Napa Valley Vintners grant $2.8 million for children’s education

September 13, 2016
Napa Valley Register

The Napa Valley Vintners has again provided millions of dollars in support for programs and nonprofits helping children succeed inside and outside the classroom.

About $2.8 million from this year’s Auction Napa Valley will be distributed through grants to 10 local organizations, plus the Vintners’ own Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative (NVELI).

Last year, the Vintners provided $3 million in grants to aid children and teens.

The NVELI, which was established four years ago to help close the educational achievement gap for preschool Hispanic children learning English, will receive another $800,000 this year. The Vintners have invested $3.8 million to date in this initiative.

The next largest grant awarded this year, $500,000, will go to NapaLearns.

Started in 2010 to help expand the New Tech High model to other schools, NapaLearns will use the $500,000 in their continuing efforts to help transition 11 Napa Valley Unified School District campuses to become New Tech schools.

The 11 schools include all five schools in American Canyon: Napa Junction Elementary, Donaldson Way Elementary, Canyon Oaks Elementary, American Canyon Middle School and American Canyon High School.

The other six schools are Yountville Elementary, Phillips Charter Elementary, Napa High, and Silverado, Redwood and River Charter middle schools.

Peg Maddocks, NapaLearns’ executive director, said the New Tech model provides students in these schools with the chance to do collaborative projects for 3-6 weeks instead of spending that time listening to the usual lectures and taking tests.

“They do research to answer interesting questions, then create presentations, videos or other kinds of products to show what they’ve learned,” said Maddocks.

NapaLearns is also supporting teacher training, planning sessions to create projects and coaches who help teachers “go through the difficult process of changing how they teach,” according to Maddocks.

“The generous funding from the Napa Valley Vintners helps NapaLearns support professional development for hundreds of teachers as they transform learning from old world lectures and worksheets to engaging 21st century project-based learning for thousands of students every day,” she said.

The other nine nonprofit organizations receiving grants are: Aim High; Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay; Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa and American Canyon; Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga; Child Start; Community Resources for Children; Napa CASA; On the Move; and Summer Search.

Combined funding from the Vintners for local Boys & Girls Clubs will total $500,000, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley getting $300,000 and the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga receiving $200,000.

Local law enforcement has credited Boys and Girls Clubs with helping keep youths out of trouble when they’re not in school.

“One of the best ways to prevent youth from entering the criminal justice system is to assure that they have positive activities and friends,” said Mary Butler, chief probation officer for Napa County, in a Vintners press release announcing the funding grants. “Napa County is fortunate to have a variety of programs youth can participate in, such as our Boys & Girls Clubs, while learning to make good life choices.”

Butler said, “Studies show most juvenile crime occurs during the hours of 3 and 7 p.m. Providing youth activities during those hours helps reduce juvenile crime and assures safer communities.”

For the second year in a row, the Vintners will help fund Aim High’s free summer program for low-income middle school students from Napa and American Canyon. Aim High will receive $75,000 this year, following last year’s funding of $60,000.

 Alec Lee, Aim High’s executive director, said their inaugural summer program at Silverado Middle School was “tremendous,” and credited the Vintners for helping make it happen.

Lee said Aim High intends to offer the program again in summer 2017.

The remaining Vintner grants will go to:

— On the Move ($325,000), which has launched numerous youth-led projects intended to close the educational achievement gap and promote health and wellness across Napa County.

— Community Resources for Children ($185,000), dedicated to early care and education of Napa County children.

— Child Start Inc. ($170,000), operator of local Head Start and Raising a Reader programs geared toward the educational, social and emotional development of children from birth to 5 years of age.

— Summer Search North Bay ($150,000), provider of mentoring, summer programs, college advising and other support to low-income high school students.

— Big Brothers Big Sisters ($60,000), provider of professionally supported mentors to children in need to help stem violence, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency.

— Napa CASA, A Voice for Children ($60,000), which protects children who have become dependents of the courts due to abuse, neglect or molestation by their parents or caretakers.