A group of six Casa Grande teachers joined by CFSC Communications Director, Caitlin Childs, gathered at the CFSC office.

Community Foundation Sonoma County recently had the pleasure of hosting a two-day teacher externship for a small group of Casa Grande High School educators. The five educators joined our staff at the CFSC office to learn more about the nonprofit field in Sonoma County and better understand the work Community Foundation Sonoma County does and our role in the community.

The externship is part of the larger Sonoma County Office of Education teacher externship week, also known as the Sonoma Summer Summit. Teacher externships are designed to equip teachers and educators with new knowledge and skills they can offer their students as they prepare to enter the career field.

On day one of the externship, the Casa Grande educators sat down with our Philanthropic Planning Team to get a glimpse at how we work with donors in the community and to dissect and discuss how our personal values can guide our choices, from where we give, to how we spend our time. Additionally, our Community Impact Team shared about our grants processes and led the teachers through an exercise evaluating grant applications-what makes a compelling case? How do we decide what organizations to fund when funding is limited?

On day two of the externship, the teachers joined us for a Coffee with CFSC Networking Zoom Event, where the group spent time meeting nonprofit leaders from programs like Forget Me Not Farm, The Child Parent Institute, and Becoming Independent. Following the event, the teachers expressed their appreciation and ability to interact openly in an authentic and relaxed fashion. The group expressed feeling “inspired and rejuvenated” after seeing more concretely that so many people are doing incredible work to help tackle critical issues in our community.

“On my drive home last night,” said Jon Mazer, who teaches media studies at Casa Grande, “I felt so much more inspired to know that people are working hard to solve our community’s challenges. I didn’t feel as hopeless and frustrated.”

Witnessing the collaborative and dedicated community work the Community Foundation does, proved to be very exciting for our group of educators. As we wrapped up day two of the externship, the teachers were eager and excited to begin implementing some of the values and lessons they learned at the Foundation into their own work in the classroom.

A key value that struck the educators was the idea of creating and sustaining a trust-based environment—beginning in their own classrooms. This is an essential element of our grantmaking practices. Much like how parents put their trust in educators to teach and care for their kids, as funders, it’s critical that we trust the organizations we fund to do the best work possible in their programs.

Kelin Castleberry, who teaches English at the school, said she wanted to take back the concept of “bringing heart to solving community challenges.”

The teachers shared that their students often express feeling overwhelmed by everything happening in the world. After spending two days learning about the people working on behalf of the thousands of nonprofit organizations at work in Sonoma County, they were inspired and hopeful to be able to offer that same hope to their students.

We are thrilled to have been a part of their summer journey!

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