When the Chumash Foundation was looking for a beneficiary for its 2015 Charity Golf Classic, the organization’s team saw a need for funding to upgrade technology resources in Santa Ynez Valley schools and classrooms.
“Technology is ever-present in our world, and we realize that teachers and administrators are expected to educate without vital resources they need,” foundation Director Teresa Sat said.
The tournament raised about $113,000 for technology purchases at four schools in the Santa Ynez Valley. The donation received such a positive response from the community that the foundation made it a permanent fixture in its programs. Now known as the Technology in Schools Program grant, it continues to help schools across Santa Barbara County meet their technology needs, Sat said.
“The tournament’s grown; we are now up to a three-day tournament because there was such a response to play in the tournament and either sponsor or host a team in the tournament,” she said. “A portion of that helps fund the Technology and Schools Program.”
The Technology in Schools grant is open to new applications until April 30. Schools, individual classrooms, or districts can apply for funding from the foundation to help purchase new equipment or upgrade infrastructure to help better the learning environment. The foundation can donate to a variety of schools, depending on the amount of money that comes in from the golf tournament and the cost of each project, Sat said.
A project proposal will require a summary of the school’s history; students’ socioeconomic and demographic information; and current programs and activities, Sat said, adding that the applicants also need to include an explanation on how this funding will address their needs.
“We do require project budget estimates if they are purchasing equipment or sometimes its estimates for infrastructure. We also ask [them to] provide a support letter from the school site principal or superintendent, and we have a sample and guidelines listed in our website,” she said.
On average, the Technology in Schools grants provided about $30,000 to $60,000 per year after its first year, but the foundation saw an increase to $100,000 during the pandemic because of a major jump in online learning, Sat said.
“Some schools are going one-to-one—every student has a laptop or an iPad. That’s the shift we’ve seen in general, but during COVID we saw a spike in that need, and we were able to meet that need with the increased grant dollars that year,” she said. “We did a special remote learning grant, and we were able to donate to 11 schools.”
Equipment like computers, iPads, and charging carts are some of the biggest and most common needs Sat said she’s seen in applications throughout the grant’s lifespan.
“I think that technology is always changing and improving. Having to replace outdated equipment and software, I think it’s hard for schools to keep up with that,” she said.
The program’s most recent 2022-23 school year grant recipients were the College School District in Santa Ynez, which received more than $7,000 to purchase a library software system and safety radio equipment; Cuyama Elementary School, which was awarded $15,000 to purchase 24 computers; Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, receiving $15,000 to upgrade its cable infrastructure to improve internet access; and Santa Maria’s Delta High School received more than $9,000 to purchase robotics and software for its robotics program.
Sat said the foundation was able to visit Delta High School to see its robotics program in person and take some photos with students and faculty.
“When we can deliver equipment, it’s special to see the students that were impacted and see the end result of that, and see what these dollars are going toward,” she said. “It’s always special when we can visit the school site or interact with the classrooms or programs to see the impact.”
Schools can expect to hear back from the foundation sometime in July. Find more information about the grant and submit applications at santaynezchumash.org/foundation.
• CommUnify announced a new Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) for community members who are struggling financially following the pandemic and unable to afford their water bills. LIHWAP is limited to households receiving services from participating water and wastewater districts, and all applications must be received prior to the deadline at the end of July 2023 to receive the payment of assistance benefits. CommUnify is the only organization in Santa Barbara County to provide this payment assistance. Visit 211santabarbaracounty.org to find out more information about the program and see a list of providers. Call 211 to complete a screening to see if you qualify.
Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. Reach her at [email protected].