By Staff Writer Andrea Tam
MSJ won a $10,000 grant presented by the Raley’s Reach program. The money will be used to purchase computers and other technological equipment for the school’s disadvantaged students.
Raley’s Reach is a program funded by Raley’s Family of Fine Stores in which schools are entered into the running for the grant by submitting their project idea explaining how money from the grant would be used. The community then decides the winning schools by voting for its favorite projects.
MSJ Parent Nancy Knight first heard of the opportunity when she received an email from Raley’s. She said, “As a financial advisor, I am not one to walk away from money, and I knew we could find a good use for it at MSJ.” She then began obtaining support by contacting parents via firstname.lastname@example.org. Mission Possible Parent & Faculty Association President Vivek Prasad developed a project idea. With input from Principal Zack Larsen, the proposal was finalized.
MSJ’s proposal, No Child Left Behind, targets the problem of MSJHS’s disadvantaged students performing lower than CA and national averages. The project description on the Raley’s Reach website said, “Less access to information compared to their peers, impacts their research, their grades and success in the real world. Disadvantaged students can end up with a life of crime, so helping them improve can lead to a safer & healthier environment for MSJ.”
The event was actively publicized during the 12-day voting window from May 5 to May 16. Knight and MSJ Parent Monica Melville organized a voting campaign. Larsen sent out Schoolloop messages urging students and parents to vote for MSJ. Each voter could vote once per day. The project was also supported by MPPFA, the Fremont Council Parent & Teacher Association, and Hopkins Junior High School. ASB President Tammy Tseng encouraged students to vote and continued spreading the word through social media. Tseng also organized an L2 effort on the last day of voting to visit students’ fourth period classrooms and walk them through the voting.
When voting ended on May 16, MSJ’s vote count totaled 5,044. Nevada’s Silver Stage Elementary School came in second with 3,930 votes, and CA’s Monterey Trail High School was third at 3,572 votes. MSJ will use the $10,000 grant to expand its program of loaning computers to disadvantaged students and hopefully provide them with better access to curriculum and the latest technology.
Knight said, “Mr. Larsen has already had some success loaning technology to a few students and I am glad that we expect more funding to do something extra for more disadvantaged students. I would like to thank each and every person who voted. And for the entire families who have voted every day, you are simply wonderful! And of course, thank you to MSJ, MPPFA, ASB, Hopkins Jr. High and the Fremont Council PTA for all of their support. Thank you so much!”
Of the program’s future prospects, Larsen said, “I think this community effort will benefit all students and ensure a more level playing field for all especially considering that technology is such an important aspect of learning in the 21st century.”