VAPA Foundation


The VAPA Foundation was founded in 2017 and connects the visual and performing arts to students and teachers in San Diego Unified School District [SDUSD]. 40% of SDUSD students come from low-income or poverty-level families, and by funding teacher art projects, professional development, and art materials needed for an art-enhanced and standards-based education, student learning potential is increased.
Mr. Garner Saguil’s fourth-grade class at Dingeman Elementary School in Scripps Ranch received ukuleles because of the VAPA Foundation. Thanks to this funding, student Mila Shatzko was able to sing and play songs for family, friends, and seniors at The Belmont Village Assisted Living Center via Zoom over the holidays, and when it came time to do a virtual performance of “Surfin’ USA,” Mila found she enjoyed how “it allowed the classroom to come and play together when the pandemic kept them apart.” In addition to her musical talents, Assistant Superintendent Monika Hazel observed Mila demonstrate her leadership skills by helping others in her small group with tips on playing chords correctly, strumming techniques, and getting everyone to play their ukuleles together more collaboratively.
In addition to the funding of ukuleles, the VAPA Foundation also supports honor concerts, cluster festivals, and targets specific art education needs. Programs such as these have enabled students across the district to develop academically, be recognized for their talents, and be served by local organizations committed to transformative arts learning. For example, the VAPA Foundation partnered with Blick Art Materials for their Give and Get Holiday Art Supply Drive for the benefit of SDUSD students.
In recognition of these students, the VAPA foundation is excited to announce its live Spotlight Event on June 5th, 2021 at the La Jolla Music Society’s Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center which will be co-chaired by VAPA board president Doreen Schonbrun and board member Phyllis Epstein. It will be one of very first live galas in the wake of the pandemic and there will be performances by our communities most talented and award-winning dance, theater, and music students. The evening will also include art auctions, art exhibits and lots of surprises. Students from three SDUSD culinary institutes will be working backstage and showing off their expertise under the mentorship of Giuseppe Catering.
The foundation would not be where it is today if not for the outstanding leadership of its board of trustees including San Diego Arts Commissioner for Arts and Culture Doreen Schonbrun, as well as Secretary/Treasurer and VAPA Director for SDUSD Russ Sperling. Doreen and Russ have dedicated their lives to have art education for every child in every classroom. Thanks to their combined efforts, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has sponsored the organization with $100,000 for three years straight, Price Charities has funded the Rainforest Art Project’s mural program, and The Something Sweet Shop has given in-kind donations.
It may still be a while before site-based learning returns, however the VAPA Foundation’s work does not cease. By supporting the Spotlight Event, the community provides a substantial impact on the active learning and deepening artistic connections of SDUSD students.
To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, please contact Michael Angelo Camacho at VAPA at (619) 565-8301.

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Esteban Villanueva