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East Palo Alto Kids Foundation: Providing the underserved with opportunity via microgrants


Courtesy of East Palo Alto Kids Foundation
Students at Brentwood Elementary School in East Palo Alto benefit from East Palo Alto Kids Foundation grants given to teachers for supplies.

• Mission: The East Palo Alto Kids Foundation (EPAK) promotes educational opportunities and academic success for disadvantaged students by awarding microgrants to Ravenswood City School District teachers in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park.

Twice a year, in the spring and fall, educators at 13 designated schools may apply for $600 grants to fund field trips, library books and tools spanning everything from math and science puzzles to interactive white boards. New teachers also may apply for one-time, $250 grants to purchase items for establishing their classrooms.

“It’s so simple: We exist to help teachers help their kids, their classroom kids,” said Karen Ross, EPAK president.

In addition to traditional classroom teachers of preschool through 12th grade, special education, reading intervention, health and wellness and makerspace teachers, as well as school librarians, speech therapists and occupational therapists, may apply for and receive grants.

• 2019 update: A continuing EPAK goal is making more teachers aware of grant opportunities and encouraging them to apply. To that end, the nonprofit’s leadership is working to update its website so that the application and post-project reporting processes are more streamlined.

“It’s being designed to be as easy as possible for the teachers to apply, realizing that they have really hectic lives in teaching,” Ross said.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: The Town Crier Holiday Fund helps EPAK continue to keep expenses low so that more money can go directly to benefiting students. Currently, EPAK’s expenses amount to approximately 7% of what the nonprofit organization brings in each year, according to Ross.

“One board member described EPAK as a grassroots organization,” she said. “We just feel so strongly that we want to reach out to the teachers in the schools we serve and then help them make the education that they’re giving their classroom kids the very best that it can be.”

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation

Location: East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park

Founded: 1993

Annual budget: $350,000

Staff: 10-member board, a president and secretary

Information: epak.org

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