Grant Writing & Impact Stories

San Francisco WritersCorps Teaching Artist in Residence Grant Application

I teach writing as a set of tools for students to use; what they build is up to them. The workshop model is central to my teaching and anchored in a classroom culture that promotes creative risk-taking and celebrates mentor texts that spark student interest.

The Creative Youth Development framework and Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project both inform my practice, one I devote to fostering student talent, valuing student inquiry, strengthening student identity and growing classroom community.

Grassroots Community-Building Seeds Shelter for Naugatuck Valley’s Housing-Insecure

In one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, the Naugatuck Valley Project (NVP) tackles the need for quality, affordable housing. Founded in 1983, NVP’s first success was the construction of 102 cooperative housing units. Since then, the organization has grown to include 23 congregations, labor unions, housing cooperatives, and community organizations committed to NVP’s mission of building “a broad-based organization for change that is initiated, organized, and led by low-income communities, working families, and people of color.”

Through decades of organizing and advocacy, Naugatuck Valley Project has found that successfully advocating for access to physical resources like shelter requires intangible but momentous shifts in attitude among municipal leaders in the towns NVP serves.

San Francisco WritersCorps Teaching Artist in Residence Impact Report

For example, this year I took another look at the sentence stems and word banks that scaffold my lessons through the eyes of a beginner and saw how the many choices I offered could overwhelm a new writer, especially in a digital environment with multiple resources to click. When it comes to word banks, a handful of words on a single page is far more effective than a sea of dozens. Sentence stems, for some students, can paralyze; in the face of all that white space, they cling to abstract, be verb + adjective constructions. This year, I experimented with sentence frames––boxes with reminders to write with action verbs and suggestions for prepositions––which steered students toward more vivid, concrete descriptions.

Buds & Blossoms Infrastructure Grant Application

Located in Fallbrook, CA, Buds and Blossoms Preschool provides stable and nurturing childcare and early learning opportunities for the Fallbrook community, Bonsall, and the military families of Camp Pendleton. Our program currently serves 62 children ages six weeks to five years between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Our in-house cook prepares a plant-based breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack for the children to eat, family-style.

Our Reggio Emilio-inspired curriculum promotes play-based learning and social-emotional development. We allow children to develop at their own rate, providing them with the communication, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution tools they’ll need along the way. In our beautiful outdoor space, young learners develop gross motor skills, explore nature, and do hands-on science in our on-site garden.

Buds and Blossoms’ mission is to create a community of learners that supports the growth and development of all the children in our program. Because families are children’s first teachers, a key part of our mission is to build relationships with our learners’ parents and caregivers that foster a sense of trust, support, and shared commitment to setting students up for success throughout their educational journeys.

Through coaching and regular professional growth training, our staff keep abreast of current research in the child development field and best practices for ensuring successful outcomes in early learning environments.
We have contracts with the San Diego Department of Education and participate in the State of California’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), a systemic approach to assessing, improving, and communicating the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs.

By participating in California’s QRIS, we have committed to embark on a path of continuous quality improvement. Even providers that have met the standards of the lowest QRIS levels have achieved a level of quality that is beyond the minimum requirements to operate. Buds and Blossoms ranks in the top ten percent.

Letter of Support

Still, even if there are ways to overcome these challenges and successfully transfer the grant to a new site, what’s at stake is bigger than a dollar amount. Your decision to close Redding OST would not only deal a blow to the Redding arts programming but hamstring or kill an initiative that shares and fulfills so many of the District’s Vision 2025 objectives, chief among them:

Personalized Pathways & Real-Life Tasks As an OST teacher and WritersCorps teaching artist, I have the bandwidth it takes to put authentic learning at the heart of my curriculum, room to take creative risks, space for the messy, two-steps-forward-one-step-back pace that marks inquiry-driven learning. My students explore and deepen their passions as they draft, research, illustrate, and lay out their comic books. They write for an authentic audience, not just classmates, but readers around the globe who access their work on our class website. They learn to use a variety of tech tools because they need them to tell their stories. They learn math in a real-world context; they develop an understanding of ratio, measurement, and geometry as part of a layout process they complete using the same software in use at professional design studios.

Motivation and Mastery My students are motivated because they have a stake in their learning. My horror writers want to sharpen their syntax because they want their sentences to sting and bleed. My science writers want their research to be accurate because they don’t want classmates to be misinformed. My memoir writers strive to render scenes from their lives in crisp and vivid language because they want to preserve and honor their families’ often difficult immigration experiences.

Aligned Investments Because District funding for my comic writing program was not available, I sought and received funding from a public agency whose vision is tightly aligned with SFUSD’s.

Healthy Sprouts Kids Garden Grant

List the primary goals of your garden program and how you will impact your community:
Our school serves San Francisco's Tenderloin Neighborhood—an area known for its drug dealers and streetwalkers, but also for its thriving Asian, Latino and Middle Eastern immigrant communities. Most of our students are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, and most speak a language other than English at home. Our neighborhood is a dense grid of storefronts and tenements whose fire escapes sometimes overflow with belongings because there is literally no room inside. There are few trees and only two public playgrounds, one of which has been claimed by the drug trade. Despite its rough edges, the neighborhood’s got a lot of heart and it’s also full of the hope and determination that make immigrant economies succeed despite the odds. The primary goal of our garden program is to be a part of this life force, to contribute to the neighborhood's vitalization by growing food that will nourish both body and mind, developing in our students a concrete understanding of the cycle of life itself.
9)How and when do/will you use the garden to teach about nutrition and hunger?:
For many of our students, hunger is not an abstract concept, but a lesson they've unfortunately already mastered. Though their bellies may be full, the quality of the food they consume is often erratic. Many rely on food stamps, food pantries and cheap fast food for calories. All of our students qualify for the Federal Free/Reduced Price School Lunch Program, and though the program has recently eliminated trans fats from its menus, many of its offerings are still loaded with high fructose corn syrup and refined white flour, and almost all school lunch vegetables are frozen or canned. Students used to receive fresh fruit as part of the after-school snack, but recent budget cuts have done away with healthy apples and oranges, replacing them with much less nutritious juices.

We will use our garden to teach children where food actually comes from; so much of what they consume is so heavily processed, they forget that food starts in the earth, not a can or a factory. We will research the nutritional content of the food we grow and compare it with that of a typical fast food meal. We will discuss the health hazards of a poor diet and the difference between empty calories and nutrition-rich calories. Upper grade students will investigate the political and economic sources of such nutritional disparities, and learn about why junk food is so dangerously cheap. We will use technology to gather data but the roots of our lessons will always begin in the soil.
10) What environmental concepts will students learn through your program?:
Our garden will be free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the children will learn how this choice will reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. We will study the health effects of exposure to pesticides and the environmental benefits of consuming locally grown produce. Ideally, our garden will include two forms of compost. We’d like to expand our small worm composting bins and build larger bins for composting dead leaves and stalks leftover after a harvest. We will learn about how composting diverts waste from environmentally destructive landfills and fertilizes the soil without harmful chemicals. Students will be involved in the growing cycle from “seed to seed”—from sewing seeds to collecting them from post-harvest plants that have “gone to seed.”
11) How will you use the fruits and vegetables you grow?:
We will use them in cooking projects that support curricular objectives in math and science. For example, last spring we grew fennel in our garden and made fennel ice cream (sounds strange, but the kids loved it). We used the opportunity for a lesson on chemistry, introducing the concepts of colligative properties and freezing point depression. We've also grown basil in our classroom window pots, and have used the basil in homemade pizza--making the dough was a hands-on lesson in the microbiology of yeast. When a harvest is especially bountiful we give away the surplus to parents to cook and eat at home with their children.
project over :
We have a small existing garden that consists of a few container plots and one worm -composting bin in a fifteen by four-foot area on a balcony that overlooks the playground. We have enough space to double the garden’s size. I started the garden eight years ago, experimenting with different vegetable seeds over the seasons. We’ve discovered that Royal Burgundy beans and Sugar Snap peas grow best in foggy San Francisco summers (our site runs a summer session), and kale, lettuce and potatoes grow well in the winter. We also have pots in the classroom where we grow herbs year-round and beans in the summer—their leaves flatten against the windows, soaking up sun (great for lessons on photosynthesis!) and their vines curl around the shade strings. Our plan is to add more containers and continue growing the varieties we’ve had success with but also experiment with new ones.

Our hands-on gardening activities will involve maintenance tasks like planting, watering, fertilizing, weeding, and harvesting, as well as assignments designed to hone students’ math and science skills. For example, in years past we have charted growth with bar graphs, comparing different varieties of the same plant, or the ways different growing conditions (soil type, container size) impact the same plant, incorporating principals of the scientific method into our experiments.

Redding Early Education Center is a smaller program within a larger elementary school. We provide academic enrichment opportunities for children of the working poor (to qualify, parents must be working, but their incomes cannot exceed certain limits). Our site has two classrooms, each one staffed with a teacher and an instructional aide. I am one of the teachers, and my instructional aide and I coordinate our site’s gardening program, scheduling garden time and tasks and creating lesson plans. We usually take children to the garden in groups of six at a time. If we receive this grant, our plan is to continue with this arrangement. I plan to sustain it with a combination of grants and instructional budget funds, depending on the School District’s fiscal situation. Some years, teachers are allotted a small instructional budget, other years they must get by with grant money or pay for materials out of pocket.