During our first decade, the Foundation made a few grants each year to support needy Bidwell students and families. Gym clothes, school supplies, clothing, and bus passes are just a few of the items granted. The Foundation has also granted many backpacks due to the fact that Bidwell no longer has any student lockers.
In 2016, an anonymous donor gave a large sum to the North Valley Community Foundation, who in turn created the Chico Childrens' Endowment Fund with the sole purpose of supporting local youth in need. Because the number of Bidwell's disadvantaged students continued to grow and we found we were lacking the funds to meet their needs, Foundation Treasurer, Mike Christensen, applied to NVCF for a portion of these monies. We received an initial grant of $4,500 in 2016 and have continued to receive grants in this same manner for a total of $30,500.
The global pandemic and California wildfires have increased the number of students needing assistance. We have greatly expanded our efforts to assist these students with our Project Success.
In 2018, the Paradise Camp Fire affected us all here in Chico, including Bidwell Junior High School whose enrollment increased by approximately 60 Paradise students. Some of these families came off the hill with their cars and little else but the clothes they were wearing.
As with Project Success, the North Valley Community Foundation set up a Camp Fire Fund. BJHSF Treasurer, Mike Christensen, applied for and we received a total of $8,900 over a two year period to specifically help students affected by this disaster. We were able to help these folks, some who lost everything. Our assistance involved similar Project Success items with the addition of grocery and gasoline gift cards to meet some immediate needs.
In 2011, the Bidwell Pioneer Band ceased to exist. A few years earlier, the CUSD Board had dropped the elementary instrumental music program and by 2011 there were almost no incoming instrumentalists enrolling at Bidwell. The result was that there were not enough musicians to form a band, so the class was dropped. The Pleasant Valley Band was also slated to be dropped because there would be no incoming musicians from Bidwell.
Your BJHSF Board found the situation to be unacceptable and searched for ways to revive the Pioneer Band and continue its tradition of excellence. In cooperation with school administration, we were able to have P.V. Band Man, Dan Holmes, instruct 6th and 7th graders as part of an existing after-school program.
Many of the old band’s instruments had been given away or were in disrepair, so in 2014 we granted $2,000 to the emerging band and canvased the public for instrument donations. The Band was able to purchase sheet music and equipment. The Chico Community Band also donated sheet music.
Board member, Ann Castle, contacted the Discovery Shoppe and submitted an application for funding the revival of the Pioneer Band. The Bidwell band instructor, Ryan Heimlich, made a well-received presentation to the Discovery Shoppe which resulted in a $10,000 grant for the Bidwell Band. With all that community support and the hard work of Ryan Heimlich and the new Bidwell band instructor, Tanner Johns, as well as other staff members, The Band Played On. So did the Pleasant Valley Band which once more was to receive ninth grade musicians from the junior high schools. Both bands are going strong today despite being temporarily interrupted by the pandemic. You could say the community banded together and we were instrumental in making it the day the music lived (again).