Seed funding increases access to WCCUSD school board race

Community panel will interview candidates, grant up to $10,000 each to launch viable campaigns

UPDATE: The Education Matters Community Panel is no longer accepting requests to interview for seed funding. Please visit our Elections 2018 page for updates about candidates and issues related to the November election. 

To increase access for candidates who may not have major endorsements or sizable warchests, the Education Matters Community Panel will convene this August to consider granting seed funding to promising candidates to kickstart their WCCUSD School Board campaigns.

The Community Panel offers each participating candidate the chance to receive up to $10,000 in advance of the August 10 filing deadline.

Education Matters launched its Community Panel in 2016 to improve access for emerging school board candidates whose leadership potential may surpass their ability to cover filing fees and ignite the early support and visibility that is critical to a successful campaign.

“We need to have candidates that are from our community, but that does not usually happen because candidates from the community often don’t have the funds they need to run a successful campaign,” said returning panelist Tana Monteiro, who participated in the first Education Matters Community Panel in 2016.

Monteiro, a long-time parent organizer and mother of four boys who attend schools in West Contra Costa, was among a dozen community panelists who convened during the 2016 school board election cycle to determine which candidates should receive seed funding. 

As it did during the previous election cycle, the panel brings together a diverse cross-section of educators, advocates, and community leaders who share a commitment to supporting leaders who will drive growth and achievement for all West Contra Costa students. 

“I want to see more parents run, more people of color run, more people from Central Richmond and San Pablo run, and those are the people who would greatly benefit from the seed funding,”  Monteiro said.


The Education Matters Community Panel evaluates candidates based on their written responses to a pre-interview questionnaire, their in-person responses during individual interviews, and their record in the community. 

Using a rubric that articulates the characteristics of an effective, ethically sound, and visionary school board member, panelists will offer support to candidates whom they believe will set high standards, focus on student growth and achievement, show commitment to issues of educational equity, and maintain the financial health of the district. 

Following each candidate interview, the panelists deliberate before each casts a yes or no vote based on their review of the candidate’s strengths, qualifications, and character. A simple majority of panelists determines whether each candidate is awarded seed funding. At its discretion, the panel can provide seed funds to all of the participating candidates, or to none at all. 

The 2016 Community Panel interviewed five candidates, two of whom (Miriam Siquiera and Tom Panas) ultimately secured seed funding. 

This year’s declared candidates (as of July 16) include Anthony Caro, Vanessa Calloway, Madeline Kronenberg, and Carlos Taboada. All will be invited to participate in the Education Matters endorsement process, as will those who formally declare their candidacy by Thursday, July 19.

The Education Matters seed funding process is open to all active candidates who have filed or intend to file before the deadline, regardless of their platform or positions, their status as challengers or incumbents, their neighborhood, their history of running or holding political office, or their likelihood of success. 

For Monteiro, participating on the Community Panel is a chance to ask the candidates some tough questions that matter for members of her community. 

“I look forward to hearing about the projects, organizations, parent meetings, committees that they have been a part of and what their successes were thus far in serving their community,” Monteiro said. 

“It is my duty,” Monteiro continued, “to find and support the best candidates possible, candidates that are about students first, will be transparent, and accountable.”

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