September 18, 2014 – San Diego, CA – The San Diego Foundation Teachers’ Fund awarded 63 teachers across 16 San Diego County School Districts a total of $50,748 in grants that helped strengthen more than 4,000 students’ ties to the community and provided unique opportunities for learning this year.

The grants benefitted K-12 teachers who focus on various areas of curriculum, including visual and performing arts, science, technology and language arts. Since 1995, the Teachers’ Fund has granted more than $1 million to more than 1,000 deserving teachers region wide. Since its inception, more than 32,000 students have been directly impacted by the program, which helps improve teaching effectiveness and increase student engagement through innovative classroom lessons and real-world projects.

“Students who become engaged in the community learn more effectively, feel more empowered and become better citizens,” said Kara Quinlan, 9th grade physics teacher at High Tech High Chula Vista. “As teachers, we can only bring so much into the classroom that stimulates the students and foments excitement about learning. Being able to see, touch, smell, hear and taste gives a valuable perspective on the lesson – which is exactly what the extra funding from The San Diego Foundation allowed me to provide.”

After giving classroom instruction on physics, engineering and robotics, Quinlan took students to SeaBotix, a local leading manufacturer of underwater robots. From there, through a program with the U.S. Navy, her 9th graders actually built their own underwater remotely operated robotic vehicles (UROV) and competed in a nationally recognized underwater obstacle course. The students also worked with Living Coast Discovery Center to use their robots to conduct research on coastal health.

By designing, building and programming UROVs, students used science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills in a collaborative hands-on setting that reinforced their learning. It also provided a real-world connection to STEM careers.

As Quinlan explained, “many students didn’t know they had the skills to build a working robot that could conduct valuable research. Now students are excited to go into engineering and want to work with marine biology and robotics as a direct result of the project.” She also noted that, “many of my students don’t have a computer or access to the internet at home, so it’s my duty to expose them to STEM in the classroom and open their minds to possibilities they did not know existed, ignite curiosity and make them think about STEM fields as career options.”

The Teachers’ Fund has also enabled many teachers to leverage their projects into long-term community collaborations, resulting in even greater impact. For example, Ruth Maas, teacher at Cajon Valley Middle School, received a $1,000 grant from The San Diego Foundation to teach students information technology, communications, leadership and problem solving skills using the MOUSE Squad of California curriculum. The students then managed the school’s Student Technology Help Desk, assisting teachers and students with daily technical issues, maintaining technology equipment and finding solutions to technical problems. Community members were also invited to the school on a monthly basis for technical assistance.

The students’ work greatly accelerated technology advancements at the school, leading to school district leaders’ recognition of the program and interest in expanding it district-wide and the school receiving a Classroom of the Future Foundation grant award of $5,000.

“The MOUSE Squad was like a launching pad that got our students interested in many occupational fields of computer programming,” Mass shared. “The best benefit from this program was building the students’ confidence as technology leaders.”

The San Diego Foundation will accept Teachers’ Fund applications for the 2014 – 2015 school year beginning Wednesday, September 17 through Wednesday, October 22, 2014. San Diego County public school teachers interested in applying and individuals interested in donating should visit

About The San Diego Foundation
Founded in 1975, The San Diego Foundation’s purpose is to promote and increase effective and responsible charitable giving. The Foundation manages more than $665 million in assets, $400 million of which resides in permanent endowment funds that extend the impact of today’s gifts to future generations. Since its inception, The Foundation has granted more than $887 million to the San Diego region’s nonprofit community. For additional information, please visit The San Diego Foundation at

Vince Heald, Beck Ellman Heald, 858-453-9600,
Heather Back, The San Diego Foundation, 619-235-2300,