In its largest-ever direct giving initiative to teachers and schools, the Chamberlin Education Foundation awarded individual $250 Gratitude Grants to 977 West Contra Costa public school teachers this year, and matched each grant with an additional award to every teacher’s school.
“We felt it was important for this year to provide additional direct support through our Gratitude Grants initiative,” said Dr. Stefanie Phillips, the foundation’s Chief Executive Officer.
“With the challenging return to in-person instruction and the additional burden facing students and teachers, we felt that adding matching grants for school sites could help participating schools reopen safely.”
West Contra Costa teachers responded in record numbers to the invitation to apply, and participation increased as teachers shared the opportunity with colleagues at their schools.
This year’s Gratitude Grants program awarded over $244,000 directly to West Contra Costa public school teachers, and more than $246,000 in matching funds to 67 participating schools. In total, the 2021 Gratitude Grants program delivered over $490,000 to support teachers and schools.
In a late-summer survey that CEF offered to participating teachers, many identified their concern about COVID-19 safety preparedness and their ability to provide the necessary social-emotional support for returning students as top priorities.
“With (COVID-19) variants on the rise,” wrote one WCCUSD elementary school teacher, “keeping students, faculty, and the school community safe and healthy is a concern.”
“Students need to feel safe before they can open themselves to the vulnerabilities of formal learning,” offered a high school teacher who works in Richmond.
Other teachers stressed the importance of demonstrating a positive mindset toward the classroom community as school reopens.
One Richmond K-8 teacher described a desire to show students and parents that teachers are “staying calm and trying to reassure parents and kids that we are in this together.”
Another elementary teacher shared that centering academic engagement and structure was important to preparing for students’ return.
“I will have to make sure that I have a direction with goals in place,” she wrote, “and that my classroom is organized and has a structure that is focused on safety.”
As the return to in-person instruction builds momentum, teachers shared, Gratitude Grant funds have allowed them to provide additional classroom materials that they know make a difference for their students’ safety, wellness, and success.
Teachers reported using Gratitude Grants for a wide range of classroom supplies including everything from “functional speech and language lessons” and “graphing calculators” to the now-ubiquitous classroom needs: “floor stickers with arrows, fans to ventilate the air, and masks.”
Next year’s Gratitude Grants application link will be available on our Gratitude Grants page beginning in March, 2022.