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. We believe that highly effective, engaged teachers are the most important factor in a student’s academic experience and success. We seek to honor and invest in superior educators and school leaders. 

Karen Leshner, Founder of Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, the sponsor of the LIGHT Awards program explains the program this way:

Teachers Matter.

  • WE BELIEVE that teachers are the most valuable 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.

Learn about the Ponderosa 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.

Meet our Leadership

In 2014, we accepted pilot applications for five projects which were funded for two years. Since then, each cohort has been selected from an open Bay Area call for applications, which takes place each fall. In total, we have supported the professional development of over 180 Bay Area teachers as part of 37 funded projects, and we look forward to building a community of LIGHT Awardees over the coming years.

Learn about the Projects We’ve Funded 

Important Dates

Oct 16, 2018 2019 Application cycle opens
Nov 16, 2018 Application cycle closes;
last day to submit Letters of Intent
Dec 2018 Informational Webinar
Jan 10, 2019 Application deadline

Keep In Touch

Sign up for occasional email updates from the LIGHT Awards program. We’ll let you know about approaching deadlines, provide application tips, and share what our grantees are doing.

Copyright ©Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation. All rights reserved. LIGHT Awards is a program of Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, San Francisco, CA. Contact us at or use our contact form.
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