The Slice – Spring/Summer 2019

Big Gift Announced for 2019-2020 School Year

PiE volunteers hard at work

The community of Palo Alto families and friends worked together to bring PiE’s 2018-2019 campaign to fruition. As a result, PiE was able to pledge a $5.5 million Big Gift to our public schools, to support STEM, arts, music, and wellness services.

The 2018-19 campaign once again demonstrated a sense of shared purpose in our community, where families rallied around supporting meaningful and enriching education for Palo Alto students.

Read more about the Big Gift

Funding Today’s Needs, Planning for Tomorrow

Marine Biology at Gunn

PiE also announced ten grants that will be funded through the PiE Innovation Grants program, for a total of just over $71,000. While this program represents a rather small slice of the, ahem, “PiE,” the grants provide a much-needed source of funding to get new ideas and programs off the ground. The PiE Innovation Grant Program for teachers and staff was established in 1987 by Partners in Education’s predecessor organization, Palo Alto Foundation for Education. More than $1 million has been awarded in over 30 rounds of grants, the most recent in Spring 2019.

The 2019 funding recipients cover a range of exciting ideas. At Gunn High School, a PiE Innovation Grant will support a new Digital Arts Program (DAP) Foundation through funding iPad Pro tablets and pencils to facilitate digital drawing and creation by students. Another PiE Innovation Grant will provide digital drawing tablets for Paly Painting and Drawing Program students so they can extend their skills with the most up-to-date software for digital art design and production.

Not all PiE Innovation grants go towards high tech programs. At Barron Park Elementary School, a PiE Innovation Grant will fund a large-scale building kit used for hands-on play and learning, which features wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts, and rope that allow children to follow their curiosity through building, exploration, and experimentation. And at JLS, an Innovation Grant will support the purchase of “Breakout Kits” for the school’s wellness program, an activity that encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and risk-taking.

Read more about this year’s award recipients

A little investment goes a long way. While grants range in size from just a couple hundred to several thousand dollars, according to survey data, over 95% of the grant recipients see the continued use of the programs and/or material after the conclusion of the initial pilot. Almost 90% report continued benefits four years after implementation. In addition, nearly 70% actually reported an expansion of the pilot program to other classes and schools.

Students outside the classroom for Service Day

In 2013, a Paly teacher, Kari Snell, applied for a grant to support a school-wide service learning day, so that high school students would have the opportunity to serve the community for the morning. Service Day has since become an annual event at both high schools, occurring every spring. Community service options for students include environmental efforts, such as removing invasive species from natural environments, to serving food in a shelter, to working on a community art project. Hundreds of students sign up to participate every year, taking advantage of the opportunity to give back.

“Service Day expands our education beyond the classroom,” said Avery Hanna, a Paly sophomore, who worked with Youth Community Service to plan this year’s event. “It gives us an opportunity to try something new and learn more about our community and what we can do for it. A lot of students don’t regularly participate in community service, but Service Day gives them a chance to explore that possibility. And for students who do regularly volunteer, they are able to find new opportunities and step out of their comfort zone.”

Innovation Grants, which enable pilot programs like the one that launched Service Day, show just one of the ways that donations to PiE manifest as investments in our students, our schools, and even our communities.

The next grant round will open December 9, 2019, and all grant applications must be completed by February 24, 2020. Applicants will be notified of their outcomes in April 2020.  Everyone is encouraged to apply according to the guidelines specified on the PiE website.

Learn more about PiE Innovation Grants

Preparing for the Next Campaign

Donations to PiE fund essential instructional and supportive staff in every school in PAUSD, including expanded electives, programs in STEM, art and music, and aides and counselors. None of this would be possible without the combined support of our Palo Alto community. While we celebrate what we have all achieved together through PiE, it is important to also recognize the need to keep pace with current needs and prepare for the future. Predictably, the costs for teachers and staff increase over time. As a result, the suggested donation amount per student is increasing for the first time in four years, from $1,000 to $1,200. This amount is still similar to or less than suggested contribution levels at education foundations in neighboring districts. The increase will enable PiE to continue supporting the staffing and programs currently in place. Any additional funding may provide even more options for the future.

Every dollar donated is valuable. For those families who can afford to give more, we need to ask for an increase in support. The majority of PiE donors give the suggested amount per student. They are key to our ability to fund more than 250 staff members throughout PAUSD.

In addition to the above change, the minimum level for our Leadership Circle will go from $2,500 to $3,000. Since its inception in 2008, the Leadership Circle donation level has not increased. The benefits for participating in the Leadership Circle may be modest, but the impact of the donations are far-reaching. Gifts in the higher ranges provide nearly half of the funds raised each year. Without gifts of this magnitude, PiE would not be able to support all the programs and people who we fund each year.

Your donation is an investment in the quality of education provided to your children and in the enriched and vibrant futures they will experience.

As always, please contact with any questions.

The PiE all-volunteer board has been hard at work, getting ready for the next campaign. In April, the Board welcomed new members and set goals for the upcoming year.

Thank you for your dedication to helping the students prosper, expanding the schools’ capabilities, and supporting our community.

Thank You for Supporting PiE

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