Coinciding with the start of a new school year in Napa County, the Napa Valley Vintners, trade group for the local wine industry, has announced its plans to invest $2.5 million worth of funding into children’s education here.
The funds are the proceeds from the group’s annual high-profile fundraiser, Auction Napa Valley. Since the first Auction in 1981, the NVV has channeled more than $180 million into community organizations in Napa.
In its 38th rendition this June, the Auction brought in more than $13.6 million, down from $15.7 million in 2017.
The NVV’s grant for children’s education is NVV’s first round of donations for this year. A batch of community healthcare organization recipients will be announced in the fall.
Both community healthcare and children’s education have been the focus of the NVV’s charitable giving for the past several years.
On top of the $2.5 million being gifted now, the group also put up $4 million to see two Boys & Girls Club facilities built in the county. Those facilities, one in American Canyon and one in Calistoga, both opened within the past year.
Napa County Chief Probation Officer Mary Butler credited groups that receive NVV funding with lowering the number of Napa youth on probation over the last decade. “The prevention and educational programs that happen at Boys & Girls Clubs help give our youth options for learning and other activities that help them stay on a positive path,” Butler said in a news release from the NVV.
With this round of funding, the NVV will also continue funding one of their pilot programs aimed at bolstering early childhood development throughout the county. However, the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative will receive only half of the funding from the group that it’s taken in each year since its founding in 2011. The NVV has said that after this year’s $310,000, the initiative will stop receiving money from the group.
Though readiness tests have proved the initiative’s effectiveness in preparing “at risk” children in Napa for kindergarten, the future of the initiative will be decided by whether or not steady funding from a source other than the NVV can be found within the next year.
In addition to the Early Learning Initiative, other organizations receiving the most of the NVV funding during this cycle will include the Boys and Girl Clubs of Napa Valley and On the Move, which will each take in $350,000. The Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga, Community Resources for Children and Child Start, Inc., will each receive $200,000.
The largest donation, $500,000, is going to NapaLearns. Among the group’s work is the use of technology and digital curricula to help Napa preschoolers and elementary students learn English more effectively.
According to the NapaLearns, 78 percent of students in the county’s public preschools are English language learners from low-income families. NapaLearns also offers professional development for teachers and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education programs to prep students for the growing presence of technology in many workplaces.
Bringing the industry-generated funding full circle in a way, through NapaLearns, STEM students from American Canyon Middle and High Schools in January visited the bottling facility of Trinchero Family Estates in Lodi, to learn the ins and outs of tech-based jobs in the wine industry today.