Every year, Friends of Carmel Unified Schools, or FOCUS, gives grants to teachers in the school district to fund everything ranging from books to laptops to microscopes to metal for the robotics club. This year, FOCUS gave almost $80,000 in grants.
The largest grant CHS received went to Operation Padre for $20,000 to go towards a new sound system for the CHS multi-sport facility project.
“Every little bit that we get is extremely helpful,” Lopez says. “$20,000 goes a long way.”
Lopez goes on to stress that the sound system and ability to announce during games is critically important to the facility, and that Operation Padre is still raising funds.
FOCUS differs from other organizations because it is made up of a teacher from every school site in the district and an equal number of interested parents.
“The unique thing about FOCUS is that it’s very grass-rootsy,” CHS teacher and FOCUS member Diana Govan says. “Parents and teachers raise the money and give it directly to the individual teachers. The trend in the last few years is that more and more grants are technology-related.”
The largest grant that FOCUS donated this year was $35,000 to River School and Tularcitos School to purchase 120 Chromebooks for both schools’ third grade classes. FOCUS grants range in amount, however, with the smallest grant of $500 going to AP Literature teacher Barbara Steinberg to purchase books. Leadership teacher Leigh Cambra also received $600 to purchase two Chromebooks.
“I really appreciated receiving money to buy the Chromebooks for the leadership program,” Cambra says. “Before that, our technology was mostly limited to paint and glitter.”
Robotics teacher Paul McFarlin received a $1,000 grant to purchase metal for the club.
McFarlin says, “They’ve helped us for the last six years, and we couldn’t do robotics without them.”