Developing the Language of Math through Dance with the Help of PVF’s Mathematics Grants

The following guest post written by Susan Hamada, a Pre-K Autism Teacher at Lyndale Elementary in San Jose, discusses how she used a Mathematics Resource Grant from PVF to teach math concepts through dance and movement.

Lyndale - Dance and MathI would like to take this opportunity to thank Philanthropic Ventures Foundation and The Heising-Simons Foundation for your wonderful support of the dance therapy program for the preschool autism children at Lyndale Elementary School. Dance is a powerful method for developing the language of math, in addition to helping children mature physically, emotionally, socially, and cognitively. Moving through patterns over time may help us fill in any missing gaps in our neurological development, making it an important tool for autistic children.

When we initially began the dance lessons, many of the children needed assistance to participate in the dance class. By the end of their sessions, the majority were able to follow the verbal directions and movements to participate on their own. Some of the parents came to observe the class. By the end of the class, they were joining in and dancing with their child.

The dance classes were held at the end of the year, so we were able to review and reinforce the math concepts covered throughout the year. We danced with scarves, ribbons and bean bags, which required the children to count and name the colors.  The children also practiced shapes by moving through an obstacle course.

My preschoolers derived numerous physical benefits from the use of movement as an educational tool, including body awareness, coordination, flexibility, and spatial awareness. Their cognitive skills were also enhanced through vocabulary-building, creativity, and problem-solving. Finally, they grew socially and emotionally through cooperation with others and a growing sense of self-esteem. The very functioning of the brain itself was enhanced through repetition of specific developmental movements. Movement truly fosters the development of the whole child: body, mind, and spirit.

The dance instructor wanted to give the other autism classes the experience of a dance class, so he volunteered to come back the next week to give an additional 30-minute dance class! Thanks to your generosity, 40 preschool and kindergarten autistic children experienced the joy of movement.

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Where’s James? Connecting the Dots at the Invention Hub

At the Invention Hub, radical collaboration and connecting the dots infuse the spirit of the space. I recently brought together a start up and a nonprofit in this spirit of collaboration.

Zozi, is a start up named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the 100 Most Brilliant Companies. Zozi helps you discover bite-sized adventures accessible to all kinds of people. For 28 years, Aim High has been closing the opportunity gap for under-resourced middle school youths in our communities with a free summer program.

Today, we sat around the same table to ponder the question: what if we could bring the amazing Zozi experiences to the wonderful Aim High youths to boost the summer program into the super-duper special sphere?

Zozi and Aim High

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Where’s Bill? Meeting with 30 Visiting Chinese Social Workers

Chinese VisitorsI helped plan the agenda for 30 visiting Chinese social workers from Guangzhou. The University Of California School of Social Welfare sponsored the visitors for a two-week visit which included lectures, on-site visits to see programs serving low-income people, and site seeing. I met with the group to explain the work of the foundation and gave each person an autographed copy of my book, Grassroots Giving, which is now available in Chinese. China is gearing up to create three million social workers.

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Where’s Bill? Expanding Career Options at Sequoia Adult School

by: Bill Somerville, President & CEO

I recently visited the Sequoia Adult School Scholars (SASS) program, which provides financial assistance to ESL students in the Sequoia District Adult School in order to help them expand their career options. Philanthropic Ventures Foundation provided a $10,000 grant to support SASS’s scholarship program.

Bill at SASS

Recipients of scholarships from Sequoia Adult School Scholars meet with donor Bill Somerville. All of these students completed the ESL program at Sequoia Adult School and now attend Canada College.

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Where’s James? On Air with Former US Senator Bill Bradley

For 40 years, former US Senator Bill Bradley has traveled arJames and Bill Bradleyound the United States listening to the stories Americans tell about their lives.  He was always moved, so he created a show on SiriusXM Radio called “American Voices” where you can hear some of these stories.

James and Bill Bradley 2

I was honored to be invited onto his national show to talk about the work of PVF to address the growing inequality gap in the Bay Area.  Stay tuned for a link to the interview when it becomes available.  Thank you Senator Bradley for giving a voice to a defining issue of our age.

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PVF Designated Fund, Terry’s Kids, Helps Youth Showcase Their Musical Talents

Terry's Kids

Terry’s Kids founder, Terry Miller (right), poses with Monty and his new saxophone.

Terry’s Kids, one of PVF’s designated funds, provides music educational clinics, concerts, and studio and live performance projects for kids of all ages.

Recently, Terry’s Kids helped a bright 17-year-old named Monty obtain a playable saxophone. Monty comes from a tough home situation, and he works odd jobs while in school to support his family. Despite his situation, he held a 4.0 grade average and is now on scholarship to Columbia University starting this fall.

As a saxophone player, his instrument was essentially unplayable, but it was all he could afford. By gathering donations, Terry’s Kids was able to provide him with a new Selmer Mark VI Tenor Saxophone. Now a dedicated young musician has a great instrument to showcase his talent!


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Bay Area Inspire Awards: 2014 Grantees

This year, we launched a new community initiative with a simple aim: to inspire innovative ideas for improving social equality and provide the financial support to help make these ideas a reality. The donors of the initiative believe in the power of young people to ignite change, and they wanted to give them the chance to make an impact in our community.

This initiative, called the Bay Area Inspire Awards, provided one-time cash awards of up to $10,000 to young people, ages 18-30, living and working in San Francisco or Alameda County. More than 75 local young people applied to implement a variety of community-oriented projects, and six ideas were chosen to come to fruition. Here are the winning ideas that have inspired us, and hopefully inspire you too:

AJ PhotoAJ Almaguer
Project: Community-Built Haunted House
Location: Hayward, CA

AJ’s project will provide young people, ages 13-18, with hands-on STEM experience by engineering exhibits that will culminate in a haunted house event for the community.


Chen photoKori Chen
Project: Expanding Employment for the Formerly Incarcerated
Location: Oakland, CA

Kori will conduct a 40-hour employment training program for 4-6 formerly incarcerated Alameda County residents and will also conduct outreach to 25 San Quentin prisoners about potential  employment opportunities.


Paul Monge-Rodriguea PhotoPaul Monge-Rodriguez
Project: Focus Group Feasibility Study for SF Parent University Program
Location: San Francisco, CA

Using his award, Paul will conduct a feasibility study for a San Francisco Parent University. When implemented, the University will help caregivers become better-prepared advocates and partners in their  children’s education.


H. Murchison PhotoHolley Murchison
Project: Oratory Glory Youth Communication Workshops
Location: Oakland, CA

Holley will use the award to pilot a public speaking training program that will serve at-risk transitional age youth from select San Francisco and Alameda County schools. The program is designed to provide enrichment programs to help youth thrive as leaders.


Megan_Winkelman_PhotoMegan Winkelman
Project: Mental Health Services Maps
Location: Berkeley, CA

Megan will use her award to create online, mobile, and printed maps of Bay Area mental health services which include public transportation routes. These maps are designed to educate under-served populations that lack access to mental health.


Christian PhotoChristian Martinez
Project: Using Home Visits to Build Trusting Relationships Between Teachers, Students and Families
Location: Oakland, CA

Christian will use his award to organize teacher home visits to the families of 6th grade students at a middle school in Oakland as a way to build family-school trust and understanding.

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