When Benicia’s RIX Industries supported Andrea Jenest’s Oceanography class project at Benicia High School, it was a natural fit for the company. RIX has a 135-year history of manufacturing innovative products that serve NASA and the U.S. Navy, among others. Their grant enabled students to build their own naval-inspired SeaPerch underwater robots, in collaboration with engineers at the California Maritime Academy. Unknown at the time, this connection sparked an idea that could boost the giving culture in Benicia schools for years to come.

It’s called b-Cubed. The pilot program is a collaboration between Benicia Unified School District, Benicia Education Foundation and local businesses, to directly support innovative K-12 classroom projects.  

Modeled loosely on the national web-based DonorsChoose.org initiative, b-Cubed focuses more on local business connections, offering them a vehicle to choose from a range of tangible classroom projects that are meaningful to them, and easy to support.  

“We are in this amazing community with so many resources and this project connects those resources with our teachers and their innovative work,” says Marie Morgan, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, who has been instrumental in building the program and coined the name b-Cubed.  “Our students will benefit the most.”

Lisa Koenen, President of the Benicia Education Foundation, agrees: “The BEF is excited to partner on b-Cubed as it directly reflects our mission to provide community-based support for our schools, in pursuit of excellence and innovation in the classroom.”  

At the heart of b-Cubed is the opportunity to tell the stories of passionate teachers and students who transcend the walls of their classrooms—and the generous businesses that support them. All projects are approved by site administrators, and range in cost from $500 to $2,000. Many will serve students for multiple years.

In its pilot phase, b-Cubed is starting with five classroom projects:

Makerspace at Liberty High School   These continuation students may face difficult life challenges, but their teacher Nicci Nunes keeps them on the leading edge. She is requesting funds for Raspberry Pi computer technology that will help prepare students for careers of the future.
Robots Invade Benicia High   The new engineering teacher, Andreas Kaiser, needs robotics kits so students can build, program and modify their own robots to do a series of tasks, including playing competitive soccer.   

World History Cold War Simulation   Each year, high school students immerse themselves in an unforgettable citywide simulation designed by Teacher of the Year Edward Coyne, who has them cracking nuclear codes to survive the learning experience.
21st Century Mathematics    Carleen Maselli’s high school students will finally understand how mathematics applies to the real world. Through dynamic software and chrome books, her students will experience project-based learning that gives their work meaning and builds confidence.

Listening to Books Brings Reading to Life   Three first grade teachers at Robert Semple are requesting support for listening centers in each classroom that serve the needs of all learners. Listening to fluent reading creates equal access to favorite literature, and develops listening and speaking skills that last a lifetime.  

With an enthusiastic show of support, RIX Industries has committed to funding two of these b-Cubed projects, and is confident other businesses will rise to the challenge.  
 “The team at RIX Industries knows the value of education and the doors it opens in the minds of students,” says Dana Otterson, Strategic Resource Development lead at RIX Industries. “We are so proud of Benicia students and want to continue to encourage innovative thinking. Innovation is a big push for RIX and we are excited to see the growth that comes from these unique classroom projects.”

For more information about b-Cubed please visit www.beniciaeducationfoundation.org, www.beniciaunified.org or email arockwell@beniciaunified.org