LIGHT: Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers
We Attract and Keep Great People in Teaching.
The LIGHT Awards are a program of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, a private family foundation that seeks to improve the U.S. educational system in order to provide opportunities for all students to be productive members of their communities. We aim to impact student achievement by identifying, recruiting, mentoring and recognizing superior teaching, and helping to create environments in which teachers and students can flourish.
Karen Leshner, Founder of Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, the sponsor of the LIGHT Awards program explains the program this way:
- WE BELIEVE that teachers are the most valued members of the American workforce. We want to make sure that great people go into the career of teaching and stay in the career.
- WE BELIEVE that highly effective, engaged teachers are the most important factor in a student’s academic experience and success;
- WE BELIEVE that teachers are in a unique position to know what type of professional development will be most meaningful for their classrooms, students and schools;
- WE BELIEVE that cohorts of teachers learning together can more quickly and effectively instigate sustainable change within their classrooms, schools and districts than individual teachers;
- WE BELIEVE that teachers will gain more from professional development opportunities if they can choose to participate in those experiences about which they are excited; and,
- WE BELIEVE there is tremendous leverage in education. Over their career, one outstanding teacher can impact hundreds of students.
We’re not new at this.
We’ve been long-time funders of many organizations that support and encourage teachers, including Teach for America, the New Teacher Center, the Krause Center for Innovation and the Teachers College of San Joaquin.
We’ve also supplemented PacTIN (Pacific Coast Teacher Innovation Network) grants to Ponderosa Elementary School in Santa Clara, CA. This successful endeavor has become the blueprint for the LIGHT Awards program.
In 2012, we first convened a group of experienced educators to help structure and design the LIGHT Awards program. These advisors remain active in guiding the program.
In 2014, we accepted pilot applications for five projects which were funded for two years. Our 2015 and 2016 cohorts were selected from an open Bay Area call for applications, which takes place each fall. In total, we have supported the professional development of over 130 Bay Area teachers as part of 26 funded projects, and we look forward to building a community of LIGHT Awardees over the coming years.