Skip to content

Project News | July 15, 2021

Mission Science Workshop: Exciting News!

Women smilingDespite making the shift to virtual classes during the 2020 school years, Mission Science Workshop (MSW) managed to reach more than 7000 students through approximately 720 online classes. Exploding homemade bath bombs, painting with kitchen spices, and experimenting with static electricity are examples of experiments that were conducted during the virtual classes. They are excited to announce, though, that they are now opening back up for in-person classes. That’s not the only good news. MSW is also elated to announce that they have onboarded their new Executive Director, Sonia Gandiaga. Sonia comes to MSW from a likeminded organization she founded, called ‘Science in the City’.

Learn more on the MSW website.

Harps of Comfort: The Healing Effect

harps of comfort logoAccording to a 2012 study, conducted among 100 patients at Arizona State University Hospital to observe the healing effects of music, harp music has the most beneficial impact on patients compared to music from other instruments. Whether their blood pressure was too low or too high, doctors observed that blood pressure stabilized in patients who had recently listened to harp music. Can you benefit from listening to harp music? If you need some calm and serenity in your life, try listening to the harp music videos hosted on the Harps of Comfort website. There are five harp music videos to choose from; they vary in length from forty-five minutes to one hour.

Listen to healing harp music.

South Kern Sol: Officials Report First COVID-19 Delta Variant Case in Kern County

COVID-19 vaccines available signAs of Wednesday, July 7, the Kern County Public Health Department reported 162 new COVID-19 cases within the five previous days, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 111,273. Also, the Health Department announced they detected the first case of the delta variant, which is now the most prolific variant in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. The delta variant reportedly makes up nearly 52% of new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in the Country. South Kern Sol (SKS) encourages anyone in Kern County, who is interested in becoming vaccinated, to look up vaccination sites on the Kern County Department of Public Health website. 

Read more on the SKS blog.

Attendance Works: The Latest Cant in Virginia Schools: “Learning Is Not Time Bound”

Hedy ChangThe Westchester, Virginia, Schools’ Superintendent, Jason Van Heukelem, has stated, “We intentionally embraced an opportunity presented by the pandemic to show our students and families that learning is not timebound.” What he means by this is that during the pandemic, students have demonstrated learning outside the classroom by working, volunteering, and exploring other passions – not necessarily by putting in screen time for online classes. He supports continuing this “new tradition.” Critics are concerned that these alternate activities will not help kids master the skills required to function at a higher cognitive level in a knowledge-based economy. Also, attendance won’t be tracked in the same way. Hedy Chang, of Attendance Works, explains the purpose of taking attendance is to look for “warning signs,” as absences can indicate something is happening and someone needs to check in with a child. Luckily, Virginia is one of the thirty-one states that requires daily attendance reporting, however, during the pandemic they moved to a “participation matrix”, which only requires teachers to report non-participatory students every two weeks. Hedy questions if this is frequent enough since a kid could be gone for quite a bit before anyone acts.

Read more here.

Board Member Highlight

Steve Barton, Community Initiatives Board MemberSteve Barton
Community Initiatives Board of Directors Service: April 2018–present

Steve is the Director for Regional Vibrancy and Sustainability at Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) and has a long history with the organization including stints on various committees as well as the NCG and Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers boards. Over the last several years he’s been a consultant on special projects, corporate philanthropy and social responsibility, and briefings. As the Director for Regional Vibrancy and Sustainability he’s focused on programs, initiatives, and projects that address the issues affecting our region from displacement and gentrification to income inequality, the arts, climate change, and disaster resiliency.

In addition to his consulting practice, Steve has been the Director for Foundation and Corporate Giving at Gap Inc., a program officer at the Marin Community Foundation, and served in Mayoral administrations in both San Francisco and Oakland.

Want to share your project’s updates? Let us know!

Email Stephanie at

If you would like to learn more about our projects, please visit our projects page.