The Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation is pleased to announce eight projects have been selected as recipients of the Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers (LIGHT) Awards.  The project teams are comprised of 41 educators based in the Greater Bay Area, across multiple grade levels and subject areas.

Launched in 2014, the LIGHT Awards recognize creative and passionate teachers pursuing self-designed professional learning.  The program is designed to honor the influential role that educators play in our society, and to provide the funding and resources that help teachers thrive as professionals.  Awarded teams receive up to $30,000 over two years to fund a learning journey of their choice. 

Projects selected for the 2023-2025 cohort include:

  • Elementary school teachers diving into research about the power of playful learning, with the goal of incorporating more choice, wonder and delight into the classroom. The project uses a research lens to document the effects of play on student and staff well-being.  In their own words, “This project will build on this team’s passion for educating the whole child, and will return some of the joy to the teaching profession.”
  • Interdisciplinary high school teachers creating Project Based Learning resources to support the unique needs of newcomer students. They plan to design engaging, real-life projects that build on the newcomer students’ strengths and help to overcome the academic obstacles they face.  The team noted, “We are inspired by the potential of PBL to empower our students in engaging, real-life projects.”

Karen Leshner, founder of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, shared:

“I’m delighted to welcome this new group of educators into the LIGHT community.  I feel a special significance with this group, our tenth Cohort. Over the last decade, we’ve supported nearly 450 teachers in the Greater Bay Area in projects to enhance their skill as professionals.  I’m also grateful for the years of collective wisdom which Intrepid’s Advisors, thought partners, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors have contributed to this work. Their insight and guidance has been invaluable.  To the members of Cohort 10, it’s our hope that your projects will bring inspiration and positive energy to you, your students, and your communities.”

The 2023-2025 LIGHT Awards cohort consists of educators from the following eight schools:

  • Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School – San Francisco.
    Project title: “Engaging Diverse Youth through Strong Dual Immersion”
  • Birch Lane Elementary School and Patwin Elementary School – Davis.
    Project title: “Raising a Community of Writers.”
  • Martin Luther King Academy – Sausalito.
    Project title: “Using Science and Social Justice to Raise Teaching Practice”
  • El Cerrito High School – El Cerrito.
    Project title: “Project-based Geometry and the Trades”
  • Lazear Charter Academy – Oakland.
    Project title: “Building the Structures:  Effective and Lasting PBL.”
  • Maya Lin School, Wood Middle School, Island High School – Alameda.
    Project title: “Our Changing Planet: Community of Practice.”
  • William G. Paden Elementary School – Alameda.
    Project title: “The Power of Play.”
  • Sequoia High School – Redwood City.
    Project title: “PBL for Newcomers:  Language Development, Engagement and Empowerment”

Learn more about each project.

For further information about the LIGHT Awards, visit

For information about Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, visit