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Record number of West Contra Costa teachers receive Gratitude Grants

Over 1,100 teachers to receive $250 grants to enrich classrooms; foundation resumes Gratitude Grant Happy Hour

For West Contra Costa public school teachers, the gratitude continues to grow.

During a school year in which many teachers reported feeling stretched thin, applications for teacher Gratitude Grants in West Contra Costa reached an all time high. 

The Chamberlin Education Foundation (CEF) this month delivered over 1,100 Gratitude Grants to West Contra Costa educators, a nearly 20% increase over the prior year.

In total, the foundation delivered more than $290,000 in individual teacher grants directly to local public school educators this year. 

“We know that teachers across West Contra Costa are facing difficult times,” said Dr. Stefanie Phillips, Chief Executive Officer at CEF. 

“Our foundation is excited to continue this direct-to-teacher support every year. We consistently hear from teachers how much of a difference these grants make for the students in their classrooms,” Phillips said. 

In a year that required an extraordinary effort from classroom teachers, Gratitude Grants helped them cover the costs of additional supplies and resources that they report make a difference for their students. 

A foundation survey of more than 400 prior-year grantees revealed a wide range of uses for Gratitude Grant funds. 

“I was able to buy sensory and educational materials for my students with special educational needs,” wrote a teacher at Michelle Obama Elementary School. 

“The grant is so helpful in purchasing materials needed for the lab inquiries and investigation for my students,” said a teacher at De Anza High School. “They had more opportunities doing hands-on activities.”

Others appreciated the flexibility inherent in the grant funds, which can be used broadly to support student learning and classroom enrichment. 

“It is nice to get a grant without any strings attached,” wrote a teacher at Collins Elementary School. “Sometimes, I don’t know what I need until I suddenly decide to do a project and realize I need materials that I don’t have.”

In addition to continuing financial support for teachers, the foundation will this year resume hosting an informal social gathering for grantees and school officials.

Record number of West Contra Costa teachers receive Gratitude Grants 1
Teachers gather at the 2019 Gratitude Grants Happy Hour. After a two-year hiatus, the foundation will host a teacher happy hour in May to celebrate West Contra Costa educators.

The 2022 Gratitude Grants Happy Hour will offer teachers, principals, and school and district administrators an opportunity to reconnect in person with colleagues from across the public education ecosystem. 

The Gratitude Grants Happy Hour was suspended in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, a foundation survey of past grantees indicated that over 60% were in favor of attending a social event if the COVID risk were sufficiently low, and mandated safety protocols were in place. 

Since 2020, grantees have accessed Gratitude Grant funds via their choice of physical or electronically-delivered Visa gift cards. 

“Our goal is to remain responsive to teachers’ needs, and make it as easy as we can for them to apply for and receive Gratitude Grants,” said Minnie Bhattacharyya, CEF’s Chief Program Officer. 

“The more we can do to provide resources that directly benefit students and classrooms, the better we enable teachers to encourage student success,” Bhattacharyya said. 

“I really love how easy it is to apply,” said a teacher at Kensington Elementary School. “I am so grateful for the monetary support because it allows me to buy things my classroom needs. Receiving this grant also makes me feel appreciated and valued.”

Interested in a reminder about the next Gratitude Grants application cycle? Sign up here.

About the Chamberlin Education Foundation

The Chamberlin Education Foundation supports initiatives that advance education equity and academic excellence in West Contra Costa public schools. CEF’s grants and programs support effective education leadership, high-quality curriculum and instruction, restorative student interventions, and help create and sustain a student-centered public education ecosystem.

Click here for more about our team, our vision, and our foundation’s guiding principles.