Parent Club Starts New Grant Program

Kelly Pien, Opinion Editor

The Parents’ Club is setting aside $75,000 for their new “mini-grant program,” which will allow teachers to request money to fund new supplementary instructional materials.

According to vice principal Sharon Bartlett, this is on top of the money that MEF and the Parents’ Club usually donates to the school. “I think the financial resource is wonderful. We are very grateful. $75,000 to put toward student learning is great,” Bartlett said.

Parents’ Club president Wendy Dunn said the Parents’ Club is looking for projects that enhance the curriculum, aren’t paid for already by other sources of funding, and impact the greatest number of students. According to Bartlett, examples of projects that would be funded include various technologies, like an Apple TV and lab equipment, or hands-on programs. Dunn said the parents are looking for proposals that use the purchased items “creatively.”

According to a program description from the Parents’ Club emailed to teachers, those interested in receiving a mini-grant must complete an application process.

First, they must complete an application form that describes the project, who it will benefit, how it will help enhance students’ learning, and the estimated cost of implementing their changes should they get the grant. The form is then signed by Principal John Walker, and delivered by him to the Parents’ Club board at their next meeting.

Second, the Parents’ Club board conducts a preliminary review of the proposal and decides whether or not to send it on to the final round of consideration.

Third, the applicants give a presentation to the Parents’ Club board explaining their proposal. The Parents’ Club board then decides whether or not to fund the project.

There is currently no minimum or maximum amount of money a teacher can request, according to Dunn, and as long as there are funds, teachers can apply. Teachers can also request partial funding.

The idea for the program was proposed and approved by the 2012-13 Parents’ Club board. Dunn said, “We were looking to find a program that would provide Campolindo teachers additional ways to foster innovation in their curriculum.” This year, Dunn created the mini-grant program by taking elements of other grant programs, such as those of the Childrens’ Hospital of Oakland, MEF, and other school districts, and adapting them for Campolindo.

According to Dunn, “numerous” teachers have already sent applications to Walker.

One of these applicants is photo teacher Collette Sweeney, who is applying for a grant to allow her students to make t-shirts with their photographs screened onto them. “I think wearable art is a terrific way to highlight the work students are making,” Sweeney said.

According to Sweeney, photo students had discussed the idea both last year and this year. The presentation is being planned by Photo Club president Hanna Schoenberger and a few students from the photo classes. It will include some sample images from the photo program “so parents can see what kind of work photo students do,” said Sweeney.

According to Bartlett, the program is one that will encourage innovative teaching, and the mini-grants will act as rewards to get teachers to “excite students to learn.”

Dunn believes the application process could change over the year. For example, Dunn said they are “moving towards” having a committee of Campolindo parents, separate from the Parents’ Club board, oversee the decision-making process.

The 1st applications will be reviewed by the Parents’ Club board on November 4.

As of now, Dunn is uncertain how long the Parents’ Club will be able to sustain the program, but said she is “hopeful the 1st year will have a successful impact on students at Campo.”