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Grants enable 10 teams of California educators to engage in professional development programs that invigorate personal commitments to teaching.

The Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation today announced that 10 teams of California teachers are recipients of the 2015 Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers (LIGHT) Awards. Launched last year, the LIGHT Awards recognizes creative, innovative, and passionate teachers looking to pursue high quality professional learning. The awarded teams each receive up to $30,000 over two years for projects which are tailored to the needs of their schools and communities and lead to more engaged teaching and students. The program also aims to foster community among its awardees.

Intrepid believes that teachers are in a unique position to know what types of projects will be most relevant and will lead to sustainable change within their classrooms, schools and beyond. With help from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Intrepid’s LIGHT Awards Program was designed to encourage teachers to grow as leaders and innovators. Following an open application process which produced more quality applications than could be funded, teams were selected based on demonstrated dedication to teaching, desire to grow as educators and innovative ideas.

“By investing in highly effective, engaged teachers, we believe that we can change the trajectories of students’ lives and even whole communities,” explained Karen Leshner, founder of Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation. “I am thrilled to support this impressive cohort of teachers as they embark on their self-directed projects over the next two years.”

The 2015 LIGHT Award recipients are teachers at the following schools:

  • Aragon High School, San Mateo, CA (in partnership with George Washington High School, San Francisco; Presidio Middle School, San Francisco and Lynbrook High School, San Jose)
  • ARISE High School, Oakland, CA
  • Castlemont High School, Oakland, CA (in partnership with Madison Park Business & Art Academy, Oakland and Fremont High School, Oakland)
  • East Union High School, Manteca, CA
  • Fremont High School, Oakland, CA
  • Kennedy Elementary School, Stockton, CA
  • Life Academy High School, Oakland, CA
  • Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland, CA
  • San Mateo High School, San Mateo, CA (in partnership with Capuchino High School, San Bruno and Harbor High School, Santa Cruz)
  • Think College Now, Oakland, CA

The awardees’ projects include creating multi-district teacher networks, developing academic content and curriculum, learning new project-based and blended learning techniques and researching methods for deepening student engagement.  The teachers will attend trainings and conferences, work with experts and coaches and establish professional learning communities.

Emiliano Sanchez, Principal at Fremont High School described, “This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us here…and will prove to be an excellent learning experience for this core group of teachers who are so passionate about helping students succeed.”

The application for the 2016 grant cycle will be available in the fall of 2015. Cohorts of teachers looking for support in their growth as professionals are encouraged to apply.

For more information about the LIGHT Awards please visit

About the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation

Intrepid Philanthropy is private family foundation which was created in 2008.  We seek 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.  Our geographic focus is mainly but not exclusively California.

For more information, please visit

About Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) is a nonprofit organization that currently advises on and manages more than $200 million in annual giving by individuals, families, corporations, and major foundations. Continuing the Rockefeller family’s legacy of thoughtful, effective philanthropy, RPA remains at the forefront of philanthropic growth and innovation, with a diverse team led by experienced grantmakers with significant depth of knowledge across the spectrum of issue areas. Founded in 2002, RPA has grown into one of the world’s largest philanthropic service organizations and, as a whole, has facilitated more than $3 billion in grantmaking to nearly 70 countries. RPA also serves as a fiscal sponsor for more than 25 projects, providing governance, management and operational infrastructure to support their charitable purposes. For more information, please visit

Important Dates

Early December 2020
2021 LOI notifications

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