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SMSF's Grant-Making Process

In 2017, the Foundation instituted a grant-making process to provide more transparency and accountability into how the San Marino Unified School District spends Foundation donations. 

The Foundation’s mission is to provide financial support solely to the San Marino Unified School District. Since its founding in 1980, the Foundation has donated, thanks to its generous supporters, over $53 million to support SMUSD programs, helping San Marino schools remain one of the best public school systems in the state.

To provide more accountability and transparency to its donors on how SMUSD uses donations, the Foundation examined grant-making best practices and conversed with SMUSD over several years. Reflecting philanthropic foundation models, the Foundation developed and approved a process in which the district submits a grant application, which includes a description and amount of how funds will be used. In its grant application, SMUSD details which teaching position and the funding amount for those positions, allowing the Foundation and its donors to understand what is funded. The proposal is reviewed by the Foundation’s grants committee, which is comprised of Foundation Trustees. The grants committee makes a recommendation to the full Foundation board, which deliberates and votes on the proposal. Upon approval, the Foundation disburses the approved amount to SMUSD.

In 2018, the inaugural year of the grant-making process, the Foundation reviewed and approved a grants docket that included:

  • $2.0 million for 21 full-time teachers: four (4) at Carver Elementary, four (4) at Valentine Elementary, five (5) at Huntington Middle School, and eight (8) at San Marino High School;
  • $97,000 for the District’s Wellness Initiative Proposal: This grant funded the entirety of the proposed budget for this initiative. This initiative aims to address the social and emotional needs of its students in all four schools. 
  • $19,450 for Mindfulness Programs: Aligned with the District’s Wellness Initiative, Huntington Middle School offers Mindfulness Programs. This grant covered mindfulness resources, programs, and instruction.
  • $10,000 for additional wellness programs: This grant supported programming at all four sites to instill social and emotional well-being.
  • $8,415 for First Lego League Program: This amount funded supplies for First Lego League Program, a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program. This league serves both elementary schools.
  • $7,000 for CalTech Cooperative: High school students traveled to CalTech to work under the direction of one of four professors as part of a new STEM Research Course. This funding paid for twice-per-month transportation to CalTech.

Since 2018, donations made to SMUSD are preceded by a grant application.

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