Far Away from the Confines of the Classroom

 In Excursion Grant Program, teacher grants

by Anita Brown, Program Officer

“LEAD Elementary School has a high percentage of low-income families. If not for the extraordinary support of the Geballe Family who cares deeply to support these kinds of learning opportunities for families to experience a trip to the zoo with their children, it would be really challenging.” –Norma Ochoa, Parent Involvement Project Supervisor at LEAD Elementary

Funded by the Geballe family, PVF’s Excursion Grants program offers $1,000 grants for one-day classroom excursions to K-5th grade teachers in low-income public schools in Alameda, San Mateo, and San Francisco counties. The purpose of this program is to open new vistas to children. Here are some examples of projects we supported through this teacher resource grant program:


Tawnya Dudash, a librarian at San Francisco Community School, took her students on a field trip to Alcatraz. “Our time on the island was wonderful,” she said. “The top-notch audio-narrated tour was riveting for everyone, and allowed students to hear the actual voices of former prisoners and guards. The island is also a bird sanctuary, and we had several bird lovers among us, so we took the time to watch the nesting gulls, Canada geese, and cormorants. We also visited the beautiful gardens, which have been renovated to recreate the flowers cultivated there when the island was a prison. The whole experience was both educational and lots of fun – a truly special day for all of us. And we definitely could not have done it without your support! Our students could never have afforded the tickets. Thanks to you, they will have an experience they are sure to remember for years to come.”

At Aspire Monarch Academy, Jessica Lobl and other third grade teachers took their students to Tilden Park so that they could participate in the Native American Lifestyles program and visit the petting zoo. She said, “Our students were able to pet and feed farm animals, learn about the clothing and food of Native Americans, try to start a fire with nothing but a stick and their hands, walk through the woods, explore nature, discover lizards, snakes, and many insects, and overall have a wonderful day learning far away from the confines of the classroom…. I cannot thank you all, and especially the Geballe Family, enough for making this trip possible for our students and families.”


50 first grade students at Laurel Elementary in Oakland participated in the Ardenwood Guided Farm Program at Tilden Park. While grinding corn and feeding farm animals, “students learned firsthand about farm life in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Following the farm program students were able to ride a narrow-gauge train and view monarch butterflies.” Teacher Susan Varner said, “This field trip was an incredible opportunity for our students as well as the parent chaperones. For our largely low-income student community, this was an amazing and unforgettable experience.”

Elisa Darner, a kindergarten teacher at LEAD Elementary was able to take TK and Kindergarten students on a field trip to the San Francisco Zoo to learn about animals and their habitats. She reported, “The zoo was an amazing trip! It was a great experience for many of our students who have never seen animals in real life. They learned facts about the animals from the exhibit – one student reported to me that a giraffe’s tongue is 18 inches long! They also got to see animals they had never heard of, such as a snow leopard, anteater, and peccary. It was an awesome experience that helped our students to reinforce the learning process in the classroom, and it was so much fun for them!”

Funding for the Excursion Grant program is currently exhausted, but we expect renewed funding very soon!

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