Funding Helps Teachers Prepare for the Common Core

Beginning in the 2014–15 school year, students across California will be assessed according to the new Common Core State Students, and for middle school students in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, that means a huge booth for the math teachers who are making sure they’re prepared.

Recently, the Silicon Valley Community Fund made a big donation — a little more than $900,000 — to 17 school districts and nonprofits in the two counties to help prepare 614 math teachers for the new standards. The grants range from $10,000 to $100,000. Of the 17 organizations receiving funding, the majority are returning grantees, and five are first-time grantees. (See Silicon Valley Community Foundation: Bay Area Grants).

"At the classroom level, these rigorous new standards will challenge teachers' content knowledge and also their ability to deliver effective instruction that meets the intent of the standards," Gina Dalma, program officer for education grantmaking said in a statement. "Supporting teachers requires new and intensive approaches to professional learning, and new uses of technologies, programs and productivity tools." (Read Gina Dalma's IP profile).

The SVCF has a two-pronged approach to education giving in the valley. The first is an "in-school" focus, which helps to better prepare teachers and improve classroom instruction. The second focuses on  "out-of-school" learning, and was designed to support before- and after-school learning programs, as well as organizations that offer summer learning opportunities. Overall, SVCF's education plan is focused on improving learning and accelerating math learning for students of color and low-income kids.

All of the 17 awards are "in-school grants," and they'll go to a variety of programs throughout the two counties.

Two large awards were made for school districts in the two counties, with the hope that the awards would help facilitate "system-wide improvement in teacher efficacy." The San Mateo County Office of Education received roughly $100,000 to benefit all of the unified school districts in the county, and a $60,000 grant was made to the Campbell Union High School District for the high school district and all its feeder K-8 school districts.

"Both entities will provide professional development to facilitate a collaborative, well-structured approach to the common core standards that will benefit students of all grade levels," a statement from the foundation read.

Other grants were made for programs that improve pre-service and math educators early in their career. San Jose State University received $10,000 to develop a program to help new math educators, and a $30,000 grant to RAFT will be used to establish an instructional curriculum for teachers.

SVCF has long been committed to improving education throughout the valley. Since 2009, the foundation has invested more than $9 million into education programs and nonprofits in the region.