First published in the Sept. 23 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
Pasadena Community Foundation has been selected to receive the 2021 Superintendent’s Award from Pasadena Unified School District. The annual award recognizes organizations or individuals that “go above and beyond the normal expectations in supporting PUSD’s students and schools,” according to a spokesperson.
The award holds special meaning this year, as Superintendent of Schools Brian McDonald, noted during the recent 2021 All-Staff Welcome Back event.
“The last year was a time of extraordinary challenges, and it is more important than ever that we honor the outstanding community partners who brought innovative thinking and care to their work for our students and families,” McDonald said.
Sponsored by the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF) and the California Credit Union, the Superintendent’s Award was initiated five years ago by McDonald.
For PCF, the pandemic ushered in a period of substantial funding in support of PUSD students and families, something McDonald says was instrumental in honoring the Foundation.
“PCF has been supporting PUSD in direct and indirect ways over multiple years,” he said. “And this year, when families and students needed help over the pandemic, PCF really came through.”
PCF’s direct support of PUSD can be measured in its longtime support of Pasadena Education Foundation, an organization that enhances and supplements PUSD programs and builds dynamic community partnerships to provide local public schools with essential resources and enrichment opportunities. The foundation’s first grant to PEF was in 1974, and since then, PCF’s total funding to PEF stands at more than $1.8 million.
PCF’s indirect support comes in the form of its broad grantmaking to local nonprofit organizations that assist PUSD students and families with food and housing assistance, arts and educational opportunities, health and wellness, and more. As the effects of the pandemic amplified during the last 18 months, PCF dispersed numerous new grants and
repurposed those already in place to ensure that the district’s most vulnerable families had the supplies and assistance they needed.
Since March 2020, PCF grants to PUSD supported:
• Provision of essential PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for staff members who came to work despite the risks
• The Families in Transition program, helping provide the basic needs of homeless students and their families while campuses were closed
• Outreach to students enrolled in the district’s Special Education Department to improve remote learning
• Remote and in-person tutoring and expanded learning opportunities for students at
Madison Elementary School who struggled with learning
During McDonald’s visit to the PCF’s office to present the award, he said “in this work, I truly believe in collective impact. We cannot do it all ourselves, we need the community to step in where they can.”
PCF President and CEO Jennifer DeVoll concurred, noting “the pandemic found PCF at the table with other community partners, which was a new approach for the foundation and one that really made us realize how important collective impact is. We are so happy that we, as an organization, were able to act in tandem with other community partners and to nimbly shift focus to uplift PUSD students and families.”