The Vanir Foundation is best known for providing elementary schools with educational improvement programs that aim to close the achievement gap. Below is some of the best know work of the Vanir Foundation:
Bret Harte Elementary School
Bret Harte Elementary School is located in South Sacramento. It currently slightly fewer than 400 students attending grades K through 6. More than 90 percents of the students, according to US Department of Education statistics, come from families living at or below the poverty line. Roughly 65 percent of the school’s students are learning English as a second language; their primary language is Spanish. The Vanir Foundation is helping the students at Bret Harte in a number of ways. Tutors working after school and on Saturdays have been funded, a new science laboratory has been built, uniforms have been provided for families without the financial means to purchase them, and the Engineering is Elementary program has been launched. This exposes students to many vital principles of engineering via applied learning activities.
Laurel Elementary School
Laurel Elementary School is a K through 5 school with a student body of roughly 520 students. Minority enrollment at Laurel is 97 percent; this figure is significantly higher than the 74 percent which is normal for the state. Notable programs being run at Laurel include Math Night, Literacy Night, the Immersion Special Education Program, and the Therapy Dog Reading Program. The school is also getting a Robotics Program thanks to the Vanir Foundation – this is intended to foster more learning in the fields of science, math, and engineering.
Mother of Sorrows
Mother of Sorrows is a Catholic school in central Los Angeles offering K through 8 education to nearly 210 students. Virtually all of the school’s students qualify as socioeconomically disadvantaged; the Vanir Foundation opened up the Engineering is Elemental program to students in grades one through five. The Foundation is also responsible for the highly successful Accelerated Reading Program. As a sample of what the program has achieved, second graders at Mother of Sorrows improved their overall reading proficiency by 64 percent in the 2010-2011 school year. Where none of the 2nd-grade students were reading at grade level at the start of the year, nearly two-thirds of them were by the end of the year.
Noralto Elementary School
Noralto Elementary School is a bilingual facility serving 600 students in grades K through 2 in North Sacramento. More than 70 percent of the school’s students speak Spanish as a primary language and the overwhelming majority of them are living at or below the poverty level. Thanks to funding from the Vanir Foundation, many Noralto families are receiving the financial support they need to purchase the uniforms their children require. The Foundation is also working closely with Noralto’s principal to develop effective means of increasing the school’s safety and improving its students’ academic performance. The areas of greatest interest include science, math, and language arts.
The Burbank Elementary School
The Burbank Elementary School closed its doors in 2012. The students who had formerly attended this Partner School were redirected to the Norton Elementary School. While a new school – the H. Frank Dominguez Elementary School – is being constructed, the Foundation’s Board is working closely with the Norton School’s principal to ensure that all of the Partner School students are supported during this transitional period.
H. Frank Dominquez Elementary School
H. Frank Dominquez Elementary School is a new K through 6 school being built at 135 S. Allen Street. With a student capacity of 408, the school is a fitting tribute to H. Frank Dominguez, who was the founder of the Vanir Group. Mr. Dominquez was deeply engaged in philanthropy and community service up until his passing in 2004.
St. Philomene School
St. Philomene School, one of North Sacramento’s Catholic schools, educates nearly 240 students in grades K through 8. Roughly 57 percent of the student body is socioeconomically disadvantaged. The Vanir Foundation helped give students at St. Philomene a chance to explore civil, chemical, and electrical engineering this year in its Engineering is Elementary after-school program. St. Philomene is another school where the Foundation is collaborating closely with the principal in order to foster a safer environment and boost students’ academic performance.
There are over six hundred students in grades K through six attending Tyrrell Elementary. With a large contingent of students from immigrant families, roughly 80 percent of Tyrrell’s student body comes from non-English speaking households. Tyrell is located in a rough part of Hayward, and the staff is very proud of the safe, serene educational environment they have established there. The Vanir Foundation has helped by purchasing school uniforms, launching the Accelerated Reading Program with 130 new books, and helped parents in the school’s Parent University with basic childcare expenses. The Foundation has also funded educational assemblies, field trips, and Tyrell’s student performance initiative program.