Our Grants to the Schools

As a community-driven organization, MBEF strives to ensure our grants are reflective of parent and teacher priorities. We welcome feedback and regularly survey our stakeholders to help determine our strategic direction and funding priorities. To determine the grants for the 2017/18 school year, MBEF’s 35-member Board of Directors worked with the District leadership and school Principals to identify programs that are most aligned with parent priorities and MBEF Grant Guidelines.


MBEF strives to invest in programs that support the following:

  • Academic excellence and personal growth
  • Programs that reach as many students as possible
  • Parity among all elementary schools
  • Programs with a K-12 perspective
  • Innovation in teaching and learning
  • Programs that align with the priorities of parents, teachers, and District goals

Community Priorities

Multiple measures are taken to ensure that our grants meet community priorities.

  • Parents: Survey every other year (34% response rate); feedback requests once a year; feedback throughout the year; and 8 parents representing all seven schools serve on the MBEF Grant Committee.
  • MBUSD Administration: Regular meetings with Superintendent and MBEF and Endowment Board Presidents; two Grant Committee meetings with the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Education Services; regular conversations with Principals, School Board members; and the MBEF President and Executive Director participate in annual meetings with each principal independently.
  • Teachers: Survey every other year (75% response rate), in addition, this year we invited teachers to participate in an “MBEF Teacher Focus Group”.

The purpose of MBEF is to fund and advocate for enrichment programming, and to ensure that the funds we are granting are appropriately and effectively used. Like all other foundations, we are not involved in personnel relations, hiring, or management of District employees. We do not make any decisions on the ways in which programs are implemented or the curriculum that the District uses. This is important because it strengthens our voice so that we advocate for programming for all students. In addition, this separation helps to maintain the autonomy of the District/School Board and ensures that no individual parents’ voice is louder than others.

THE 2017/18 GRANTS
Below are shifts in MBEF funding that you will observe across the District. These changes represent a reallocation of last year’s grants and are not associated with new funding. Some shifts respond directly to the priorities identified in our surveys, and other shifts are efforts to make existing programs and grants more effective and sustainable.

New Shifts in Funding for the 2017/18 School Year

  • Common Sense Media 3-8 Focus
  • $60K increase for Music
  • Assistant Principal K-5
  • MBMS Empathy and Inclusion
  • MakerSpace K-5
  • Start-up Violin Cost for Elementary Music “Wheel” Program
  • Summer Counselor Training and Working Sessions
  • Strengthening MCHS Math


Common Sense Media: MBEF will fund Common Sense Media to provide parent educational sessions on best practices in internet safety, media literacy and screen time management, particularly for grades 3-8.

Data Evaluation and Program Assessment: How well do our programs work? What shifts could we make in math, counseling and writing to strengthen our academic outcomes? The Director of Data, Assessment and Professional Development gives our District and MBEF the capacity to assess our programs, provides our educators with the data they need for improvements, and supports our ability to make strategic data-backed funding decisions.

Math Professional Development: Our District has received feedback from teachers and parents on the efficacy of the math professional development program during the transition to Common Core. This grant helps continue the work we have done over the past three years by connecting our District with Teacher-Leaders who provide best practices and coaching for teachers. All math teachers will benefit from professional development from Stanford University, UC Irvine and UCLA throughout the year.

Music: Music, math and science achievement go hand in hand. MBEF funds 48% of music instruction K-12, and as a result, the music program at MBUSD has experienced phenomenal growth and success. All students in grades 1-5 receive weekly music instruction, which forms the foundation for our award-winning middle and high school programs. The opportunity to discover music at a young age may help a student discover a passion or talent, and has been proven to strengthen language development, increase IQ, improve spatial temporal skills and nurture responsibility and teamwork.

Our elementary music program has been significantly impacted with extremely large class sizes (60+ students), and our choir teacher serves more than 900 students a week. Additionally, there is growing concern about having students select between strings, band, or vocal music in 3rd grade without adequate exposure to each discipline. By funding a 50% certificated teacher for grades 1 and 2, we are able to improve student-to-teacher ratios in the music program as well as implement a “wheel” option for grade 3 to help expose students to each discipline. Going forward, third graders will have an opportunity to try the violin, recorder and choir, to make a more informed decision in grade 4.

Social Inclusion Grants: MBEF is pleased to continue funding programs that will inspire change and nurture a productive and honest dialogue in our schools, through the Social Inclusion Grants for the 2017/18 school year. Originally initiated by Malissia and Ron Clinton in 2015, the Social Inclusion Grants help to bridge the racial divide and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all children. MBUSD students and teachers are encouraged to apply for small grants to introduce programs that will focus on celebrating and respecting diversity — racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, economic and cultural. Applications will be accepted through November 1, 2017.

Teachers Driving Innovation (TDI) Grants: MBEF will continue the TDI Grant Program for teachers and counselors throughout our District. Each TDI grant ($250-$6,000) provides our educators with an opportunity to exercise their passion for teaching, develop ideas, collaborate with colleagues, and connect with the wealth of knowledge, expertise and talent within MBUSD. Applications will be accepted through November 1, 2017.

Teacher of the Year Awards: Each year MBUSD recognizes one teacher from each school site as the Teacher of the Year, and one of those teachers is selected as the District-wide Teacher of the Year. With this grant, made possible by an endowment fund sponsored by Katy and Robert Nickell, MBUSD’s seven Teachers of the Year will receive a monetary reward. This is an exciting opportunity to award the teachers who do so much for our children every day.

Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), Literacy and Writing: There have been significant changes in the manner in which we teach writing and literacy in schools throughout the country. MBEF helps ensure that each child’s curriculum keeps pace with the changing world by funding a TOSA to lead continuous improvement efforts throughout the District in this important area of growth.


Artist in Residence Program: Elementary students are introduced to cultural and performing arts through a 10-lesson ‘residency’ program presented by guest artists. Each residency meets the stringent California Visual and Performing Arts Standards, and reinforces classroom learning by tying to a unit of study or theme within each grade’s curriculum. The Artist in Residence program is supported by the PTA and MBEF to enhance classroom learning, strengthen students’ creative and artistic skills, build confidence, and broaden student exposure to a diverse array of experiences through the performing arts.

Class Size Reduction K-3/Additional Teachers: Class size reduction continues to be a top priority for parents and teachers. MBEF is continuing its commitment to keeping our class sizes low, and will help supplement state funding to the extent necessary. Our K-3 classrooms throughout the District are set at a maximum average of 24:1.

Elementary Assistant Principal: Both Grand View and Pacific Elementary have almost 40% more students and teachers at their school sites than the other three elementary schools in the District. This shared Assistant Principal will support the MBEF goal of parity among schools, and will increase the capacity of the Principals at both sites to better meet student academic and social emotional needs.

Library Specialists: Having access to a school library and knowing how to find your way around provides endless discoveries for students. This grant funds five Library Specialists – one for each of our five elementary schools. Library Specialists ensure that our school libraries are open for every student every hour that school is in session. In addition to maintaining the libraries, the Specialists work with all grade levels to help our students learn research and media literacy skills.

MakerSpace Assistants: MakerSpace labs provide our students with an opportunity to learn STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) skills. MakerSpaces provide creative, project based and confidence-building ways to explore challenging concepts. Due to the tremendous success and demand for innovative lab experiences, our community has worked together to develop unique MakerSpace environments throughout our elementary schools. MBEF is funding MakerSpace Assistants who will support program implementation by preparing materials, assisting teachers in facilitating lessons, and organizing the Maker Labs.

MakerSpace TOSA: As the interest and need for STEM curriculum continues, this grant allows for a Teacher on Special Assignment dedicated to helping the District integrate a dynamic MakerSpace curriculum in grades K-5 at all elementary sites. The underlying goal of a successful MakerSpace is to empower students to see themselves as inventors, builders and creators, and to learn problem-solving through trial and error. Having one District-wide lead will create synergy between the school sites and provide an opportunity for all K-5 students to explore the hands-on benefits of MakerSpace. The program will also benefit from MakerSpace assistants at each school to ensure the successful implementation.

Math TOSA: Our TOSAs have historically provided specialized coaching in academic areas that required more attention and growth, such as literacy, science, technology and 21st Century Teaching and Learning. MBEF will continue to fund a TOSA in math for grades K-5 to support the implementation of Common Core Math in the classroom.

Physical Education Teachers: MBEF is proud to support credentialed physical education teachers at the elementary schools. PE teachers provide 100 minutes of high quality physical education and sportsmanship each week to all students in grades 1-5. Research shows that physical activity can help children improve their concentration, memory, and classroom behavior, in addition to the physical health benefits.

Reading Specialists: From Kindergarten through third grade, children learn to read, and then they read to learn. Reading competency and comprehension ensures our students are on the right track for learning. This grant funds five credentialed teachers who work with students to increase reading proficiency for children on the entire reading spectrum. The Reading Specialists also work with all elementary teachers to promote high quality reading instruction for all students in the elementary schools.

Science Specialists: This grant funds five credentialed Science Specialists who provide all elementary students with hands-on lab experience and project-based learning opportunities that strengthen students’ passion for science. All five teachers have participated in the Project Lead the Way training and will continue to infuse the curriculum with hands-on STEM projects that are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

Start-Up Violin Costs for Elementary Music Wheel: MBEF is providing a one-time grant of $25,000 to the District to purchase a classroom set of starter violins for each elementary school. This will make it possible for all third-grade students who are participating in the Music Wheel to have an opportunity to play the violin for three months without having to purchase or lease an instrument.

Technology TOSAs: Our students have access to technology in the classroom from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. To ensure that technology is being used effectively, this grant funds experienced Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) who will implement best practices and support teachers to integrate technology into instruction at the elementary level.


Assistant Principal – Student Life: With the introduction of the additional Assistant Principal focused on student life and parent engagement in 2016/17, the leadership team at MBMS was better able to meet the varying needs of our student body. In just one year they introduced the Second Step student wellness program, a Social Emotional Wellness Committee, Parent Education workshops, Professional Development focused on growth mindset and brain development, and student and teacher sessions focused on creating a more inclusive learning environment. The continued investment in this role will support our leadership to better meet the diverse needs of our students.

Class Size Reduction – Additional Teachers: Through this grant, MBEF provides additional funding to ensure class sizes are smaller at MBMS. Smaller classes allow our teachers to provide students with more individualized attention and more frequent feedback and instruction.

Counselors: MBEF funds 100% of Counseling and the Student Academic Support (SAS) Program at MBMS. Counselors play an essential role for all students in academic guidance, personal counseling and life planning. When a child needs help with scheduling, class selection or social issues, an advisor is always there, operating on the front lines.

Electives (Art, Drama, Fab Lab, Film): One of the hallmarks of an excellent school is its ability to inspire students through a variety of innovative electives. Our enhanced Wheel program offers middle school students a range of electives, including Computer Application, Visual Arts, Kitchen Commerce Connections, Film, Journalism, Yearbook and Drama.

Empathy and Inclusion Program: MBMS is committed to developing a climate of care, where students are safe and respected. As part of that commitment, the administration would like to integrate lessons on empathy and social inclusion in partnership with the Manhattan Beach Police Department (MBPD). The program will include a tour of the Museum of Tolerance where students will explore themes such as the power of words, lessons from history, and going from bystander to ally. Girls will participate in the KIND campaign, a program that addresses girl-on-girl bullying and encourages girls to build each other up. Boys will engage in a set of presentations that address gender and cultural equity through the sharing of personal experiences and a facilitated discussion with MBMS staff and male MBPD officers. Additionally, teachers will integrate a focus on empathy by reading articles, watching videos, and participating in activities related to bias throughout the school year.

Extra Period Classes: This grant enables MBMS students to add an additional period so that they can fulfill course requirements and benefit from additional elective courses.

Library Specialist: Having access to a school library and knowing how to find your way around provides students with endless opportunities for discovery. MBEF supports a full-time Library Specialist to ensure that the MBMS Library is open every hour that school is in session. The specialist maintains the library and works with all teachers to help our students learn research and media literacy skills.

Math Teacher and Coach: One of the challenge points for our students has been the transition from elementary to middle school math. To support Common Core implementation at the secondary level, MBEF is funding a short-term position that will provide greater collaboration, expertise and guidance. This teacher leader serves as a 6th grade math teacher and as a coach for other teachers, thereby reducing the ratio of students to teachers at this critical juncture.

STEM Based Electives: MBEF will continue to support additional units of STEM at the middle school, as well as additional course options in the STEM field. For 2017/18, students will have the option to explore Robotics, Fab Lab and other STEM related electives in 7th and 8th grade.

Next Generation Science Standards Teacher Leader: Current best practices and teacher feedback indicate that modeling teaching practices in a “demonstration lab” is key to building a teacher’s capacity in the classroom. This model creates a better system through which our District can provide teachers with pathways for growth, without taking our best teachers out of the classroom. This year MBEF will continue to support a teacher leader in science at MBMS to lead the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in the classroom.


Class Size Reduction – Additional Teachers: Through this grant, MBEF provides additional funding to ensure class sizes are smaller at Mira Costa. Smaller classes allow our teachers to provide students with more individualized attention and more frequent feedback and instruction.

College and Career Counselors: MBEF funds 100% of two full-time college and career counselors and one assistant devoted to coaching our high school students and helping them navigate the college application process. This program is essential and ensures that our students apply to, and attend, inspirational institutions around the world. In 2016/17, the CCC expanded its hours to 11 per day, allowing greater access to students and parents.

Counselor Training and Working Sessions: In the coming year, Mira Costa’s Principal, Assistant Principal of Counseling, and all 10 MBEF-funded counselors in both the Guidance and College and Career Center, will engage in training and collaboration meetings. This will provide an opportunity for the counselors to meet as a group and seek alignment on counseling guidelines and practices.

Extra Period Classes: This grant enables Mira Costa students to add an additional period so they can fulfill course requirements, participate in AP classes, and take additional elective courses. More than 40% of MCHS students take advantage of an additional period each day.

Guidance and Academic Support Counselors: MBEF funds the Counseling and Student Academic Support (SAS) Program at Mira Costa. Counselors play an essential role for all students in academic guidance, personal counseling and life planning. When most schools have drastically reduced counselors, our ratios have improved to 263:1. The California average is 820:1.

Librarian: MBEF supports a full-time credentialed Librarian at Mira Costa. In addition to overseeing the library’s collection, the Librarian maintains the Technology Research Lab and works with all teachers to help our students learn research and media literacy skills.

Math Teacher Leaders: The transition to the Common Core State Standards in Math two years ago was a dramatic shift in mathematics education in California. Students need to accurately calculate equations, understand rather than memorize, and learn to select the best mathematical concept or equation to solve real-world problems, while demonstrating why the method or equation they selected is accurate.

The new standards expect students to learn and absorb the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels. To support this transition, our District’s teachers have participated in over 2 years of professional development guided by newly-created curriculum maps for each middle school course, high school Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. To build math leadership capacity, MBEF will be funding a 20% Algebra I Coach, 20% Geometry Coach, and 20% Algebra II Coach. These courses, coupled with the MBMS Math 1-3 classes, are the foundation to secondary mathematics. With one teacher-leader per course, these teachers can collaborate and coach their colleagues while also teaching those sections. This type of focused coaching/support allows teachers to strengthen skills without leaving their classrooms.

Next Generation Science Standards Teacher Leader: Current best practices and teacher feedback indicate that modeling teaching practices in a “demonstration lab” is key to building a teacher’s capacity in the classroom. This model also creates a better system through which our District can provide teachers with pathways for growth without taking our best teachers out of the classroom. This year MBEF will continue to fund a teacher leader in science at MCHS to support the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in the classroom.

Science Lab Assistant: The Science Lab Assistant at Mira Costa supports science teachers by making lab instruction organized, efficient and innovative. In our state-of-the-art Math and Science building, the Lab Assistant helps teachers to strengthen student learning through hands-on projects and instruction.


MBEF will never stop striving to strengthen our schools, and dreaming of what more is possible.

Previous Year Grants