February 2017
Progress Newsletter
Meeting the Needs of Families
with a Discretionary Fund for Principals
By: Bill Somerville
When Bonnie Hansen was a principal at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, PVF granted her a "Principal's Discretionary Fund" to meet the emergency needs of parents, children, and staff. With these funds, Bonnie helped cover a rent check for a family in extenuating circumstances, provided bus passes for students in need, and purchased coats for students shivering in the cold. She also used funds to help a student trade his gang-affiliated baseball cap for a non-gang-affiliated one.

Bonnie Hansen with two Sequoia Union High School District students

PVF has seen the success of Principal's Discretionary Funds at other schools, including Fair Oaks Community School in Redwood City, where Principal Josh Griffith purchased eyeglasses for two students to properly access the curriculum, helped cover rent for an unemployed father of three, and provided financial assistance for a battered mother to find a safe living environment for her children. As the principal of an elementary school in a low-income unincorporated area, Josh says, "This money has been able to help so many overcome odds that are debilitating, but are of paramount importance to the survival of my families."

"This money has been able to help so many overcome odds that are debilitating, but are of paramount importance to the survival of my families."

Bill Somerville recently met again with Bonnie Hansen, now the Assistant Superintendent at Sequoia Union High School District, and together they planned to expand the Principal's Discretionary Fund, making $10,000 discretionary funds available to each of six high school principals in the district so that they could help students and families in need.  The funds "make it possible for principals to take care of immediate needs of students in ways that very much impact kids' school experiences, but don't fit into a government grant. Thanks to this funding, school sites can now take care of immediate needs of the poorest of the poor kids in our care," says Bonnie.
All six principals will participate using teachers to call needs to their attention.  We are looking forward to taking this on and will report back.

PVF Founder Bill Somerville with Principal Josh Griffith
Students Make Their Own Books
with Special Education Grant
Through PVF's  Special Education Grant program, grants of up to $500 are available to Alameda County and Contra Costa County teachers and therapists to serve special education students.

Susan Walton, an art teacher at  Montera Middle School in the Oakland Unified School District, working with a classroom of 23 mainstreamed special education students and visual arts students, requested funding for bookmaking supplies.

Her idea was for this project to foster team-building and collaboration through assembly line activities. She envisioned students supporting one another in the process and hoped that the "calming effects of art" would help the mainstreamed special education students in the class.

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 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as President. 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.