About EPAK

About EPAK

We are a community-based organization 
giving grants directly to teachers.

OUR COMMUNITY

Nestled within the heart of Silicon Valley, there is a stark difference in the 13 schools we fund compared with neighboring schools in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Portola Valley and Woodside. Our students are challenged by overwhelming socioeconomic pressures and the schools are underfunded with low teacher salaries and high turnover rates. 

OUR VISION

For generations, education has been the path for children to rise above their economic circumstances.  Our vision is based on narrowing the equality gap in education by providing grants directly to teachers so their students can have the same opportunities as children in neighboring communities.

OUR STORY

Founded in 1993, we are an all-volunteer organization with a record of granting over 93% of funds raised directly to teachers in the 13 eastern Menlo Park and East Palo Alto public and charter schools we serve. We have funded more than 5,000 teacher-led projects.


We believe geography is not destiny. All children should have access to the best education possible. The demographics illustrate how every donation matters in a community where 7 out of 10 students are English learners and 4 out of 10 students are homeless or housing insecure.

Won’t you join us?

“I joined the board when I left teaching because I know firsthand how instrumental EPAK funding was for my students.” 


Our Schools


Our Team

A striking testament to the power of our mission—nearly 40% of the EPAK’s all-volunteer Board are former educators in the Ravenswood City School District.

Officers

Karen Ross is the Registered Dietitian for HeartFit for Life, a cardiac rehabilitation program in south Palo Alto. For many years, she taught nutrition classes at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Karen loves volunteering in the community. She was President of the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid-Peninsula, the Hidden Villa Board of Trustees, and the Palo Alto Community Fund. She was also on the Board of Directors of Avenidas, and was involved in leadership in SCAN (Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists), a practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has a BS from Purdue University, and a MA from San Jose State.

Stacy Arevalo has been at Eastside College Preparatory School since 2006, where she teaches American Literature and Senior Research Institute. She is committed to the transformative power of education, having seen how access to enriching opportunities empowers students, their families, and their community. Other interests include advocating for racial and immigrant justice, reading, and connecting with others in East Palo Alto, where she and her husband live. She is also a founding board member of Spark Church in Palo Alto, where she organizes peaceful protests, learning seminars, and volunteer events for the community.

Nisha Pillai wants to live in a world where all children have access to quality education, everyone has time to read all the books they want to, and distance running doesn’t lead to aches and pains. She currently spends most of her time volunteering, running, and answering a million variations of “but why?” from her children. She has spent 15+ years in the tech industry as a product manager, strategy consultant, and software developer. She holds a B.Tech in Computer Science from the University of Kerala and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Henning Heine is currently a Principal at Centerview Partners, an independent investment banking and strategic advisory firm. As a founding member of its Technology practice in Palo Alto, he has nearly 10 years of experience advising its clients on transformative transactions. Prior to Palo Alto, he was based in the firm’s London and New York offices.

He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from the European Business School in Germany.

Outside of work he serves as a career development mentor for City Year volunteers in San Jose, and is part of the Asia Society’s Northern California Young Leader’s Group.

Jeannine Marston taught history and English at Castilleja School In Palo Alto for many years and supported the diversity work and goals of its ACE Center (Awareness, Compassion, Engagement). She has participated in SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) workshops, Facing History, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute. Her multi-year commitment to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy teachers’ summer institute has contributed to her belief in the importance of education in the development of human capital. She enthusiastically endorses EPAK’s goal to support teachers in their essential work. “Teachers know best what they and their students need to succeed. I am honored to work with EPAK to make this achievement possible.” She holds BA and MA degrees in education from the University of Michigan.

Ellen M. Jones recently retired from UBS Financial Services after nearly 40 years in financial management for high net worth individuals. After majoring in American Intellectual History at Radcliffe College, Ellen attended graduate school at U.C. Berkeley and then worked as an economic analyst for American Airlines. After taking some time off to raise her children, she returned to work as a high school teacher at Menlo School in Atherton before beginning a her career in the financial services industry. After living in Menlo Park for over 50 years, in 2018, she moved to San Francisco to be closer to her family. Ellen has three children and seven grandchildren. She enjoys hiking, reading and playing competitive bridge.

Renee C. Scott is the Director of Early Education for Education Partnerships at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. In partnership with the Stanford Graduate School of Education she teaches the courses and oversees programming for two service-learning programs, in partnership with East Palo Alto after school organizations. Renee has been an educator for over 20 years, having served as an elementary school teacher, a professional development teacher-leader, and a teacher-candidate supervisor. As a graduate student, she studied the role of vision in new teacher development, word-reading instruction, and tutoring. She is certified in Reading Recovery, holds a Master’s degree in Education, and a Ph.D. in Literacy, Curriculum, and Teacher Education from Stanford University. In her free time, she consults for ed-tech orgs on early childhood curriculum and spends time hiking and traveling with her family.

Board Members

Lara Burenin has been a teacher and literacy coach in East Palo Alto and Oakland, and is currently the Director of Curriculum & Instruction in the Ravenswood City School District. She began working in Ravenswood during college as a reading tutor, which inspired her to become a teacher. She is honored to have been serving in the community over the past 16 years. Lara is passionate about helping Ravenswood students foster a love of reading and writing, and supporting teachers with instruction across the content areas.

Harmony Hayes taught middle school in Ravenswood City School District for 15 years before becoming an English teacher at East Palo Alto Academy High School in 2018.

They currently teach English to sophomores and juniors and advise students in the lower house (9th and 10th grade). Harmony is passionate about creating equitable school systems and educational experiences for our historically marginalized student populations. They believe in the power and importance of literacy and providing our students with literature that showcases diverse and representative voices and experiences. They model their love for literacy and literature in their own life as an avid reader and facilitator of a local and online book club.

Nancy Kerrebrock is a retired 15-year-veteran middle school math and science teacher in the Ravenswood City School District. The recipient of dozens of EPAK grants during her teaching career, she knows personally how valuable EPAK’s support is to the students and staff in Ravenswood. She is grateful to have the opportunity, through EPAK and through volunteering in the schools, to continue to be a member of the rich, vibrant Ravenswood community.

Courtney Schmit has worked in the financial services industry for the past 10 years at mutual funds in Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and is currently a Registered Client Service Associate at UBS Financial Services in Palo Alto. She is excited to become part of EPAK and help support the students and teachers in this community. She holds a B.A. in Economics from California State University, Sacramento. During her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with family.

Jenna Wachtel Pronovost has been part of the EPAK board since 2011. She has taught in both East Palo Alto and Palo Alto and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Ravenswood Education Foundation. Jenna is passionate about addressing systemic issues of school funding inequities and is an enthusiastic supporter and advocate for EPAK!

Erin Wakshlag is a resident of East Palo Alto and has been serving the community for the past 11 years as a teacher, reading interventionist, and Literacy and English Language Development Coordinator for Ravenswood City School District. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies degree and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University. She trained as a Reading Recovery Teacher through St Mary’s College of CA and completed an Administrative Services Credential and Master of Arts in Education degree from UC Berkeley Principal Leadership Institute. Erin is passionate about the children, families, educators, and leaders she serves in Ravenswood and is focused on providing them the support they need to achieve the best in education.


Sponsors

  • Apple Matching
  • The Callison Foundation
  • Tasha Castañeda
  • Anne D and Walter B Clark
  • Deacon Charitable Foundation
  • The Doering Family Foundation
  • Kingston and Liz Schwerer Duffie
  • Anna Maria Zara and Robert English
  • First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Mark A Goldsmith and Anne Midler
  • Google Matching Gifts Program
  • Melvin and Geraldine Hoven Foundation
  • Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation
  • Kinder Morgan Foundation
  • Los Altos Town Crier Holiday Fund
  • Los Altos Rotary
  • Tacy Witter and Jeff Mayer
  • Bill McFarland
  • Palo Alto Community Fund
  • Palo Alto Medical Foundation
  • Palo Alto Rotary Club Annual Charities Inc
  • Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund
  • Sitaram Iyer and Nisha Pillai
  • Raghib Family Foundation
  • David and Elizabeth Rome
  • The Scandling Family Foundation
  • Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation

EPAK promotes educational opportunities for public and charter school students in eastern Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. Founded in 1993, we are a private, 501(c)3 non-profit foundation; all donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. 

We accept applications from teachers of pre-school through 12th grade twice a year—fall and winter. Click here for more information.