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Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on February 4th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 49 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 49

Audacious Foundation funds new projects in Lompoc, Guadalupe

By ZAC EZZONE

Since 2015, the Audacious Foundation has provided funding to schools throughout Santa Barbara County to pay for learning experiences that can’t be found in textbooks.


LEARNING TO RIDE
The Audacious Foundation funded a bicycle education program at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe, where nearly 300 students learned how to ride a bike.
PHOTO COURTESY OF AUDACIOUS FOUNDATION

The foundation started by partnering with five schools in South County, but it has since expanded to 12 schools countywide, including campuses in Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Guadalupe. Foundation Executive Director Catherine Brozowski said the organization focuses on programs that teach students about nature, healthy habits, and essential life skills.

“For a kid to be most successful, it’s not just the academics taught in school; there’s a lot more,” Brozowski said.

While emphasizing nature-based learning, the foundation has funded programs that take students to the beach or mountains and allow students to learn from what they encounter outdoors. On a field trip near Lake Cachuma, students visited an area where a fire took place to observe the difference between older plants and new life sprouting up through the previously scorched ground, Brozowski said.  

Recently the foundation funded a bicycle safety education program, led by the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe. Through this five-week program, nearly 300 students learned how to ride bicycles, and 10 students received refurbished bikes as gifts. The foundation is also funding an upgrade at the elementary school’s garden and the subsequent education that’ll take place there after the work is complete.

On Jan. 24, the foundation and the Lompoc Unified School District announced the opening of a new track and field at Hapgood Elementary School, which the foundation covered half the cost of with a nearly $80,000 grant. Brozowski said gophers infested the previous field and dug myriad holes, which created an uneven surface that posed an injury risk to students.

But not all of the foundation’s programs focus on recreation, Brozowski said. It also funds financial literacy classes and an orthodontia program that helps students acquire braces.

The foundation began working with Hapgood and Mary Buren elementary schools last July. Brozowski said the foundation is careful when selecting where it allocates its funding and looks for schools run by effective leaders who embrace incorporating nonacademic learning experiences into the curriculum. 

“When I first meet with them, we make them sign a commitment, and they commit to integrating the whole child education approach into their work,” Brozowski said.

The foundation has a list of about 25 programs it offers to every school, and Brozowski works with school leaders to decide which programs work for them. She said normally schools engage in 85 percent of the programs the foundation offers. 

Although it fluctuates, the foundation normally allocates about $200,000 to each school annually. Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea, who started the foundation, provides all of the organization’s funding. 

Brozowski said that whether it’s through swimming lessons or dance classes, these experiential, hands-on learning opportunities help students learn in a different way, while having fun.  

“It’s amazing to see the [students’] progression and what comes with that; their sense of confidence, their joy,” Brozowski said. 

Highlights

• Goodwill Industries of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is hosting the grand opening of a new youth center in Lompoc on Feb. 12. This is intended to be a safe space for youth who are part of a Goodwill program, which includes vocational and educational opportunities.

• The city of Lompoc is hosting a workshop from Feb. 18 through 20 that’s designed to help teens and young adults find jobs. The workshop will show attendees how to complete a job application and write a résumé while also providing interview tips and techniques. 

Reach Staff Writer Zac Ezzone at zezzone@santamariasun.com.








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