Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

Pick up the phone for PIE

The 30-year-old volunteer-run nonprofit has pivoted to fund more than 40 projects for the schools.

For more than 100 island youth, including the two girls pictured here, the glory of a long summer read was made possible by a 2020 Partners in Education (PIE) grant to Chautauqua Elementary School reading support specialist Jennifer Salisbury.

The grant provided 62 students in grades K, 2 and 3 with a summer reading packet containing three fiction and three non-fiction books. Another 20 students in grades 1 received 24 nonfiction phonics readers, and 20 students in grades 4 and 5 received a $20 gift certificate to Vashon Bookshop.

The grant is just one example of PIE’s nimbleness during 2020 to fulfill its mission to support teachers and students with funding for special projects. This spring, the 30-year-old volunteer-run nonprofit quickly pivoted to fund more than 40 projects that supplied at-home art supplies, new library books, virtual field trips and other innovative learning experiences to augment online learning.

In its 2019-2020 funding cycle, the group also helped support Vashon Artists in Schools projects as well as equity initiatives including programs for gender non-conforming and LGBTQ kids, anti-bias education materials, and even the performance of a play about civil rights at McMurray Middle School.

Now, it is islanders’ turn to do something: pick up the phone for PIE’s old-fashioned, pandemic-proof phonathan — a time-honored and socially distant annual tradition on Vashon. Since 1987, islanders have donated more than $1.35 million and helped PIE fund 1,350 grants.

Matching gifts and contributions to PIE’s endowment fund can also be made, and gifts can be designated in honor of the person of a donor’s choice.

Much is on the line this year, said PIE President Karen Boyle. In September, she said, teachers from all grade levels at VISD submitted 14 grant requests to PIE, with requests for funding topping $21,000. PIE will consider these grants this week, so that teachers can get materials into their classrooms soon.

Most of the grants, said Boyle, were for materials to provide hands-on experiences to supplement the online learning in math, science, art and other subjects. School librarians also asked to expand their e-book and online magazine collections, she said.

The organization will have two more grant deadlines on Oct. 15 and Nov. 15 to process grants submitted by many other teachers.

This year’s phonathon will be held the week of October 12. More information can be found and donations can also be made at

— Elizabeth Shepherd

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