Vapa foundation san diego 4

Creating Arts Education Experiences

As the San Diego District 1 Art Commissioner, artist, collector, philanthropist and teacher of art and art history for at risk children, Doreen Schonbrun has spent decades dedicating her time, talent, and passion to helping the needy and underserved children in our community. Today as president of the VAPA Foundation Board of Directors, Doreen is on a mission to improve the lives of our young people, applying her heart and soul to assure these children can express themselves through the gift of art, music, dance, theater, and the fine arts. Doreen feels that an education infused with the arts transforms the lives of young people in profound ways.

The VAPA Foundation supports the San Diego Unified School District teachers and thousands of students, creating in-depth arts education experiences in every classroom of every San Diego city school. The foundation accomplishes this through a variety of programs, including the VAPA Enhancement Program, which enables TK-12 SDUSD teachers to apply for VAPA-related artist residencies, field trips, professional development or materials that go beyond the school budget; honor concerts that enable students to audition, collaborate, and play together for the community in professional settings; recognizing students, teachers, administrators and community members who are committed to creating, teaching, and supporting arts education and creating bridges between SDUSD and the host of local artists and organizations committed to transformative arts learning.

“I have always believed that exposure to the arts is essential to the wellbeing of every child,” Schonbrun shared with GB Magazine. “Art creates joy, self-esteem, and allows for self-expression which is essential for these developing young minds.”

On April 10th, the VAPA Foundation will hold its third annual Spotlight event, Beyond Brilliance, a first of its kind event which will support the arts in the San Diego Unified School District and showcase the tremendous talents of visual and performing artists enrolled in the SDUSD. Co-chaired by Doreen Schonbrun and Phyllis Epstein, the event will be held at The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center and will honor Pradeep Khosla, Chancellor of the University of California San Diego and VAPA’S leading sponsor. Khosla will be honored for his support and partnership on many levels, including helping with the training of teachers. The fabulous event will include a patron cocktail reception, culinary bites and drinks, pop-up entertainment, magnificent performances, and a live auction in the Baker Baum Concert Hall. Desserts, drinks and live jazz will also be served in the JAI.

Within the first five years of funding, the VAPA Foundation has made a significant impact through its Enhancement Awards Program, granting over $130,000 to create enhanced arts education projects at SDUSD schools, recognizing more than 91 SDUSD teachers with awards. Nearly 7,000 SDUSD students have been served through projects including interactive field trips, artist residencies, professional development for teachers, and the purchase of equipment and musical instruments. Thanks to generous local donations and grants, the funding rounds of the VAPA grants impact thousands of students.

For more information, to make a donation or to purchase tickets for the event, contact Michael Camacho, Executive Director at (858) 256-2700 or visit

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Esteban Villanueva