Grants totaling just more than $6 million have been announced by the Novato-based Marin Community Foundation to help low-income students and students of color succeed academically, and the is one of the big recipients.
Novato schools will receive $591,275 in early-education grants and $231,911 in transforming school grants, the foundation said in a release.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for NUSD to support students and families for the betterment of our entire community,” said Pam Conklin, acting superintendent of Novato schools. “It’s about the student, of course, and each child’s academic success, but it’s also about empowering families. We’re very honored that MCF recognized us in this way and look forward to a long relationship with the foundation to we’ll be ablet to continue this work.”
About $3 million in MCF grants will support programs that will help increase the number of these students who attend college by enabling them to participate in after-school academic and social programs and to receive college scholarships.
More than $2 million will go toward the foundation’s focus on early education, from preschool through third grade, so students get a strong head start in their schooling. And about $1 million will support a variety of efforts to help schools attended by the targeted students meet the needs of those who are falling behind.
The grants are being made under the foundation’s five-year strategic initiative to close the education achievement gap in Marin. MCF’s funding is focused on the four districts in Marin attended by larger numbers of low-income students and students of color: Novato, San Rafael, Sausalito Marin City and Shoreline.
“Over the first couple of years of these efforts, we and our partners have learned a lot about the importance of a multi-faceted approach to ensure that these students benefit from the same kind of academic and career support as their peers, and ultimately enjoy the same success as well,” said MCF President and CEO Thomas Peters in announcing the grants. “In addition to fostering equity of opportunity for all students, our commitment is based on the strong impact that academic success has on life-long financial and family stability, productivity and civic engagement.”
The college readiness efforts will enable students to improve their study skills, prepare for tests, receive academic counseling, develop social and leadership skills, and learn about the college admissions and selection process.
Plus, a grant to 10,000 Degrees will provide scholarship funds for students with financial needs.
“So often, students fall through the cracks because they don’t get the extra help with their studies that can make the difference between dropping out and thriving,” Peters said. “This is a missed opportunity for these students, their families, and the community as a whole, so we’re determined to help fill that void.”
The early-education grants will continue to support a number of efforts that have already shown to be successful, stated Peters. These include a focus on involving families in their children’s education, enhancing teacher training, ensuring smooth transitions between grades, and using data to identify the specific needs of each student.
Already, educators have attended workshops held by the Marin County Office of Education on developing school-parent partnerships, and they are learning how to better identify the academic and social needs of preschool students.
“It’s increasingly clear that helping kids succeed in their earliest years of school can have an impact in later grades, and even beyond,” Peters said. “And it starts in preschool, where children acquire the skills to thrive in kindergarten.”
The grants focused on school transformation are designed to help schools in the Novato, San Rafael, and Sausalito Marin City districts undertake a variety of efforts to improve student achievement. These include strengthening school leadership, encouraging greater collaboration among teachers, involving parents, undertaking more rigorous assessment of student performance, and establishing school cultures that set high expectations for students.
“We’re excited about the early results of these kinds of activities and greatly appreciate the sustained efforts of all involved,” Peters said. “Collectively, they can improve more than test scores. They can create environments in which everyone feels respected, known, and supported.”
To date, the Marin Community Foundation has granted nearly $9 million under its education initiative. “For as long as the Foundation has existed, education has been at the very top of our list of priorities,” said Peters. “As a county, we are very lucky that education is so highly valued by people throughout Marin. There are many educators, parents, and community members eager to do what it takes to help all our young people succeed.”