By Quincy Banbury, Santa Barbara Education Foundation
SANTA BARBARA, CA, January 31, 2024 – The annual Teacher Grants program by the Santa Barbara Education Foundation (SBEF) awarded a record-breaking $200,000 in grants to Santa Barbara Unified teachers in an awards ceremony held at the Carrillo Recreation Center on January 25, 2024. Since 2018, the program has flourished, awarding an impressive 387 grants totaling over $675,000.
This year’s funds will go to 83 educators across 21 schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District to fund various projects promoting innovative teaching ranging from 3-D printers to theater performance camps.
Also new this year is a $10,000 tech-focused STEAM grant awarded to a single school site. The first $10,000 grant was given to the Computer Science Academy at Santa Barbara High School to aid its mission to expose students to computer science and demonstrate its relevance to their academic and career interests.
Director Sky Adams accepted the grant on behalf of the Computer Science Academy and will use the money to improve the academy’s facilities and programs. In addition to technical upgrades, the funding will enhance the extracurriculars serving 340 students. “Outside the classroom, the CS Academy offers many opportunities for students to pursue their passions, make friends, build their college resume, and gain valuable experience through clubs, industry speakers, field trips, and more!”
Former Board President Joni Meisel saw the origins of this impactful giving in 1985 and shared her unique perspective on how far the Teacher Grants program has come. During her speech at the Teacher Grants Award ceremony, she recounted the program’s beginnings, which started by asking local businesses for donations to fund two grants of $250 each. “You take this mission beyond our expectations for fundraising,” said Meisel, “and you have an impact beyond our wildest dreams.”
“I am immensely proud that during the time I have been here, we have been able to see our Teacher Grants double in the total amount awarded,” shared SBEF Executive Director Pedro Paz. “We are grateful for the support of our community that has provided teachers an opportunity to impact their students.”
For Wendy Kanter, a Santa Barbara Charter School teacher, the grant will fund wildlife habitat lessons and garden education. She hopes to educate students on the process of growing food. “It is an opportunity for students to learn about where their food comes from. If they appreciate the process, they will better understand it is a resource that shouldn’t be wasted.”
This year’s successful grant program is made possible by the generosity of donors, including The Gainey Foundation, Google.org, The John C. Mithun Foundation, and the Gretler Foundation. SBEF would also like to thank its award ceremony event sponsors, Whole Foods and Lazy Acres Natural Market, for their invaluable support.
The Santa Barbara Education Foundation works to generate private support for Santa Barbara’s public schools, impacting 12,200 students. To learn more about Teacher Grants and the foundation’s other programs or to get involved, visit www.santabarbaraeducation.org.