A Learning Experience
by Savannah Lira, Program Officer
Philanthropic Ventures Foundation was founded on the idea of immediate response to the needs of our community. 
Within weeks of school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, PVF expanded the Environmental Science Resource Grant Program (funded by the Lampert Byrd Foundation) to support unexpected needs of teaching during this time. K-12 teachers, unsure if schools would re-open before summer, could apply for funding as they adjusted to online learning. 
The Bay Area's many learning centers and educational nonprofits have provided much of their educational material free online . W ithout the ability to take field trips, these grants offer teachers a way to continue providing their students with invaluable hands-on experience.
  • Josephine Weisner, a 2nd-grade teacher at Bella Vista Elementary School in Oakland,  received a grant to allow the school's Artist in Residence to create online cards depicting animal species and facts, to keep her students engaged and excited about learning.
Design by Ryoko Tokuho
  • Elizabeth Cooke, a 4th grade teacher at Grass Valley Elementary School in Oakland, used a grant to send her students native plants in order to track bees and other pollinators before attending a virtual field trip with the Mount Diablo Bee Keepers Association to see an actual hive and discuss the structure and anatomy of bees and the bees' relationship to agriculture.
"The students are bright and inquisitive and enjoy learning about the world around them. I am so proud of how they have all risen to the challenge of Distance Learning." - Elizabeth Cooke
  • Colette Aboudi, a special day class teacher at Fairview Elementary School in Hayward, is sending STEM kits to her deaf and hard of hearing students to use as a visual demonstration aid.
These are just a few examples of innovative thinking. This is a learning experience for us all. At PVF we like to test new ideas for grantmaking. We try out theories, keep those that work, discard those that don't, and share those experiences. Our approach to grantmaking - in which we take more risks - brings about greater innovation and impact. 
PVF continues to stand ready to help. If you would like to join us, consider donating to PVF.  Your support will allow us to move quickly to support needs in our hallmark non-bureaucratic immediate response fashion.
Victory Gardens
At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, before shelter in place and school closures, PVF awarded a $500 Environmental Science Grant to Christi Grossman, a middle school science teacher at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience in Oakland, CA. Her  plan was to engage kids in an after school program that taught them how to garden and produce organic food for humans and for pollinators. 
A few weeks later, Life Academy and the rest of Oakland Unified School District would close for the year, with students transitioning to online learning. 
But when Life Academy became a food distribution point for OUSD and saw hundreds of families coming weekly for groceries, Ms. Grossman realized that excellent soil could be put to good use and she and a fellow teacher decided to turn the empty garden beds into a victory garden.
About the Editors
James Higa
James Higa, Executive Director, brings 28 years of executive experience from Silicon Valley, working with Steve Jobs to change the face of technology. He was at the birth of the personal computer revolution as a member of the original Macintosh team and was deeply involved in the creation of many products and services at Apple over 3 decades. He has a long history of public service as a board member of Stanford's Haas Center and in grassroots relief efforts.
Bill Somerville, Founder, has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for over 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991, he founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations, on creative grantmaking and foundation operations. Bill is the author of  Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker
About PVF
PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and innovative philanthropy. Our primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.
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