PPIE Connects Businesses with Students

School may be out for summer, but not for the Pleasanton Partnerships In Education (PPIE) Foundation. It will not be long before school begins, so this non-profit group is preparing for another year of connecting local businesses to students, helping to develop the workforce of the future.

"It's all about partnership," says PPIE Executive Director Debi Covello. "PPIE is like a clearinghouse for businesses that want to get involved with schools and direct funds to school programs that do not receive district funding."

For the past 20 years, PPIE has existed to enhance learning experiences for students of the Pleasanton Unified School District, facilitating partnerships with local businesses and community members.

"PPIE offers many opportunities for businesses to get involved with education," explains Covello. "One of our long-running, most successful programs is Career Days when business professionals visit middle schools to talk about their careers."

Career Days is an annual program that runs from early February to early March, when half a school day is dedicated to the event. "This is a great way for businesses to get involved," adds Covello. "We are always looking for speakers for this event."

The foundation's major contribution to Pleasanton schools is through its grant program that provides funding for two purposes: student grants and education grants for teachers and faculty. Grants are awarded to students twice a year for any amount up to $500 per application. A student who applies for a grant for a specific project must be sponsored by a teacher and approved by the school principal. Student grants are awarded for projects that promote positive learning experiences inside and outside the classroom, and support co-curricular and extra curricular activities and projects. Some examples are robotics and technology clubs, performing arts groups and athletics.

Educational grants are provided to teachers and faculty of any amount up to $2,500 per application and must be approved by the school principal. These grants are for projects that are student-focused, that promote creativity and innovative thinking, and offer expanded learning opportunities to students. Some examples are take-home reading libraries for elementary schools, a student athletic trainer internship program, and a garden-based science program. In May, PPIE announced that grants totaling $32,000 were awarded to 20 teachers and faculty this year. Throughout the PPIE grant program's 17-year history, the foundation has awarded over $500,000 in grants.

To provide grants to students and teachers, PPIE depends on contributions from local businesses and community members through an annual outreach program in January. "Many of our regular donors are major businesses in Hacienda including Oracle, Kaiser, Robert Half International, and Washington Mutual," says Covello.

In addition, PPIE hosts a major culinary event and competition as its annual fundraiser. This year's event titled, "Bon Appetit" Culinary Event is Saturday, October 13, 2007 at the CarrAmerica Conference Center, from 6:30 to 10:30 pm.

"This is a very popular event with businesses and the community," says Covello. "Businesses sponsorships can qualify them to compete in the culinary competition with local chefs. The food and wines are incredible."

To find out more about PPIE, how to get involved and the culinary event, contact Debi Covello at (925) 846-5620 or mail@ppie.org .

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