RICHMOND, CA — In a major expansion, the annual Gratitude Grants program for West Contra Costa educators this year increased the teacher grant amount for the first time since its launch in 2015.
The increase—to $300 per grant—is intended to offset the rising costs that local teachers face in out-of-pocket costs when adding classroom materials and supplies that help them engage students.
In total, the Chamberlin Education Foundation (CEF) delivered more than $415,000 in Gratitude Grant funds to nearly 1,400 local public school educators in April, a funding increase of 62% over the prior year.
“Our team and our board felt that teachers could use even more direct support,” said Thomas Laymon, the foundation’s Program Officer leading talent investments.
Recent inflation figures and this year’s increase in federal tax deductions available to qualified educators for unreimbursed spending factored into the foundation’s decision to increase Gratitude Grant awards from $250 per teacher to $300, according to Laymon.
“As a former educator, I know how common it is for teachers to spend their own money on classroom materials,” Laymon said.
“We felt it was important to recognize that our educators are shouldering a larger share of these costs, and we wanted to help offset that increase with our Gratitude Grants this year,” Laymon added.
A 2022 foundation survey indicated that a wide range of educators were using Gratitude Grants to bolster materials budgets and create enriching and inclusive classrooms for West Contra Costa students.
“I was able to buy sensory and educational materials for my students with special educational needs,” wrote a teacher at Michelle Obama Elementary School in one survey response.
“The grant is so helpful in purchasing materials needed for the lab inquiries and investigation for my students,” shared a teacher at De Anza High School. “They had more opportunities doing hands-on activities.”
Since its founding in 2015, the foundation’s Gratitude Grants program has delivered over $1.5 million directly to educators across West Contra Costa. The program is CEF’s largest direct-to-educator funding initiative.
In addition to expanded financial support for teachers, the foundation hosted its annual social gathering for grantees, school officials and community partners on the eve of Teacher Appreciation Week.
The 2023 Gratitude Grants Happy Hour offered teachers, principals, and school and district administrators an opportunity to connect in person and celebrate this year’s successes with colleagues from across the public education ecosystem.
Next year’s Gratitude Grants application will open in March, 2024. Sign up here for updates and related announcements.
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.