Education is the most important thing that we can bestow upon our society. With a greater level of education comes more job opportunities, greater financial stability, and less fear. Because education is so important, I decided to investigate two non-profits, in two different fields, that focus on providing resources and funding to educators and students. The first non-profit is the newly established VAPA Foundation, which focuses on provided resources and grants to VAPA teachers and students in San Diego, and the second is the National Center for Science Education, which focuses on building communities for teachers to accurately teach sciences that are being disputed by the masses.

The VAPA Foundation (VF) is a private organization that seeks to fill the gaps left by San Diego Unified School District in the visual and performing arts. The director of VAPA for SDUSD is the treasurer for the VF; he conducted the district-honor ensemble two years ago that I was a part of. As I have been in VAPA programs for 9 years, I know how vital donations are to the programs; after hearing that a full non-profit is stepping in and is beginning supporting the arts excited me, and I knew I wanted to get involved. I spoke with their management about their vision for the future, and was able to analyze the self-reported financial data that they had released. While I did enjoy my conversation with them very much – and agree with their mission – their finances raised some questions. They are a young organization, and hopefully as they become more established, they become more efficient and can have greater footprint in the community.

The National Center for Science Education, based in Oakland, CA, focuses on supported teachers who are teaching evolution and climate change in areas where such topics are controversial. In California, where evolution and climate change are accepted as the science that they are, we often dismiss the battle scientists face in the rest of the country – the NCSE has picked up that slack. As Californians, climate change may pose the greatest threat to us out of all the states. But as we begin to understand the long term effects of climate change, we begin to realize that the nation as a whole, and the world as a whole is at great risk. The NCSE goes into states where such urgency is not felt and/or not understood, and provides teachers with the resources they need to teach climate change correctly. Their mission drew me to them, and I analyzed their From 990, which revealed that they were a strong, solvent organization that has the money to support their programs. Furthermore, their liquid assets they have invested in securities all reflect the mission of the NCSE: their assets are invested consciously, and they do not invest in oil companies, or companies contributing to mis-education. What really put them over the top for me was my discussion I had with their management. I was able to speak with their Director of Development, who was very helpful in answering all of my questions. My conversation with the Director revealed that the management team of the NCSE truly cares about their issues, and convinced me that the nonprofit had the financial strength and the management team to garner my vote for the nonprofit my group should donate to.

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