Holiday Spirit

First-grade students at Los Robles Dual Immersion work on masks, a project of the Menlo Park nonprofit Art in Action.

Posted Nov. 25, 2016

Keeping art in East Palo Alto schools
Art in Action uses Holiday Fund grant to bring art to young students

Story and photos by Anna Medina

As first-graders spilled into Amy Modrich's classroom, they marveled at masks set out on desks, picking them up and eagerly asking what they were going to do in class that day. Modrich called the students to a round table, where she introduced the art lesson by pointing out where Africa was on the map.

Modrich's first-grade art class is part of Los Robles Dual Immersion Magnet Academy, one of three schools in East Palo Alto that implement Art in Action's lessons with the support of a grant through the Palo Alto Weekly's Holiday Fund.

First-grade students at Los Robles Dual Immersion work on masks, a project of the Menlo Park nonprofit Art in Action.
The Weekly, which has been supporting Art in Action's initiatives since 2004, awarded the nonprofit a $5,000 grant this past year, which went toward facilitating Art in Action's year-long lessons and curriculum at Los Robles, East Palo Alto Charter School and CostaƱo Elementary School. Currently, Art in Action -- a national nonprofit headquartered in Menlo Park -- is in 40 classrooms that serve around 1,300 students in East Palo Alto alone.

Modrich's is one of those classrooms. Before the students arrived, she sat at a table reviewing the Art in Action lesson for the day on her laptop. The Art in Action online platform walks teachers through lessons and includes tips for how to adapt and integrate the various lessons.

As she talked, she set out a map of the world on one table and placed decorative Haitian masks around the room. She explained that she had brought the masks herself because they went with the lesson, in which students would be making African masks. She also brought examples of African artwork she's collected from her travels. She said she was excited to see the students' reactions.

"All kids love art -- it's natural -- it doesn't matter where you come from or what your demographic is," she said.

First-grade students at Los Robles Dual Immersion work on masks, a project of the Menlo Park nonprofit Art in Action.
The lesson was grounded in more than just making masks -- it was also about exploring and understanding geography and culture in an authentic, relevant and engaging way.

"Art is everywhere," Modrich said to the class during the lesson. "There are different kinds of art because there are different kinds of people."

The idea that art is everywhere resonates with Art in Action's mission to integrate art into the classroom -- even incorporating it into science and math lessons. This past year, Art in Action participated in a study through the Department of Education at Stanford University and the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, which indicated that art has a positive impact on math and reading proficiency.

"There's a connection between art in terms of critical thinking and design thinking that actually increase those proficiency levels and test scores, and that's a fact," said Ken Toren, interim executive director at Art in Action, adding that it was all the more exciting to see STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) efforts in schools.

"The notion of being visual is a critical component to education today," he said.

Art in Action's lessons are designed around themes that touch on varying aspects of art history. The group offers year-long curriculum for kindergarten through sixth grade that builds on itself. As part of this subscription, Art in Action ships the lesson materials to schools and relies on volunteers and businesses to help assemble and ship the boxes.

First-grade students at Los Robles Dual Immersion work on masks, a project of the Menlo Park nonprofit Art in Action.
The group also trains teachers and parents to teach the lessons, said Mara Grimes, development manager at Art in Action. In the case of East Palo Alto schools, the nonprofit used grant money to hire a designated art coordinator, who works with the schools to teach Art in Action in the classrooms.

"What we found out is that we could give this program to schools ... and sometimes they would teach it and sometimes they wouldn't because they just didn't have the resources to make that happen," Grimes said.

"So, a few years ago we realized that what they really needed was what we call an art coordinator," she said. "That's a person who goes into the schools and teaches them how to teach it and works with their volunteers and helps organize materials and helps them set up scheduling."

As East Palo Alto's art coordinator, Victoria Lau noted that teachers have appreciated how easy Art in Action's lessons were to integrate in the classroom, especially given their alignment with the Common Core standards. On a personal note, though, she said that she appreciates the rapport that she builds with teachers and students.

"One of the things I really love about seeing it in a work capacity, but also in a personal capacity, is when kids see me on the playground (for example), they'll say 'Oh, Mrs. Lau, when are you coming to teach?'" she said.

At the end of the class, Modrich's room of first-graders were so immersed in their mask-making that they didn't want to leave their seats. Modrich assured them they would be revisiting masks and many other interesting topics throughout the year -- a comment that left the kids visibly, and audibly, excited.

Apply for a Holiday Fund Grant

Nonprofits serving children and families may apply for funds by downloading our Grant Application Guidelines and Grant Application Form. Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2023.

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2022 Recipient Agency

49ers Academy$10,000

AbilityPath$10,000

Able Works$10,000

Ada's Cafe$25,000

Adolescent Counseling Services$7,500

Art in Action$10,000

Bay Area Friendship Circle$5,000

Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation$5,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters
of the Bay Area
$10,000

Blossom Birth & Family$5,000

Canopy$5,000

CASA of San Mateo County$5,000

Children's Health Council$10,000

Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto$5,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto$10,000

Counseling and Support Services for Youth - CASSY$15,000

DreamCatchers$15,000

East Palo Alto Academy Foundation$10,000

East Palo Alto Charter School$5,000

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation$15,000

East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring$15,000

East Palo Alto YMCA$10,000

Eastside College
Preparatory School
$7,500

EPACENTER$10,000

Family Connections$7,500

Fit Kids Foundation$5,000

Foundation for a
College Education
$10,000

Fresh Approach$10,000

Friends for Youth$5,000

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo$10,000

Heart and Home Collaborative$10,000

Hope Horizon East Palo Alto$7,500

Jasper Ridge Farm$5,000

Kara$15,000

Learning Home Volunteers$10,000

Live In Peace$10,000

Magical Bridge Foundation$10,000

Mannakin Theater & Dance$5,000

Marine Science Institute$5,000

Midpen Media Center$7,500

Music in the Schools Foundation$8,000

My New Red Shoes$5,000

New Voices for Youth$5,000

Pacific Art League of Palo Alto$12,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation$10,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care $30,000

Palo Alto Players$10,000

Peer Point$20,000

Peninsula Bridge$10,000

Peninsula College Fund$10,000

Peninsula Healthcare Connection$10,000

Peninsula Volunteers$15,000

Peninsula Youth Theatre$5,000

Pursuit of Excellence Scholarship Foundation$20,000

Ravenswood Classroom Partners$20,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation$10,000

Reading Partners
Silicon Valley
$10,000

ReadySetExcel$5,000

Rebuilding Together Peninsula$7,500

Resource Area for
Teaching (RAFT)
$5,000

Rich May Foundation$5,000

Rise Together Education$10,000

Ronald McDonald House$5,000

Rosalie Rendu Center$5,000

Sager Family Farm$5,000

Silicon Valley
Urban Debate League
$7,500

St. Elizabeth Seton School$10,000

TheatreWorks$5,000

UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival)$10,000

WeHOPE$15,000

WomenSV$7,500

Youth Community Service$25,000

Child Care Grants

All Five$10,000

Covenant Children's Center$10,000

Creative Montessori
Learning Center
$10,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School$10,000

Parents Nursery School$10,000


As of December 7th, 165 donors have contributed $145,397 to the Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld at donor's request

24 Anonymous7,075
Eileen & Rick Brooks1,000
Maureen O'Connor150
Martha Shirk1,200
Jennifer DiBrienza & Jesse Dorogusker1,000
Diane and Brandy Sikic*
Alicia Newman100
Dorsey & Katherine Bass300
Edie Kirkwood1,000
Micri & Bob Cardelli*
George & Betsy Young*
Diana Diamond1,000
Brigid Barton 2,000
Korol Family250
Lawrence R. Yang & Jennifer W. Kuan10,000
Anthony & Susan Wood25,000
Lynn and Andrew Newman*
Katherine Bryant100
Barbara Riper*
Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Carolyn Caddes*
Kroymann Family250
Marian Adams100
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
Elaine Hah1,500
Retired*
Julie & Dan Lythcott-Haims250
Tess & Eric Byler150
Denise and Jeff Simons*
Keith and Linda Clarke*
Harriet Benson10,000
Arthur Keller250
Cynthia Costell100
George & Betsy Bechtel200
Ellen M. Lillington200
Tom & Nancy Fiene200
Tom & Patricia Sanders*
Amado & Deborah Padilla250
Margo Sensenbrenner*
Merele McClure250
Joanne Koltnow400
Christina Kenrick1,000
Richard Johnsson5,000
Xiaofan Lin100
Bonnie and Bryan Street*
Thomas Rindfleisch*
Jody Maxmin*
Diane and Joe Rolfe*
Diane Finkelstein250
Linda & Steve Boxer*
David & Betsy Fryberger400
Jan Aarts*
Judith Appleby300
Donald Barr150
Charles & Barbara Stevens*
Edward Kanazawa300
Karen A. Latchford*
Kingsley Jack250
Richard Zuanich150
Patti Yanklowitz and Mark Krasnow100
Denise Savoie and Darrell Duffie*
Elizabeth Salzer & Richard Baumbartner*
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Scott and Jan Kilner500
Dorothy Saxe100
Kieschnick family1,000
Barbara Klein*
Dorothy Deringer200
Art and Peggy Stauffer500
Ed & Linda DeMeo500
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Scottie Zimmerman100
Fran Codispoti250
Ted & Ginny Chu*
The Dong Family200
Bill Reller*
Harry E & Susan B Hartzell100
Ann Burrell & Charles Smith*
Janis Ulevich*
Theradep Technologies500
Jack and Susan Thomas*
Julie and Jon Jerome*
Andrea B. Smith100
Leif and Sharon Erickson500
The Havern Family5,000
Gwen Luce and Family*
Bruce Campbell*
Freddy & Jan Gabus250
Richard & Pat Douglas50
Susan & Doug Woodman150
Donald Price*
Judy Ousterhout*
Judy Kramer*
Kingston Duffie & Elizabeth Schwerer500
Roger & Joan Warnke300
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
John Keller100
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Margaret Forsyth and Glenn Rennels*
Charlotte Johansen200
Leo & Marlys Keoshian250
Donna Silverberg100
Paul & Jane Millman250
In Memory Of

Walter Dean*
Er-Ying and Y.C. Yen250
Jack Sutorius750
Michele Wilson*
Bob Donald350
Leonard Ware*
Robert Spinrad100
August King*
Bob Simoni500
David W. Mitchell*
Paul Seaver*
Gerald Berner300
Ian Halliday250
Ray Bacchetti300
Marie and Don Snow200
Andre Jones *
Jim and Dottie Mellberg*
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
David Sager100
Ted Linden200
Lily & Philip Gottheiner150
Chet Brown*
Phil Zschokke200
Nellie Perna Bartello100
Bob Donald*
Steven T. Ross100
In Honor Of

Marilyn Sutorius750
Darla Tupper3,922
Leo & Sylvia Breidenbach and Thomas & Louise Phinney1,000
Polly Caddes*
Joe Simitian*
Gabby Perez & Logan Marsh250
Dr Ron Radzilowski*
Businesses & Organizations

Angelo Family Foundation 5,000
Palo Alto Business Park*
Hearts & Minds Activity Center75
Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,500
Peery Foundation10,000
Arrillaga Foundation10,000

Past Holiday Fund Grant Recipients

2018-2019 | 2017-2018 | 2016-2017 | 2015-2016 | 2014-2015 | 2013-2014 | 2012-2013 | 2011-2012 | 2010-2011 | 2009-2010 | 2008-2009 | 2007-2008 | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005 | 2003-2004 | 2002-2003 | 2001-2002 | 2000-2001 | 1999-2000