February 24, 2022

Each year, Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) offers teachers, staff, and students in the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) the opportunity to apply for funds through the Innovative Grants Program. In celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary, IPSF increased its commitment to innovation by awarding IUSD educators at 25 schools and/or department with grants of up to $10,000 each, for a total of $250,000.

The purpose of this grant program is to support innovation in schools by awarding funds to launch new curriculum or projects to improve the educational experiences of students throughout the district.

Projects awarded this year included innovation labs, school garden projects, communication devices for speech and language programs, robotics technology, media equipment, virtual reality, and sensory tools for mental wellness.

“We are proud to support IUSD educators who are passionate about elevating student learning far beyond standard academic curriculum, keeping our schools centers of innovation,” explains Neda Eaton, President & CEO of Irvine Public Schools Foundation. “During these challenging times, we are grateful to the group of passionate donors who stepped forward this year to ensure that Irvine students continue to have the most innovative learning opportunities available. A special thank you to Emile and Dina Haddad for their generous leadership gift to help expand the program.”

In addition to his family’s leading contribution, Emile Haddad served as Honorary Chair of the 2022 Innovative Grants Program.

“Over the last 25 years, a lot has changed in our lives, and it is all due to innovation,” said Emile Haddad, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of FivePoint. “If we are going to give our children the best chance to succeed in today’s world, we must provide them with opportunities like this program, which are made possible through collaboration of corporate leadership, community leadership, and parent support through IPSF.”

Additional funding for this year’s Innovative Grants Program came from corporate partner donations from Assistance League of Irvine, the Chinese American Mutual Association (CAMA), and parents’ donations via the IPSF, Parents Appreciating Teachers and Staff (PATS) program.

Since 1996, IPSF’s Innovative Grants Program has awarded over $2 million to teachers and counselors, benefiting over 200,000 students.


School: Beacon Park School
Recipients: Zareen Tarapore, William Berry, and Sarah Barnes
Project Video: The [BeAcon]nection Initiative

School: Cadence Park School
Recipients: Seanethon Martinez and Isaiah Olsen
Project Video: VEX Robotics

School: College Park Elementary School
Recipients: Meleah Shank and Meg Gwyn
Project Video: Campus Wide Calm Centers

Department: IUSD World Languages Department
Recipients: Emmi Kohout, Zucely Monterroso, Nicole LaPeer , Meg Kirby , Caroline Heavican , and Grace Maginn
Project Video: Free Voluntary Reading Program for World Languages

School: Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC)
Recipients: Vyvyan Bui, Martha Kelly, and Erin Ferguson
Project Video: Hear Me: AAC

School: Eastshore Elementary School
Recipients: Kara Rydman, Kimberly Holloway, Patrick Compton, and Zynab Hammoud
Project Video: Windows and Mirrors

Department: Educationally Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS)
Recipients: Sandra Ruiz and Christina Reyes
Project Video: Mobile Mindfulness Stations

School: Jeffrey Trail Middle School
Recipients: Cori Allen, Karly Shimamoto, Kate Leavey, and Kim Soliday
Project Video: Independent Living Skills / Part 2: Classroom VR Adventures

School: Lakeside Middle School
Recipients: Scott Sodorff, Adrienne Everett, Lauren Feng, Bridgett Mack, and Kelly Orosz
Project Video: Extraordinary Engineers for Exploration and Lakeside Agricultural Lab Expansion

School: Loma Ridge Elementary School
Recipients: Jenna Berumen, Kari Krumpholz, and Alexis Swanson
School Video: Cultivating Minds & Hearts

School: Meadow Park Elementary School
Recipients: Traci Fish, Kimi Yee, and Tim Pardo
Project Video: Promoting Innovation, Diversity, and Inclusion

School: Oak Creek Elementary School
Recipients: Cassie Steuart and Mandy Ferrell
Project Video: WISE Owls BELONG

School: Plaza Vista School
Recipient: Erica Turrell
Project Video: Let Our Voices Be Heard!

School: Portola High School
Recipients: Adrian Rangel-Sanchez, Desmond Stevens, and Kyle Traska
Project Video: Convert Music Classrooms into Recording Studios

School: Rancho San Joaquin Middle School
Recipients: Terence Ngo, Pam Lockliear, Paige Morris, Jamie Cooper, and Kimberly Snowden
Project Video: Launching and Connecting School Culture

School: Santiago Hills Elementary School
Recipients: Jessica Muncy and Kathryn Wilhelm
Project Video: Dream, Design, Develop

School: Sierra Vista Middle School
Recipient: Gloria Henderson
Project Video: Building Self-Esteem, Teamwork, and Communication Through Broadcasting

School: Springbrook Elementary School
Recipient: Kayla Davis
Project Video: 21st Century Technology; A Tool in Project Based Learning

School: Stonegate Elementary School
Recipient: Kristen Keegan
Project Video: Destination Innovation

School: University High School
Recipients: Ranae Bettger
Project Video: Better Together

School: Venado Middle School
Recipients: Karen Fisher and Luis Torres
Project Video: Can You Hear Me Now?

Department: IUSD Vision Department
Recipients: Gina Michell, Edwin Moos, Marissa Sherb, Gabriela Valencia, Karen Linnborn, and Alison Rainone
Project Video: Tactile Access Library

Department: IUSD Visual & Performing Arts (VAPA)
Recipients: Carmen Hauser and Kyle Traska
Project Video: GarageBand Peer-Tutor Recording Project

School: Westpark Elementary School
Recipient: Eva Wagner
Project Video: Real World Product Innovation

School: Woodbridge High School
Recipient: Daniel Pilchman
Project Video: WHS Makerspace: The Guitar Project