After 10 years, our Special Education Resource Grants remain in high demand by the educators working with moderately to severely disabled students. 2013-2014 funding became available in early October and was exhausted the next month, which speaks to the vast need for additional resources in special education classrooms. For this round of funding, we awarded $90,000 in grants to 185 classrooms in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano Counties. Funding each year is made possible by the Thomas J. Long Foundation. The grants fund a variety of fundamental needs, such as sensory regulation tools, iPads, parent education workshops, and professional development. The funding requests we received this year were compelling, as seen in the following examples:
“I have seen the power of music to motivate students to act. Music has served to be therapeutic for students struggling with anxiety. We are asking for a grant to be used for musical instruments specifically chosen to fit our students’ needs. Many of our students come to life when able to express themselves kinesthetically and though voice. The use of these musical instruments would serve as not only therapy, but also as a new avenue for students to use energy in a positive way.” – A middle school special day teacher in Castro Valley serving students with moderate disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, and vision and hearing challenges.
“For children with autism, school can be a busy, loud and confusing place – even in classrooms designed to help students with autism. Many students in our class are impacted with neurological sensory processing and integration deficits. These sensory challenges affect our students’ abilities to learn, to take in information and, most significantly, to make sense of the surrounding environment. A grant from PVF would be used to purchase equipment especially designed to provide sensory experience that these children need to be calm, focused, and ready to learn.” – a K-2 special education teacher in Alameda serving students with autism.
These dedicated teachers always report back to us to depict the importance of the program:
“Since budget cuts have diminished our funds, resources like the Special Education Grant have been like a wish come true for those of us working in the public schools. The materials I have purchased with the money will help to provide an enriching experience with the youth that I work with on a daily basis.” – Speech Language Pathologist at Southgate Elementary in Hayward
“The Special Education Resource Grants Program has truly been a blessing. Your program has made it easy for teachers and therapists to request equipment and materials to use with students almost immediately!” – Adapted Physical Education Specialist with the West Contra Costa Unified School District
“The students in my classroom are non-verbal and severely physically and mentally challenged, and they require a lot of support. The sensory adaptation tools we purchased with the grant money allow them to be more independent and more able to express themselves. Thank you for allowing us to have the funds to improve their experiences in school.” – Special Day teacher at Hirsch Elementary in Fremont
Feedback like this inspires us. While small in size, the Special Education Grants create a lasting impact for countless students who are building important skills using these new resources.