Philanthropic Ventures Foundation            Progress Newsletter  -  November 2014
Giving Thanks to Our Teacher Grant Donors

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, PVF would like to give thanks to all of the dedicated and generous family foundations and individual donors that make our teacher grant programs possible each year. These immediate response grant programs, a model PVF pioneered, provide critical funding to public school teachers in the areas of arts, math, field trips, and special education, among others. The model is simple and effective - teachers fax in a one-page request on school letterhead, and we process their request within 48 hours. No red tape, no cumbersome application process, so teachers can spend their time doing what they do best - teaching.  


This fall alone, we have given out $470,000 in grants to teachers in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano Counties. We thank our donors for making such a valuable contribution to enhance public education in our communities. 


Excursion Grants and Visiting Artist in the Classroom Grants, Funded by the Geballe Family


Fueled by the wish for kids to have more fun, the Geballe family established the Excursion and Visiting Artist in the Classroom Programs to encourage just that. The Excursion Program provides funding for fieldtrips, and the Visiting Artist program allows for artists to teach their craft to students in a classroom setting. These programs have been bringing fun into classrooms since 2010!


"I wonder if I can fully explain the depth of opportunity you made possible with your open-hearted, abundant, empowering grant. As a second-year classroom teacher - struggling to bring my outdoor education background meaningfully into my urban, gritty classroom - our day at the White Hawks Ropes Course felt natural and satisfying. More importantly, to show my students another type of learning in a wide-open and totally new setting unlocked all kinds of observation, teamwork, and joy." - High school teacher at Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland 


Special Education Resource Grants, Funded by the Thomas J. Long Foundation


Special education teachers often require additional resources to support the unique needs of their students. In an effort to close the gap between special education and general education, the Thomas J. Long Foundation funded the Special Education Resource Grants Program to support teachers and therapists serving moderately and severely disabled students. The need for these funds is apparent considering how quickly grants are requested each year; last year, funding was exhausted within one month!


Mathematics Resource Grants, Funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation


Exposure to mathematical principals at an early age can help forge a path for future math and science learning. Through the Mathematics Resource Grants Program, the Heising-Simons Foundation has provided funding for three years to preschool through 3rd grade teachers to purchase basic math materials for their classrooms.


Arts Resource Grants, Funded by the Westly Foundation


Teachers creatively use art resources to teach a variety of subjects, including mathematics, science, and language arts. Recognizing this opportunity for creative learning, the Westly Foundation has funded Arts Resource Grants for art materials and instruction for an outstanding ten years! These grants promote a well-rounded education by enabling students to learn in an exciting, hands-on way.    


After School Program Grants, Funded by the Barkley Fund


After school activities provide a unique form of learning outside of the classroom that is helpful to those who learn best through visual and movement-based teaching. These activities also provide a productive, engaging outlet for youth. The Barkley Fund has been generously funding the After School Grants Program that provides up to $2,500 to establish new clubs and programs for 7 years!


"Thank you so much for the financial support that you have given us for our school newspaper. The newspaper allows the school to feel a sense of community, and it teaches the students who are involved about teamwork, deadlines, and their own strengths and weaknesses. I cannot thank you enough for your help and support!" - English teacher from James Lick High School in Alum Rock



The need for funding in public school classrooms is great, and we are constantly seeking out donors who can help us expand these teacher grant programs. If you are interested in contributing to an existing teacher grant program or creating a new program, please get in touch! 

Where's James? Getting into the Spirit of Promoting Change with Echoing Green  


A great way to kick off any day is to learn something new about the world around us. Today, thanks to Jessica & Sam Lessin, I learned about Echoing Green's venerable work from their president, Cheryl L. Dorsey.


Since 1987, Echoing Green has backed more than 600 social entrepreneurs in sixty countries with $36 million in start-up funding.  They count among their early backers, Teach for America, City Year, and One Acre Fund.  You have to love their spirit of promoting change through entrepreneurs and building sustainable businesses that want to tackle the largest global problems.


I was energized to meet their recent Fellows from the Bay Area, Lesley Marincola of Angaza Design who wants to bring affordable solar energy to 10 million people, and Ray Faustino of One Degree working to digitally connect kids and families to poverty-fighting resources. It was also a treat to learn that our friend Fagan Harris, who PVF has supported, was also named a 2014 Fellow for his new endeavor, Baltimore Corps.


PVF In the News 

Earlier this month, PVF was profiled in a USA Today article entitled, "Struggling in the Shadow of Silicon Valley Wealth." The Inequality Gap in Silicon Valley, and PVF's work to address it, is highlighted in this article. 

Bill Somerville, PVF's Founder and President, is profiled in a USA Today article. Photo courtesy of Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY


About PVF
PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and innovative philanthropy. Our primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.
About the Editors
James Higa
Executive Director
Bill Somerville

James Higa brings 28 years of executive experience from Silicon Valley, working with Steve Jobs to change the face of technology. He was at the birth of the personal computer revolution as a member of the original Macintosh team and was deeply involved in the creation of many products and services at Apple over 3 decades. He has a long history of public service as a board member of Stanford's Haas Center and in grassroots relief efforts.
Bill Somerville has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as President. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations, on creative grantmaking and foundation operations. Bill is the author of Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker.

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