As the largest city in a region world-famous for its wines, Napa exemplifies the beauty, abundance and disparity of California. Many adult residents hold multiple, low-paying jobs in viniculture, hospitality and related sectors.
From 2006 to 2015, Cowell made 30 place-based grants in the McPherson neighborhood, near downtown Napa. At that time, close to 90% of the 650 students at McPherson Elementary School were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches and more than 65% were classified as English Learners.
Grants helped to develop the Neighborhood Initiative, spearheaded by On the Move, a local nonprofit, in collaboration with school and school district leaders. Together, the Neighborhood Initiative partners are committed to lift expectations and increase equity of opportunity for students in neighborhood schools, to improve quality of life for families, youth and children, and to open a diverse, inter-generational pipeline to civic engagement and organizational leadership.
Since 2015, the Neighborhood Initiative has expanded to students and families at five neighborhood schools where working-class, mainly Latino families are concentrated. It now encompasses three family resource centers, in-school and after-school youth leadership programs, and academic support programs that link and align the efforts of elementary, middle and high schools. The scope and focus of Cowell grants also has expanded; through 2023, our investment comprised 63 grants totaling $8.4 million.