February 25, 2020

Each year, Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) offers teachers and staff in the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) the opportunity to apply for funds through the Innovative Grants Program to implement new and creative approaches to teaching and counseling. The purpose of this grant program is to support innovation in schools by awarding funds to launch new curriculum and improve the educational experiences of students. The program in total will award 29 projects and over $200,000 in grant monies this year to support innovative teaching methods in schools.

This year, IPSF awarded eight mega grants, up to $20,000 each, to provide educators an opportunity to create an even greater impact on their schools and classrooms through innovation. Projects awarded included innovation labs, esports technology, 3D printers, musical instruments, and flexible furniture.

“In order to prepare our students for the future, we must provide them with educational opportunities that give them hands-on experiences and skills that they can apply to real world applications,” explains Neda Eaton, President & CEO of Irvine Public Schools Foundation. “We are proud to support IUSD instructors who are passionate about elevating student learning far beyond standard academic curriculum. We are also thankful to our community and sponsors who help make these grants possible for our students.”

Funding for the Innovative Grants Program comes from corporate partner donations from Google Fiber and parent support of another IPSF program, Parents Appreciating Teachers and Staff (PATS). Parents can purchase a certificate of appreciation to recognize the IUSD teachers and staff that make a difference in their child’s education. PATS is going on now through April 20 at www.ipsf.net/PATS, and all proceeds help fund innovation grants for teachers.

Since 1996, IPSF has awarded over $2 million to teachers and counselors, benefiting over 200,000 students since the program’s inception. 

Click for: Full list of 2020 grant recipients

School: Eastshore Elementary School
Recipients: Kelly Duncan
Name of Grant: Embedding Robotics to Promote Enrichment and Engagement
Program Summary:
Provides Ozobots Evo Classroom Kits and Blue-Bots to students in grades K-6 to teach fundamental concepts of coding and robotics. Funds will also allow teaching staff to expand their robotics curriculum.

School: Northwood Elementary School
Recipients: Lacey Aguilar, Liz Kovacic, & Danielle Nunes
Name of Grant: Innovation for All – Big and Small
Program Summary: Provides a space for students in grades TK-6th grade to explore technology and STEAM activities on a weekly basis.

School: Oak Creek Elementary School
Recipients: Kerry Rubel
Name of Grant: Dream BIG with Rigamajig – Build, Innovate, Grow!
Program Summary: Using Rigamajig Basic Builder Kits, students will have the opportunity to learn various science and engineering concepts through designing and experimenting. Students will explore their creativity through free play and guided design challenges. This grant is funded by IPSF in partnership with Google Fiber.

School: Portola High School
Recipients: Anthony Pham
Name of Grant: Preparing Student-Athletes for the Next Competition: Esports
Name of Grant: Provides students the opportunity to explore the world of competitive gaming and develop skills in communication, collaboration, and teamwork. Funds will provide professional-level equipment to enable instruction, competition, and student practice. This grant is funded by IPSF in partnership with Google Fiber.

School: Sierra Vista Middle School
Recipients: James Kang & Henry Miller
Name of Grant: Percussion Ensemble
Program Summary: Provides the equipment necessary to offer a percussion ensemble class, allowing student percussionists a tailored music learning experience.

School: Venado Middle School
Recipients: Karen Fisher
Name of Grant: De-stress for Success
Program Summary: Through the addition of flexible furniture, will transform their library/media center to foster group collaboration, student discussion, and deeper application of course content.

School: Woodbridge High School
Recipients: Daniel Pilchman
Name of Grant: High School Makerspace and Innovation Lab
Program Summary: Creates a makerspace for students to engage with technology and teach technical skills valued in the workplace such as 3D printing, CNC milling, and laser cutting.

School: IUSD STEM Department
Recipients: Chris Weber
Name of Grant: STAR Lab Equipment
Program Summary: Provides all elementary and middle school students a star lab projector to learn about astronomy and earth sciences.