From the onset of COVID-19, the Pasadena Community Foundation (PCF) swiftly moved to support and uplift the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF) and the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), providing generous contributions, assistance in repurposing several current grants, and encouragement in our goals to further learning, health, and safety during the ongoing pandemic.
Since March, PEF has been able to use PCF’s COVID-19 Response Fund in three essential ways. First, to support PUSD’s homeless students and families by providing funds to Families in Transition for food and supply distribution. Second, to create and purchase personal protective equipment for the district’s staff as well as our incredible volunteers distributing meals, including the face shield produced on PUSD’s 3D printers, plastic shields, and even quick-read thermometers for PUSD nurses when students return. And third, to support low-income students with disabilities who are also English learners, of which we have a population of about 500 students. Bilingual Special Education staff are reaching out to families of these students, many of whom are struggling with remote learning, to provide ongoing support and resources.
PCF championed PEF’s plan to modify the second year of a three-year education grant, which normally supports the summer introduction to first grade classes, particularly at Madison Elementary School. The result? This year, the grant was instead able to be repurposed to meet the needs of the moment, and has already been used to distribute learning kits this past summer. Even now, the grant continues to fortify learning during this 2020-21 school year, helping to pay teachers at Madison to tutor young students who have experienced learning loss due to COVID-19.
Alongside the trustees of the Rowe and Gayle Giesen Trust, PCF facilitated the redirection of the 2020 Giesen Trust grant, which has supported a visual artist-in-residence in elementary schools for the past several years. This year, PUSD Arts & Enrichment was able to use the grant in a new way: to hire theater artist Jessica Winward to develop curriculum and reinforce students’ engagement in PUSD teachers’ remote classes. Until schools closed in March, Ms. Winward had been working as an artist-in-residence in PUSD middle and high schools and as a teaching artist for local theaters. This position not only bolstered continuity for PUSD Arts, but also helped us provide a source of income to one of our brilliant artists-in-residence.
All of this relief and support—for our most vulnerable students and families, teachers, and staff—during this critical time, was made possible by PCF. From the bottom of all our hearts, thank you!
Brianna Chu | Digital Storyteller
Brianna Chu was born and raised in Pasadena, California, only leaving her hometown to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where she earned her Master of Arts degree in International Relations and Psychology. Upon returning to the States, she began sharing stories of local restauranteurs and their food for the Pasadena Independent. She now also holds the role of Digital Storyteller for the Pasadena Educational Foundation.