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The Big Lift Staffer Reflects on Helping Students Find Inspiration

In 2019, The Big Lift Inspiring Summers program served 1,200 students — from rising kindergartners through second-graders — in San Mateo County, helping to improve literacy throughout the county and preventing summer learning loss. The four-week program included seven participating school districts and depended on a team of nine site principals, 18 coaches, 100 credentialed teachers and 175 college-aged interns. 

The Big Lift is a collaboration of the County of San Mateo, the San Mateo County Office of Education and Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The initiative is focused on literacy, reducing chronic absence and summer learning loss, and engaging families and the broader community to support both home and school learning.

The Big Lift also received a vital infusion of funding in summer 2019. The County of San Mateo had provided $20 million in funding from Measure K, a voter-approved sales tax—and in June 2019 the Board of Supervisors allocated an additional $15.4 million in Measure K funds to support The Big Lift for two more years, from July 2019 through June 2021. 

One of The Big Lift’s dedicated staff members was Brianna German, who worked as an Inspiring Summers coach in South San Francisco, as a library assistant with San Mateo County Libraries and who is also a Silicon Valley Community Foundation scholarship recipient! We connected with Brianna to learn more about her work with The Big Lift, her interest in education, and her career aspirations. See what she had to say below.


SVCF and its partners (some of whom are pictured above) are grateful to be able to continue the work of The Big Lift.
We interviewed Big Lift staffer Brianna German in 2019:


SVCF: Hi, Brianna! How long have you worked with The Big Lift? What is the most rewarding part of the job? How would you describe Inspiring Summers?

Brianna: I’ve worked for The Big Lift for three spectacular summers! My role is San Mateo County library coach. I supervise and guide the college interns who facilitate engaging learning activities and experiments with our scholars. I support our coaches in classroom activities and help handle behavioral issues.

SVCF: Tell us more about the Inspiring Summers program.

Brianna: Inspiring Summers is a full-circle program where scholars are provided with new opportunities to learn and families are provided opportunities to be more engaged in their child’s education. The curriculum focuses on literacy and STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, art and math). The Big Lift day begins with breakfast and community time in the cafeteria, followed by reading, writing and literacy during the morning and STEAM curriculum in the afternoon. Inspiring Summers opens up the minds of the students and families to try new challenges, and even once summer camp is over, the students I see at the library remain open to learning and discovery.

SVCF: What are you studying in school? What are your goals for the future?

Brianna: I currently attend Skyline Community College and I am studying elementary education. I am interested in becoming a teacher and it is my goal to change the lives of students by helping them see that it doesn’t matter what type of background you come from — as long as you work hard and try your best, you can accomplish anything. I was really fortunate to have certain teachers in my life who helped me see my potential, especially during my junior and senior years of high school. They remain some of my greatest friends and role models to this day. I want to become a teacher who encourages students while they are young. I hope I can be a teacher who they remember each year, and who can inspire them to persevere through challenges. 

SVCF: Besides your connection to SVCF through The Big Lift, you’re also a SVCF scholarship recipient! How did you learn about SVCF’s scholarship program, and what has your experience been?

Brianna: I heard about SVCF’s Marie A. Calderilla Scholarship from an email sent to education students at Skyline Community College. Receiving my first big scholarship has been a beautiful experience. When I got the news, I cried tears of joy because I was so proud of myself! Receiving this scholarship reassured me that teaching is what I’m meant to do, and that all the work I’ve done and opportunities I’ve had will all help me become an outstanding, educated leader. I feel like I’m on the right path! I would definitely encourage other students to apply! Every little bit counts, and I am honored and grateful to be a recipient.

A staff member from SVCF's Center for Early Learning works with Big Lift students.


allocated to support The Big Lift in 2019 (through June 30, 2021) by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors


students participated in The Big Lift’s Inspiring Summers program in 2019
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