Note: This story was originally published on the Chamberlin Family Foundation website. It has been modified to reflect a continuing initiative supported by the Chamberlin Education Foundation.
A record number of Gratitude Grants totaling over $211,000 are helping West Contra Costa public school teachers adapt to the challenges of ‘distance learning’ required by school closures.
For the first time, the Chamberlin Education Foundation (then known as Chamberlin Family Foundation) delivered most of the 847 individual grants to TK-12 public school teachers electronically this Spring as they close out the academic year teaching remotely due the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teachers typically use the $250 grants to purchase additional supplies and learning materials for students in classrooms. This year, CEF has encouraged teachers to acquire any supplemental materials that help them better engage students online and deliver an adapted curriculum through the remainder of the spring semester.
The foundation postponed its annual Gratitude Grants celebration until local and state officials lift the shelter-in-place order and determine it safe to hold mass gatherings. The event typically draws more than 200 teachers to collect their Gratitude Grant in person and celebrate the year with colleagues and community members.
Since 2015, more than 2,700 Gratitude Grants totaling over $660,000 have helped West Contra Costa teachers to supplement their classroom materials. This year’s Gratitude Grants awards reached 30% more teachers than the previous year, becoming the largest teacher grant cycle since the program’s launch.
The CEF team created Gratitude Grants to celebrate teachers’ hard work while recognizing that they frequently spend their own money to supplement the learning materials they use in their classrooms. A 2018 survey from the US Department of Education reported that, on average, public school teachers spend nearly $500 per year of their own money on additional materials and tools for their students.
“We created Gratitude Grants because we know that teachers are the most important factor in the quality of a student’s education. We appreciate that teachers regularly go the extra mile for the kids in their classrooms.”
— Minnie Setty, Chief Program Officer, Chamberlin Education Foundation
Next year’s Gratitude Grants applications will be available in early 2021.