Grants enable educators from five California schools to engage in professional development programs that reinvigorate personal commitments to teaching.

The Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers (LIGHT) Awards, a program of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, today honors five teams of teachers with grants that support and engage California teachers through professional development. With help from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Intrepid’s LIGHT Awards Program was designed to encourage great educators to grow, develop and be creative within the teaching profession. The five inaugural grantee teams each receive $30,000 over two years for self-selected development programs that lead to more engaged classrooms and schools.

The LIGHT Awards recognize creative, innovative and passionate teachers. The five teams were selected for their dedication to teaching and desire to grow as educators. Each teacher is a leader within his or her respective school and community. Furthermore, each grantee will impact students by helping to create environments in which teachers and students can flourish.

Intrepid believes that teachers are in a unique position to know what types of new projects will be most relevant to their schools and will lead to sustainable change within their classrooms and schools. The grants provide talented educators with the chance to reenergize their teaching careers by pursuing high quality professional training.

“Educators are the most important part of the American workforce – our LIGHT Awards recipients will impact hundreds of students over the next two years. We are proud to invest in great teachers, providing the ’R&D’ funding to transform classrooms, schools, and even districts throughout the state of California,” said Karen Leshner, founder of Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation.

The 2014 winning grantees schools are:  Lakewood Elementary in Sunnyvale, CA; Costan͂o School in East Palo Alto, CA; Overfelt High School in San Jose, CA; Mountain View High School in Mountain View, CA; and a group of high schools in the Santa Clara Unified and East Side Union School Districts.  The projects include:

  • Seeking to improve Advanced Placement (AP) test scores school-wide by training more teachers and establishing a pre-AP preparation program for students
  • Developing literacy expertise and peer coaching skills
  • Learning how to better teach writing for students and colleagues
  • Fostering professional learning communities to share best practices and offer support while implementing the Common Core State Standards
  • Enhancing the skills of high school Computer Science teachers, allowing them to teach a new AP course

“Our teachers aim to provide the best education possible for our students. Through their LIGHT Awards project, they will learn new strategies that they can share with all of our teachers to enrich our classrooms and support our students,” shared Gina Sudaria, principal of Costaño School and the 49erAcademy. “I’m proud that our team of teachers is being recognized for their innovation, creativity and dedication to their profession.”

The application for the 2015 grant cycle will be available in the fall of 2014. Groups of teachers looking for support in their growth as professionals are encouraged to apply.

For more information about the LIGHT Awards and the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, please visit

About Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation

The Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation is a private family foundation that seeks to improve the U.S. educational system in order to provide opportunities for all students, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, to be productive members of their communities. Our geographic focus is mainly, but not exclusively, California. Our mission is to support and promote programs that work to close the achievement gap by honoring and supporting teachers, enhancing the environment in which they work and enriching the physical, cultural, academic and social well-being of students. 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

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Elana Rueven | 212.784.5723 |

Important Dates

Early December 2020
2021 LOI notifications

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