of Practice” project.
Alameda Unified School District -- A student taking part in the “Our Changing Planet – Community of Practice” project.

Alameda Teachers Receive Grants

Eleven teachers across four Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) schools were apart of two recipient teams that received LIGHT Awards from the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation.

The Intrepid foundation announced the Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers (LIGHT) award recipients on April 28. Eight school projects, including two from AUSD schools, were named recipients. Each award-winning project will receive a grant that will allow them to move forward with innovative projects next school year.

One of the winning projects came from Paden Elementary School. Six teachers at Paden Elementary School (Erin Head, Michael Kramer Wong, Joanna Katz, Christine Schnetz, Lianna Girshman and Eva Cohen) will receive a $30,000 grant for their project, The Power of Play.

The Paden community has explored this research since the 2017-2018 school year through their Learn and Play by the Bay program. Currently, the program explores play outside the classroom through their Makerspace and play shed. The Intrepid Foundation grant will allow them to deepen their research by integrating play into the classroom to inspire “choice, wonder, and delight.”

“This project will build on this team’s passion for educating the whole child and will return some of the joy to the teaching profession,” the team noted in their LIGHT Award application.

A team of teachers from Maya Lin School (Constance Moore and Emily Roberts), Wood Middle School (Lindsey Shepard and Marci Nettles), and Island High School (Heidi Guibord) and their organizational partner IDEAL Bay Area will also receive a $30,000 grant for their project, “Our Changing Planet – Community of Practice.” Through their collaboration, the team aims to “deepen our understanding of environmental justice, indigenous wisdom, and creative practice, to better understand our world, and as educators advocate for just climate solutions,” according to their grant application.

Their project includes having students learn more about the environment by taking part in out-of-classroom learning projects. The grant team drew inspiration from the district project Our Changing Planet, launched in collaboration with IDEAL in 2019 at Bay Farm Elementary, Love Elementary, Maya Lin School, Otis Elementary, Paden Elementary, Ruby Bridges Elementary, Edison Elementary and Wood Middle School.

The Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation is a private family foundation. Created in 2008, the foundation awards grants to support a thriving, effective, equitable and respected education system in California and beyond. Their main awards program is the LIGHT Awards. Launched in 2014, the LIGHT Awards recognize creative and passionate teachers pursuing self-designed professional learning. The program is designed to honor the influential role that educators play in our society, and to provide the funding and resources that help teachers thrive as professionals.

“I’m delighted to welcome this new group of educators into the LIGHT community,” said Karen Leshner, founder of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation. “I feel a special significance with this group, our tenth Cohort. Over the last decade, we’ve supported nearly 450 teachers in the Greater Bay Area in projects to enhance their skill as professionals. To the members of Cohort 10, it is our hope that your projects will bring inspiration and positive energy to you, your students, and your communities.”

To learn more, visit