Students Leaving A Mark At Bella Vista Park

 In grantmaking, non-profit, philanthropy, PVF News, teacher grants, Visiting Artist in the Classroom Program

by Cayman Bentley, Program and Communications Associate

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation administers our Visiting Artist in the Classroom Grant to TK-12 teachers working at low-income public schools in Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Contra Costa County. These grants go up to $500 and can be used to bring a visiting artist to a school to teach workshops, facilitate art projects, help students hone their creativity and more!

Last week, Bella Vista Park in Oakland, California, witnessed an explosion of creativity as fifth-grade students from the adjacent Bella Vista Elementary School took to the park’s community garden to leave their mark in vibrant hues and imaginative designs. Guided by the skilled hands of Ryoko Tokuho, an esteemed Oakland Trybe artist, and supported by dedicated teachers, this unique opportunity allowed the students to immerse themselves in the world of art while beautifying their community.

As the students gathered around the blank canvases, armed with brushes, they set out to turn the garden’s bland planter box walls into colorful mural pieces. From intricate sea creature shapes to abstract and imaginative shapes, each stroke carried with it a story, a message, and a piece of the students’ hearts.

Ryoko, with her expertise and passion for community engagement through art, guided the young artists through the creative process, encouraging them to explore their individual styles and express their unique perspectives. With her gentle guidance, the students learned not only the techniques of mural painting but also the power of collaboration and self-expression.


As the day progressed, the once bare walls of the community garden blossomed into vibrant tapestries, reflecting the rich tapestry of the Bella Vista community, which happens to be one of Oakland’s oldest neighborhoods. Smiles lit up faces, laughter filled the air, and a sense of pride permeated the atmosphere as the students admired their collective masterpiece.

This initiative not only provided a platform for artistic expression but also fostered a sense of ownership and belonging among the students. By actively participating in the creation of public art, they not only beautified their surroundings but also cultivated a deeper connection to their community.

The collaborative effort between Ryoko and the dedicated teachers of Bella Vista Elementary School exemplifies the transformative power of art in education. Beyond the strokes of paint and colorful imagery, this mural project served as a testament to the importance of nurturing creativity, fostering collaboration, and empowering young minds to make a positive impact on their world.


The purpose of the mural project is to help students feel as though their time at Bella Vista Elementary School meant something so when they bid their school farewell they will carry with them the invaluable lessons learned and memories created while leaving their mark on the Bella Vista community.

Visiting Artist in the Classroom Grants are still available for the 2023-2024 school year! For more information on eligibility and how to apply, click here!

Recent Posts