The James & Ursula Williams Family Fund Teacher Grants Program

The James & Ursula Williams Family Fund honors the legacy of persistence, dedication, & commitment of this loving couple & community activists from Vallejo, CA, through yearly teacher grants in the City of Vallejo.

As a born native of Vallejo, James was generationally admired for his enduring work ethic and was lovingly embraced for his dedication and support to family, friends, and community. Ursula’s self-motivation, persistence, and quest for excellence brought her professional recognition. As a community activist, she shared her leadership organizational skills as a member of community and political organizations who made positive contributions to the community.

In life, they created and took advantage of all opportunities presented to them. Both recognized the important role that education made in creating healthy, happy, and productive lives for themselves, their children, and their grandchildren. The Williams Family hopes to continue their legacy through The James & Ursula Williams Family Fund.

Funding is now available for the 2023-2024 school year.

Program Details


Grants are available to teachers at the following public schools in Vallejo City Unified School District: Vallejo High School, Highland Elementary, and Grace L. Patterson Elementary.

Each school is eligible for one grant per program offered, listed below.

Vallejo High School

  • Excursion, Arts, and Science Resource

Highland Elementary

  • Excursion, Arts, Math, Science Resource

Grace L. Patterson Elementary

  • Excursion, Arts, Math, Science Resource

Field Trip Grants: Grants of up to $1,000 are available to fund 1-day excursions; field trips should have an academic component that supplements your classroom curriculum. Funds can cover the cost of transportation, admission fees and food. Examples: California Academy of Science, the Zoo, Angel Island, etc. The purpose of this program is to bring learning outside of the classroom and provide hands-on experiences to students.

Arts Grants: Grants of up to $500 are available to enhance your classroom and after-school arts programs in music, theatre, dance, and visual arts. Examples: painting supplies, paying for a visiting artist to come to the classroom, etc.

Mathematics Grants: Grants of up to $500 are available to fund books, materials, software, and manipulatives. Examples: multiplication and division games, dice, addition boards, etc.

Science Grants: Grants of up to $500 will be awarded to teachers for hands-on materials to enhance their classroom science instruction, including earth sciences, life sciences, chemistry, physics, and any others. Examples: butterfly life cycle kits, dissection lab materials, microscopes, etc.


Send your application in as soon as it is ready – money is limited. Funding will be immediately available, if approved.

Email your application to


It’s easy! Simply scan and email Savannah Lira, Program Officer ( a description of your idea on school letterhead, including the following information:

  • Date and name of the grant program for which you are applying
  • School and district name, address, and telephone number
  • Teacher name, email address, and grade level
  • Description of your project; what will you do, how many students will benefit, how will it enhance your curriculum?
  • Total amount requested
  • Itemization of how the money will be spent (if more than the grant amount, how will the additional funds be raised?)
  • Applications must be signed by both the submitting teacher and the school principal

For questions, please contact us at (510) 645-1890 or

To donate by check:
Send your check donation made payable to Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, with “Williams Family Fund” in the check memo line, to:
Philanthropic Ventures Foundation
1222 Preservation Park Way
Oakland CA 94612-1201

PVF will provide donors with a tax receipt letter for donations of $250 or more.

To donate by stock or wire transfer:
Contact: Dawn Hawk, Chief Operating Officer, Philanthropic Ventures Foundation | 510-645-1890 |

To donate from a Donor Advised Fund:
Find Philanthropic Ventures Foundation in the list of nonprofits with your DAF host (Fidelity, Schwab, Vanguard, community foundation, etc.). PVF’s Tax ID number is 94-3136771. Add the further designation to support “Williams Family Fund”.


Ursula Bell Williams (1928 – 2016) and Louis (James) Charles Williams (1928 – 2011)


To read more information on James & Ursula click the button below.

James was the third of seven children born to Peter and Cleola Williams on January 8th, 1928 in Vallejo, California. In 1919, the Williams Family was one of the first Black American families to settle and prosper in the City of Vallejo. James attended McKinley Elementary, Vallejo Jr. High School, Vallejo Senior High School, and received his Associate of Arts Degree in Business at Vallejo Junior College.

He began a lifetime of hard work at the age of 9, when he and his older brother, Jasper, had one of the largest bi-daily newspaper routes in the City of Vallejo. James, learned the important values of family dedication, hard work, and land ownership from the work ethic handed down to him, by two generations of Black California farmers. In 1946, after graduating from high school, “Jim” had the distinction of becoming one of the first Black Americans to work for a privately owned retail business located in downtown Vallejo. After a distinguished 44-year career, he retired in 1989 as the General Buyer for Meyers’ Jewelers, a chain of jewelry stores located in Northern California.

He was active in the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Family Movement (CFM), and delivered Meal on Wheels for 10 years after his retirement. He was happily married to Ursula, “Bia”, for 62 years and was loved and respected by his children and grandchildren! He touched hundreds of lives during his 83 years as resident of Vallejo. He was honored by over 400 grateful family, friends, and community members, who attended his funeral services.

Ursula was the seventh and last child born to John and Margaret Bell, on December 2, 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana. As part of the “Great American Migration”, she traveled North by train with her mother and arrived in Vallejo, CA in 1943 at the age of fifteen. She graduated class of 1946 from Vallejo Senior High School where she met the love of her life, James Williams. She received her AA Degree from Vallejo Jr. College (now Solano Community College).

In 1949, Ursula’s first job was as a clerk typist at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. In 1954, while working full time, with 3 children ages 6 months, 2, and 4, she decided to enhance her education and pursue a career as a certified court reporter. She graduated from the Academy of Stenographic Art on June 21, 1958 as the first Black Female Certified Court Reporter in Solano County. After retiring as a court reporter, she began a second career in politics, working as Staff Assistant to State Senator John Dunlap, Congressmen Robert Leggett and Vic Fazio, and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. She served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in the early 1980’s.

She was active in the following community organizations: a member of the Highlighters Social Club, a volunteer docent at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, first Black member of Soroptimist International of Vallejo; on the Board of Directors of the Vallejo Girls Club and the Solano County Library; Lifetime Member of the NAACP, and President of the Solano County Catholic Social Service Auxiliary; she was a member of the National Council of Negro Women, Solano County Minority Coalition for Cancer Prevention, Vallejo Commission on Aging, Vallejo Special Committee for the Senior Citizen Center, and the Solano County Prevention of Abuse to Children. She was a Charter Member of the Solano County Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. As a community activist, she was awarded:

  • Humanitarian of the Year (1989, by the Navy City Elks in Vallejo)
  • Spirit of African Americans in Vallejo (1994, by American Savings Bank)
  • Women of Excellence (1994, Jack & Jill of America, (Oakland Bay Area Chapter)

Ursula was happily married to James, “Papa”, for 62 years and successfully raised and educated three children, Michelle, Kathleen, and Mark. She was an amazing example of a loving wife, mother, and friend to her children, grandchildren, and community members.