The Energy Partners Fund, a committee advised fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation, awarded  $110,000 in grants and educational programs focusing on STEM. The grants were presented in early October at Presqu’ile Winery in Orcutt.

Grants from the fund support programs from simple to complex – all with the goal to foster learning and enthusiasm in STEM. While most of the grants went to elementary and secondary schools in Santa Barbara County, a few reached as far as Fillmore and Nipomo. Energy Partners Fund representatives presented awards to teachers and administrators for equipment including interactive computer projectors, iPads, and air quality probes, as well as for programs to support math and robotics teams, teacher training, and curriculum development.

Energy Partners Fund is proud to continue awarding larger grants to specific  projects that exemplify the benefit of community-based partnerships. It is because of the generous support from major sponsors- ExxonMobil, Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas, Aera Energy LLC and the Santa Maria Valley Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers – that these grants are possible.  The first of these grants went to support the Family Ultimate Science Exploration (FUSE) nights at UC Santa Barbara. This program supports underrepresented students and their families to gain familiarity with the practice of science, its importance in education, and its promise of exciting career options. At FUSE events, 8th grade students and their families rotate in 30-minute sessions through three bilingual activities related to physics, chemistry, and biology. The activities are led by UCSB undergraduate and graduate students.

A second grant was jointly funded by the Energy Partners Fund, and Highland Santa Barbara Foundation, Inc. to support the second year of Reasoning Mind in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District. Reasoning Mind is an interactive, computer-based mathematics program designed to engage elementary students in the development of strong critical thinking, reasoning, and logic skills. The focus on deep conceptual understanding and computational fluency prepares students for success in higher level math courses. Implementation in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District began this fall and is expected to impact about 500 students.

Olivia Bolanos, Director of Curriculum Instruction at Santa Maria-Bonita School District, suggested that it would be appropriate to change the name to “Positive” Energy Partners Fund.  “We in the Santa Maria –Bonita School District are so fortunate to have the support of the Energy Partners Fund that allows our teachers to expand their learning and empower our students.  This opportunity helps us move our students forward in STEM related projects that will be so instrumental in helping them be successful in their academic careers and as they prepare to be 21st Century ready.  Our teachers are eager to learn and our students now have the ability to access a multitude of resources at their fingertips and within minutes.  We look forward to our continued partnership and can only imagine the endless possibilities of the positive investment in our future.”

To date, the EnergyPartners Fund has awarded more than $960,000 to local classrooms, schools, districts, and nonprofit organizations with a cumulative impact exceeding 50,000 students.

2015 Grantees:

  • Allan Hancock College: Event expenses for Girls STEM Conference
  • American Association of University Women, California Special Projects Fund: Two  scholarships for  8th grade girls to attend camp at UC Santa Barbara
  • Blochman Union School District: Interactive Learning and Technology
  • Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clara Valley: Professional development, materials, and competition travel
  • Community Robotics Learning Foundation, SYV:  Collaborative Robot Maker Space
  • El Camino School:  Science laboratory tools and resources
  • Girls Inc. of Carpinteria:  STEM expenses related to The Eureka Program
  • Nipomo High School: VEX Robotics
  • Orcutt Academy High School: Spartatroniks Robotics Team
  • Orcutt Academy Independent Study in Casmalia: Microscopes for Young Scientists
  • Pioneer Valley High School: Air quality monitoring probes
  • Providence, A Santa Barbara Christian School: Laptops for the Engineering Academy
  • SBCEO Teachers Network:  Collaborative Learning Team Grants
  • Santa Maria-Bonita School District: Reasoning Mind elementary math program
  • Taylor Elementary School:  STEM Education Ambassador Program
  • University of California, Santa Barbara: Family Ultimate Science Exploration (FUSE) nights