Giving Compass' Take:

• Kristin Dizon shares the story of how a $400 grant to provide multicultural books for children in a diverse classroom made an impact. 

• How can funders identify opportunities for a small grant to make an impact? 

• Learn about right-sizing your philanthropy

In the scheme of things, a $400 grant is small. But sometimes, like a pebble’s ripple effect through water, its impact can be mighty.

That’s what Seattle Foundation philanthropist Cherry Banks experienced when she gave a grant to a teacher at Challenger Elementary school in Everett. First grade teacher Nardos Habtemicael was finishing a master’s in education and was taking a class with Banks, a professor in the School of Educational Studies at the University of Washington Bothell.

Students in the class on effectively using multicultural literature were asked to assess their school libraries to see what kids were asking for and checking out, then to write a proposal to fill those needs. Habtemicael came up with a plan to increase the collection of multicultural picture books that show and reflect diverse characters and experiences.

It was supposed to be just a classroom exercise, but Habtemicael mentioned to Banks that she wanted to follow through and implement her proposal. So, Banks went beyond the usual teacher-student interaction and wrote a check to support adding 22 multicultural books to Challenger’s library.

Banks is impressed with how Habtemicael took her grant and created positive ripples. “It can mean all the world to a child. It means that the people you hopefully look up to can see you. And, it can be tremendously positive for teachers to talk about something and hold up a book for their students with pictures and subjects that look like them.”

Habtemicael has ordered a second wave of books for the library with support from her school. And, with the principal’s backing, she gave a presentation to the Mukilteo School Board and is now expanding her effort to other schools in the district to aid them in diversifying their library materials.

That one $400 grant is blossoming into so much more.

Read the full article about the power of small grants by Kristin Dizon at Seattle Foundation.