In 1990 the Foundation began awarding various types of grants to classroom teachers to assist with instructional strategies to increase student learning outcomes. This process was refined and formalized in 1995 and was designated as the Pyramid Awards. Teachers were encouraged to develop innovative projects by introducing unique, new or different instructional methods designed to actively involve students in the learning process and increase student learning. Another criteria for these teacher developed projects was student engagement, which encourages hands-on, active learning and is likely to cause a high level of interest and involvement among students.
These teacher submitted projects have always been rated by a panel of OCEF Board members and other non-school affiliated community members using a rigorous scoring criteria. The projects must receive a certain scoring level before a Pyramid Award grant is given. The award may be as much as $1,000 per grant and can be used for instructional materials, equipment, partial stipends for guest instructors, and partial admission costs to community resources. Non-allowable expenditures for Pyramid Award funds include transportation costs, consumable items and teacher stipends.
Over the years, OCEF has awarded over $278,000 to 450 teachers through the Pyramid Awards program. This year, 23 teachers' proposals were selected for Pyramid Award funding and more than $22,000 is being distributed to these teachers.