There’s nothing like a little time under quarantine to remind you how reliant you are on others. While manufacturing your own toilet paper probably isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of things you can do to make your family more self-sufficient and less dependent upon outside sources for things like power, water, and food.
Lighting It Up
Thankfully, the novel coronavirus hasn’t stopped the utility companies from providing electricity, but during a natural disaster such as an earthquake, loss of power is a real possibility and California’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs will likely be more common as the state’s fire risk grows. How can you keep the lights on when PG&E shuts things down? Installing solar is the first step in becoming energy independent, but the options can be confusing and complicated. Do you lease? Buy? What happens when it’s cloudy or rainy?
Residents of Contra Costa County are eligible to enroll in Bay Area Sun Shares, a program that harnesses the power of community to help participants make the change to solar by pooling buying power. Registration is open from August to November each year and offers not only discounts on panels, batteries and cars, but also vetted contractors and independent third-party advice on making the switch.
SolarReviews can answer many of the questions you may have about using sun power. An independent comparison website, the website is a good place to do research and begin the planning process. Use their drawing tool to see how many panels you could fit on your home and to figure out what kind of system is best for you.
When shopping for solar, make sure to choose a company that’s been certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. If you truly want to keep things powered up in an emergency, you’ll need not only panels, but home energy storage system such as the Tesla Powerwall, Powerpack or their equivalent. Local, highly rated companies such as Sol R Us in Walnut Creek and Oakland’s Save a Lot Solar will not only help you with purchase and installation, but can explain rebates and tax benefits such as the federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit and the state’s Self-Generation Incentive Program.
The state is now providing incentives to homeowners who choose “electrification”, transitioning their home appliances and heating/cooling systems from gas to electric. Read about one local family’s process converting their home at sustainablelafayette.org. Interested in making the change yourself? Concord’s Eco Performance Builders, featured in Sustainable Lafayette’s blog, can help you figure out the best solution for you.
In addition to making you more energy independent, you’ll be helping the environment by decreasing carbon emissions, lessening coal consumption and decreasing water use while increasing the value of your home. Though the cost of going solar continues to drop annually, installing solar panels can add over 4% to the value of your property.
If solar’s not in the budget but you still want to be prepared for a power outage, pick up a generator and a store of propane. Popular Mechanics has a lineup of portable units between $400.00 and $2000.00 to keep your home up and running in the event of a shutoff. Make sure you know how to use the generator before things go dark and to keep it outside as far away from the house as possible to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Closer to home, local dad’s company, Rack n Road sells a ‘Ready Light’ that, if ordered, he’ll deliver to your doorstep (choose San Rafael store for communication). Ready Light is totally solar, light-weight and the corners pop off for four individual flashlights - awesome for camping, too!
Water, Water Everywhere
One of the most difficult hurdles in the process of making your family less dependent is finding a consistent source of water. Visit Contra Costa County’s Rainwater Harvesting 101 page for resources and information about above and below ground cisterns and other water catchment systems. Even if you’re not ready to turn off the supply from EBMUD, you’ll find plenty of good ideas for rainwater capture that can help keep your garden green during the next drought.
Feeding The People
Lamorinda has a great climate for backyard gardening. To ensure that your soil is right for fruits and veggies and protect your yield from predators, it’s best to build or purchase raised beds. While there are many tips online for constructing your own using wood, the less handy among us may prefer to purchase them pre-made from local nurseries or garden websites. If you have back problems, you may want to choose elevated beds for easier access and maintenance.
Local gardeners also recommend stock tank water tanks or cattle feed bins for those not into DIY. If you choose to go this direction, make sure to drill holes in the bottom so your roots don’t sit in water and line with burlap to avoid losing soil. Other options include using premade metal garden beds or tower gardens (one local mom is known for selling these and being very knowledgeable!) for space saving vertical planting indoors or out. Contact Anna to purchase a tower garden and find out more about how they can help provide fresh produce for your family.
The current shelter-in place doesn’t need to put a damper on getting seedlings in the ground, with most nurseries around town offering pick-up service. Call or email McDonnell Nursery to make your purchases and then have them deliver or stop by to grab your order. Though temporarily overwhelmed by eager gardeners, Lafayette’s Orchard Nursery is back to business, accepting orders on their website for curbside pick-up.
If you’re not keen to hand water your new plants, you may be able to tap into your existing irrigation system for your new garden or, consider the ancient method of Ollas, unglazed clay or terracotta pots buried between plants and filled periodically with water to keep the soil moist.
Whatever you choose, start seedlings in compostable egg cartons, empty toilet paper rolls or eggshells and transplant them into your gardening beds when spring rolls around. Peas can be placed in water to sprout before going in the ground. Still not patient enough? Many local nurseries carry 4” starts for veggies like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and cucumbers that can be planted directly without the wait.
For those who don’t need a garden overflowing with vegetables but would love a few fresh cherry tomatoes every now and then in the summer, consider planting a few starts in terracotta pots in a sunny spot. Surround plants with a grow cages to give them a place to climb and be sure to water frequently.
Looking for more information about gardening? Check out our post “Taking it Out Back” to find resources for native plants, gardening clubs, nurseries and hardscaping supplies. Orchard Nursery’s bedding experts are also available to help answer specific questions you might have about getting started with your raised beds or visit their blog covering all types of horticulture. To stay in the seasonal know, log onto Orinda’s McDonell Nursery’s website for a round-up of monthly tips and find out the best time to sow, plant, fertilize and harvest.
That's So Eggstra
To get the skinny on raising hens, visit our article, “What the Cluck?” where you’ll find best poultry practices and advice from local experts on keeping happy, healthy chickens.
Now, about that cow…
We all love “the Coop” but, what it meant to anyone in town prior to the days of ‘shelter in place’ (a nickname for local restaurant and watering hole “The Cooperage”) was not what it soon would mean. It would literally mean “chicken coops”. And, while there has always been a healthy “what the cluck?” contingent of people in the Lamorinda area, questions skyrocketed about how to become more self-sufficient in small, easy ways - and one of those ways proved to be chickens, eggs, and all that come with them.
The great baking boom of 2020’s coronavirus outbreak has left many of us without a source for eggs and gazing longingly at our neighbor’s hens. Before you get all foxy and start stealing from other people’s coops, consider the interesting and very productive hobby of chicken keeping. Raising egg-laying hens has become a popular suburban past-time and many locals started by taking a class from longtime urban farming expert and local treasure Papa John Kiefer. Since our Shelter in Place rules are restricting Papa John’s in-person classes, visit his site for downloadable information on building coops and keeping chickens: Chickens with Papa John. Another resource is the #1 website in the country for chicken expertise, BackYard Chickens - Learn How to Raise Chickens | BackYard Chickens - Learn How to Raise Chickens which was founded by Bay Area entrepreneur Rob Ludlow. Rob was one of our early community advocates for keeping backyard chickens. These resources will provide all you need to know to prep for chicks, build your coop, and maintain a healthy flock.
If you are looking for a local group of chicken aficionados to engage with around chicken raising tips and inspiration, join the newly formed private FB group CLUCK, an acronym for Citizens of Lamorinda United in Chicken Keeping. If your children are interested in learning about raising chickens, sign your wee ones up for Lamorinda 4-H and join in on the Chicken Project. No need to own your own chickens for this project, but if you want to enjoy the eggs you will most likely re-consider. Sign-ups for 4-H occur in early fall. With so much to offer, you can expand your knowledge of livery extensively by getting involved - but, let’s focus on the ‘meat’ of the article. More resources that are ‘hand clucked’ include: a book called RAISE, What 4-H teaches 7 million kids. The Berkeley writer Kiera Butler wrote about several local 4-H families and what the program means in regard to sustainability and food security.
Is Chicken Keeping even legal? Well, thanks to lobbying by many local chicken lovers, citizens can now keep a certain number of chickens based on parcel size. Before you commit, be sure to read your local ordinances. Click here for Lafayette, here for Orinda and here for Moraga. Most importantly, be a good chicken neighbor and NO ROOSTERS.
Concord Feed has all of your chicken supply needs such as basic coops, feed, watering systems, feeders and such, and remains open during our SIP with reduced hours. They are not selling chicks currently as their hatchery (April 2020) has sold out due to the recent “stress buying” as reported by the New York Times. Cackle Hatchery is still shipping chicks, but with longer lead times than usual.
Finally, we Lamorindan’s love our homes and the same goes for our Chicken Coops. While you are at home “nesting” , get a little Coop inspiration here: Pinterest Coops. If you want a custom designed Hen House, reach out to our local Handymen at Lamorinda Odd jobs, or a search on Nextdoor can point you to others with the skill set to have a custom Coop built.
Owning Chickens is a relatively easy and enjoyable past-time if taken seriously. Happy backyard chickens lay eggs that are nutritious and delicious, PLUS you know where your food is coming from. Go ahead, let your pets make you breakfast! This can be expanded on with data on nutrition comparisons between factory farmed and backyard raised chickens.
Yearning to reduce your reliance on the Grid? More here.
You’re never too young or too old for dancing. Whether you prefer ballroom or ballet, the studios east of the Caldecott are sure to have a class to please anyone 18 months to 80. Looking to samba with your significant other or a spot for your kindergartener to tap her heart out? Tweens want to hip-hop? Grandma want to Foxtrot? These places have got you covered.
Raising the Barre
You don’t have to go far to find a studio for the serious ballerina. CAPA, the California Academy of Performing Arts in Moraga’s Rheem Plaza has Intro to Dance classes for children beginning at age 3. In addition, this well-respected school has an array of jazz, tap and tumbling/acrobatics. Talented, hardworking students may earn a place in one of CAPA’s performing ensembles, ballet company or production groups, members of which are eligible for solos in the school’s June Showcase and winter Nutcracker performances. Many alum of the Academy have been accepted into elite dance programs such as the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, the Boshoi Ballet, Juilliard and the American Ballet Theater.
In addition to continuing programs for kids in ballet, tap and contemporary dance, The Ballet School, offers drop in classes for teens and adults, in Broadway, Zumba and Pilates mat. The school’s training program in ballet begins at age 3.5 and continues through age 20, while contemporary, tap and Broadway run from age 5 to age 11. Tap is open to all levels. Enrolled ballet students participate in two ticketed performances: a June Demonstration showcase, and in the school’s original Once Upon a Christmas show at the Lesher Center for the Arts in December. Looking for a place for the littles to let out their wiggles? The Ballet School has creative dance for children ages 2-3.5 most days. Buy a 10-class punch card and pop into a class whenever the mood strikes.
For an introduction to the medium sign the young ones up for Orinda Ballet Academy’s pre-ballet creative dance. Children will love the princess tea parties, butterfly dances and creative stretching and will engage in creative movement, coordination and basic steps through a curriculum set to classical music. Open to kids beginning at age 3. Older students enrolled in the Performing Class Packages will have the opportunity to take the stage at one of the Academy’s three end of term shows at the Orinda Library Auditorium.
In It To Win It
Future Maddie Zieglers should check out Ace Dance Academy on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Walnut Creek. Ace dancers can get their groove on in tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary and hip hop starting at 3-4 years old. Kids who get their kicks performing for a crowd will feel right at home in the studio’s interdisciplinary Ensemble which shows its stuff at local community events as well as dance competitions around the Bay Area. Aspiring Ensemble members must be at least 7 years old, have a year of dance instruction under their belt and make the cut at the studio’s spring auditions.
Also for those who love the limelight, Dance Fusion Company asks dancers to audition in May for their performance team. Hip hoppers and jazz lovers can take regular classes starting as early as age 5 while tappers must be at least 8 and ballerinas 9. The season of dance culminates for Dance Fusion in a two-night show on the professional stage at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center in the early summer.
Even the smallest ballerinas have a place at Evolution Dance Center Whether you want to tug on the tutu and join in is up to you. With mommy and me classes for toddlers as young as 18 months, this is your chance to take a spin on the dance floor with your favorite little partner. Afraid you’ll fall flat on your face? Not to worry. Let the instructors at Evolution do the teaching while you sip a latte from the comfort of a nice, sturdy chair. Classes for kids include ballet, tap, hip hop, lyrical and musical theater.
From Parent and Me to creative movement and pre-ballet, Kids N’ Dance has the ideal classes to get the littles started beginning at 18 months. With a philosophy that blends creativity and flexibility with a fun introduction to the world of dance, children here are not forced into the typical rigid format of classical ballet study. Their children’s dance company, open to students 6 and up by audition only, integrates jazz, ballet, modern tap and hip hop. Not just for dancers, the studio has a wide range of classes in musical theater, circus arts and Parkour; there’s even a silks class for adults.
Having a Ball
Worried about tripping over your new spouse’s feet during the first dance at your wedding? Hoping to take a spin on the floor with your sweetheart? Arthur Murray in Walnut Creek can teach you the moves in no time. Start with a free private lesson or sign up for one of their wedding classes and they’ll even help you pick some music for the your special day. Looking to get into competitive ballroom dancing but not ready for the big stage? Start small by competing at one of their in-studio practice parties or open houses before moving up to district showcases and then on to Dance O’ Rama, a major exhibition that takes place at different venues in or outside the country. If you simply want to learn ballroom for the fun of it, Arthur Murray also has social dance classes for both young and old. Kids age 5 or older can join in their Youth Jam classes and learn to salsa, samba and tango. Watch out! They might show you up on the dance floor.
Learn to mambo in Lafayette at Sizzling Latin, a dance sport coaching studio on Almanor Lane or surprise your SO with a lesson for date night and learn some salsa or swing. Getting hitched? Book a Wedding Package and learn “jaw dropping choreography” to wow your guests during your first dance. Regular adult classes are available in a wide variety of dance styles, including jive and swing, tango, rumba, bolero and more. For those with bigger ambitions, Sizzling Latin will pair you up with a professional dance partner for events or competitions. Kids pre-K through high school are also welcome at the studio.
Mixing It Up
Moraga’s Joy In Motion has something for everyone. From boys jonesing to hip hop to adults hoping to tap, JiM will make your dreams come true. A full schedule of jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip hop and more make it easy to find what you’re looking for no matter what your age or style. The studio puts on a performance at Miramonte high school each spring where students can show off their skills.
You just want to get your groove on and feel alive? Hipline in Oakland is a quick drive away and a great way to let loose. Sign up for classes or drop in with passes to this woman owned studio only has movement on the menu. Choose from 'Shimmy Pop', 'Power Pop' or 'Stretchy Pop' for the regular classes or pursue a Latin vibe with the Samba-based offerings. Put on something comfortable, step out of the confines of suburbia and let your light shine through at Oakland's chillest dance studio. Once you've stepped firmly into your coolest self, throw some Ecstatic Dance on the menu. Sunday morning 'rave like' atmosphere where hundreds of individuals join together as a supportive community every week to dance wildly and freely in a safe, inspiring and substance-free space. People connect with themselves, spirit and one another through freeform dance and music.
So, your agent found you the perfect house. Furnish your new space in style without breaking the bank by shopping the region’s outlets, discount stores and warehouse sales. Whether you’re a traditionalist or lean toward mid-century modern, it’s easy to fill your home with things you love if you’re willing to venture out to these Bay Area bargain meccas.
Finding Your Outlet
Formerly located on 4th Street in Berkeley, the outlet for Chicago based chain Crate and Barrel now has a location in Livermore. Shop for furniture, rugs and bedding, kitchenware and seasonal goods at low prices. Some items are lightly damaged, while others are simply overstock and in perfect condition. The company also has a Furniture Clearance Center in Tracy, open five days a week, where you can choose from discounted indoor and outdoor furnishings from both their Crate and Barrel and CB2 brands.
Pop through the tunnel to Berkeley’s Serena Lily Outlet. With new stock arriving every day, freshly minted bargains abound on items like rugs, mirrors and both indoor and outdoor furniture from the Marin-based home retailer. Head to the back of the store for bins full of sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases and score bedding to please even the pickiest princess. Hours are limited, so check their website before you go.
Searching for a sofa? Make a day of it and head to the Restoration Hardware Outlet in Vacaville. Discounts on high quality upholstered items as well as headboards, coffee, side and dining tables and outdoor furnishings will make the trip worth your while. Serena and Lily also has an outlet here. As with their Berkeley location, the store is only open 5 days a week, so be sure to confirm their hours.
Hidden away in a warehouse in Union City, The Macy’s Furniture Gallery offers a large assortment of options that won’t put your budget in the red. Need a couch for your study? This is the place for you. Looking for a mattress for the guest room? You can find it here. With mark downs as much as 75-85%, this place can save you some serious cash. But buyer beware: many goods are damaged and are not returnable, so examine your potential purchases thoroughly before committing. If you know you’re ready to buy, bring a truck or van to haul the loot home, or be prepared to pay the full department store fee for delivery. The warehouse is closed Monday and Tuesday, with hours from 11:00-6:00 the rest of the week.
Hayward’s Bay Area Patio and Mattress has a limited assortment of quality furniture including outdoor, dining and living room sets as well as mattresses, headboards and bed frames. With excellent prices, low cost delivery and great customer service, Bay Area Patio can be a good option if you’re in search of decent home furnishings at a discount.
Don’t be deterred by the outside; it’s what’s on the inside that counts at the Dimensional Furniture Outlet. Whether you need a full entertainment center, a desk for your home office or a bunk bed for the kids, this Oakland outlet has what you need at reasonable prices backed by a helpful sales staff. The store will also deliver for a nominal fee.
Though the selection is not huge, there still are bargains to be had at the Terra Outdoor Outlet. Located next to Annie’s Annuals in North Richmond, this outdoor outpost has a small assortment of fire pits, chaise lounges, dining tables and pillows. If you’re looking for a particular item from one of their stores, it might be worth a call to see if they’ve got what you want before making the drive. After you shop the outlet, take a few minutes to browse the huge assortment of plants next door at Annie’s. Despite the name, the nursery also carries a wide variety of well-priced perennials, shrubs, roses, trees and heirlooms.
In search of crocks for the kitchen, bathroom accessories, inexpensive art or colorful pillows? Head to Homegoods in Moraga’s Rheem shopping center. This fully stocked location of the national chain also has fantastic prices on a wide range of goods including lamps, furniture, mirrors and rugs.
Hunting For Treasure
Held the first Saturday of each month, the Alameda Antiques Faire is ideal for scoring vintage home furnishings. Get there early in the morning to make sure you have your pick of the 800 vendors’ one-of-a-kind wares. As you wander the aisles with friends, keep your eyes peeled for that special something that will help your home stand out from the crowd. Don’t miss the indoor warehouses where you can bid on hard-to-find mid-century furniture and other unique pieces you’ll see nowhere else.
Get On The List
Sign up for notifications from Pottery Barn and stay in the know about their warehouse sales, where already discounted furnishings from their catalogs and website are marked down even further. These events are a great for scooping up larger upholstered pieces at a steep discount, though many products are stained and/or otherwise damaged, so be sure to inspect each item carefully. Located in Alameda, the outlet store is open daily. Find sofas, chairs, rugs, mirrors and more from Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn Teen and Kids as well as the parent company’s modern spinoff, West Elm.
SDH Linens, available at upscale boutiques like Misto Lino, can be had at up to 80% off retail during one of the semi-annual sales held at the company’s warehouse in Fairfield. Stock up on fine European linens, furniture, decorative pillows, gifts, and accessories for yourself or your guests. Sales are usually held weekends in the spring and fall, so keep checking the SDH website for dates or put your name on their mailing list to get a heads up.
The High End Of It
HD Buttercup can be overwhelming when you’re not sure what you’re looking for, so it’s best to go with particular pieces in mind. The company’s large space south of Market is crammed with coffee tables, sectionals, sideboards and much more. Though not an outlet, HD is an excellent place to find high end and special-order goods without the designer mark-up.
When you’re in the throes of finding a preschool, it can feel like a monumental project. Is Montessori better? Should you co-op? How much time at school is the right amount? Try to keep in mind that simply by sending your child to preschool, you’re helping to ensure that he or she will fare better when Kindergarten rolls around. Being with other kids, becoming accustomed to adults other than a parent, sharing, following class rules and learning to adapt to a new environment, all of these things will help the littles succeed when you send them off to elementary school. The right place for your children is the place that feels right to you and that suits the needs of your family.
It Takes a Village
Want to see what your favorite people are up to when they’re at their home away from home? A co-op may be the option you’re looking for. Get to know your child’s new friends and see the preschool’s teachers in their natural environment by enrolling the kids (and yourself, really) in a school that uses its parents as a resource.
At Orinda’s TOPS, families are required to have 10-11 classroom participation days per year. A play-based program with plenty of outdoor time, the co-op at TOPS is open to children 2-4. The Pre-K class does not require parent participation, but you’re welcome to join for field trips or visit when you have time to spare.
Parent participation at Lafayette Nursery School (LNS) varies with your child’s age. As she grows, so does your commitment to the classroom, beginning at 2-3 times per month in the 2s class. Located on 1st street, within walking distance to downtown and the Lafayette Library, LNS is the perfect choice for families looking to ease into the preschool experience.
For families straddling the line in Walnut Creek’s Saranap, 2-3 days a week at Pied Piper Preschool may be just the ticket. One full morning of every two weeks, 8 hours of maintenance and 6 hours of fundraising and reasonable tuition will gain you and your darlings access to this 50 year-old cooperative. Buyouts are available for the maintenance and fundraising commitments.
Working it Out
When both parents are working, an extended day preschool is an absolute necessity. Finding a spot for your most precious family members to thrive while you’re bringing home the bacon can be a challenge, but the range of options in Lamorinda can ease the transition.
Infants as young as 6 weeks can enroll at Nanny’s House, a small school on Old Tunnel Road in Lafayette. Founder Marta P. uses music and a Reggio Emilia based approach to enrich each child’s daily experience. Full day care begins at 7:00 and extends to 6:00 p.m.
With several locations in the Bay Area, Old Firehouse School is one of the few that offers care for children starting at 1 year. Childcare for the youngest attendees is offered full day from 3-5 days a week while both half and full-day schedules are available beginning in the 2s class on through the school’s developmental Kindergarten program. OFS is a quick hop from Lafayette’s downtown and highway 24, making it convenient for the commuting parent.
Montessori based Fountainhead has extended care from 7:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. at their location in Orinda, with gymnastics, sports, music enrichment and more offered though a third-party organization on select days. An optional afternoon Spanish immersion class for kids 3-6 will have them fluent in no time. Families looking for Mandarin immersion will have to make the commute to Fountainhead’s Dublin Campus which also hosts the school’s private Kindergarten and elementary.
Kids at the The Meher School’s White Pony Preschool will experience a curriculum based on a blend of Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio Emilia principles in an indoor/outdoor classroom environment. White Pony is an excellent option for parents with longer hours, offering an extended day that can begin as early as 7:00 a.m. and run as late as 6:30 p.m. Looking to transition to private school? Meher also has an elementary school, K-5 at the same site.
St. Mark’s Nursery School’s “bright and early” and full day program makes it an excellent choice for working parents. Though the emergent curriculum is play based, the school prides itself on graduating Kindergarten ready kids.
Play it Again
Moraga’s Growing Tree allows children ages 18 months-Pre-K to attend as few as 1 time or as many as 5 times week. If you choose the once a week option, however, that day must be a Monday or Friday. Programs balance structured group time and individual free choice time to prepare kids for life in Kindergarten.
One of Lamorinda’s oldest private preschools, Mulberry Tree offers literature-based learning centers and creative outdoor play activities at their location on St. Mary’s Road in Moraga. The school has a flexible range of morning, afternoon, and full day options dependent upon age and needs.
Too Cool For School
Families in Burton Valley may want to consider Merriewood, a preschool on the grounds of Burton Valley Elementary. Care can begin at 8:30 and end as late as 2:15 for kids 3-5 with regular program hours running 9:00-11:30. Children 2 1/2-3 may only extend until 12:30, but both options allow for familiarization with the elementary school property and the opportunity to meet local friends, easing the transition to Kindergarten.
Situated on Stanley Boulevard, Happy Days Learning Center is conveniently located for families in the Springhill area. Two buildings house the younger and older children’s classrooms each with outdoor areas for imaginative play. Flexible hours that begin as early as 7:00 a.m. make Happy Days a convenient choice for working families. Because the school provides before and after care for kids K-5, a shuttle van is available from nearby Springhill Elementary.
Growing With God
Nurtury Preschool at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church offers extended programs from as early as 8:00 a.m. until as late as 5:00 p.m. With clean, modern classrooms and two shaded, fenced play areas, Nurtury is a place your kids will be excited to spend their days. Children as young as 2 and through Pre-K may attend 2 to 5 days a week during the school year. Families with children age 3 ½ to 5 may wish to enroll their students in the more task-oriented, age-based afternoon enrichment classes.
Incorporating regular chapel time, Holy Shepard Christian Preschool in Orinda follows an emergent curriculum which encourages independence and spiritual growth. With a Tuesday/Thursday program for younger children and at Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule for the Pre-K kids, Holy Shepard operates from 9:00-12:00 with an extended day option from noon-2:00.
Gan Ilan, or “Garden of Trees” at Lafayette’s Temple Isaiah is open to children of all faiths, with priority given to Temple members. The Jewish tradition is celebrated at the preschool throughout the day. The morning program, for kids 2-4 runs Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. with extended care available in the morning from 7:00-9:00 and in the afternoons from 1:00-3:30. Gan Ilan offers extended from 3:30-5:30 Monday through Thursday.
St. Stephen’s preschool in Orinda also welcomes families of all faiths. The school runs a half day program with an optional “lunch bunch” extended day ending at 2:00 p.m. which includes circle time and outdoor play as well enrichment programs such as cooking, science, yoga and Spanish, depending upon the child’s age.
Approaching child development using a center based classroom and a goal of keeping open lines of communication between family, church and school, Joyful Beginnings is located in the Lafayette Methodist Church. A half day program with a “lunch bunch” that continues until 2:45 makes Joyful Beginnings ideal for families with older kids attending Lafayette Elementary right across the street.
Keeping It In The House
Grace Dixon of Lafayette Kids Cottage aims to combine the convenience of a nanny, the stimulation of a school and the comfort of a home in her small, cozy preschool. With a range of options for care, Lafayette Kids Cottage can help simplify your life.
Rounding Them Up
Need more information? Learn about many of the area’s schools by attending a preschool fair. For over 20 years, Lamorinda Moms has sponsored a fair in November, rounding up all the local schools to help parents find the right place for their kids. Can’t make the event? Download their free Preschool Fair Booklet, a comprehensive guide listing philosophies, hours, cost, contact information and staff to student ratios and start your search for your child’s first dream school.
Looking for a romantic spot for a night out? You don’t have to travel far to find a place to cozy up with your significant other. These East Bay spots will help keep the flame burning, whether you’re in search a quick cocktail before that rom-com or a dinner that makes you want to linger a little longer.
Dream A Little Dream
Mais Oui! There is a little bit of France tucked away off Moraga Road. Pretend you and your sweetheart are spending an evening in Paris at Rêve Bistro. Start with the gougères, little cheesy puffs that will make you feel like you just stepped into a spot in the St. Germain-des- Près then share a French onion soup that will warm you all the way to the tips of your toes. Order a bottle of Crément or Champagne to accompany your meal and toast your time together, be it your first date or a quarter century. Still hungry? Move on to the moules frites (mussels with fries) or coq au vin (wine braised chicken) before dipping your spoons into the mousse au chocolat or crème brûlée.
Toast Your Tootsies Together
On a cold winter night, there’s no better place to belly up to the bar than Postino in Lafayette. Let the warm air from the heaters at your feet chase away the chill while you sip a glass of prosecco or split a half bottle of Brunello di Montalcino. With the snug ambiance of an Italian nonna’s farmhouse and a menu full of pastas and antipasti, Postino will transport you and your date straight to the hill towns of Tuscany. On summer evenings, reserve a spot in the garden beneath a bank of climbing roses and dream up a trip for two to Montalcino.
If your tastes run to southern Italy, slip into Locanda Positano’s charming slice of the Amalfi Coast right on Brown Avenue. Take a seat inside the sea inspired dining room or on the heated patio and kick off the night with an Aperol Spritz. Order up a plate of frito misto and revel in the flavors of Positano while you wait for your hand thrown pizza or Mamma Carmela’s lasagna. Still hungry? Finish your meal with an espresso and serving of tiramisú or panna cotta.
Mi Casa es Su Casa
For a date with a heavy dose of nostalgia, leave your car with the valet and take a table at Casa Orinda, the area’s oldest restaurant. The low beamed ceiling, fire burning in the hearth and showstopping floral arrangements make for an intimate atmosphere. Ask your waiter for the prime rib, served old school style, with a baked potato, veggies and creamy horseradish and settle in for a comfortable evening with your Manhattan or G&T.
The Way To A Man's Heart
If the one you love is a food lover, nothing can compare to a four course meal in the storied dining room at Berkeley’s iconic Chez Panisse. Show him you care by booking a table a month in advance for that big birthday or anniversary. Can’t plan that far ahead? Try Oakland’s Oliveto. This nose to tail restaurant above Rockridge’s Market Hall serves refined dishes like Ossetra caviar with horseradish buttermilk panna cotta and chestnut rigatoni with black truffles in a white tablecloth setting.
Bountiful For Both
A romantic night out means something different to everyone. For some, it’s caviar and champagne, for others barbeque and beer. If you and your date can’t agree, step into the inviting dining room at Bounty Hunter where you can have your pint and she can have her flute. With its moody lighting, craft cocktails and walls lined with bottles of bourbon, sparkling and rye, Bounty Hunter might even make you forget you’re in the suburbs.
Toast your differences over a plate of ribs or seared ahi then buy a bottle to sneak into the latest love story at the Century Theater just around the corner.
Make A Night Of It
For special occasions such as Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, make reservations at the Lafayette Park Hotel for their prix fixe dinner. The Lafayette Park’s elegant restaurant’s dim lighting and leather booths make it an ideal spot for a quiet dinner. Forgot to book? Pop into the bar and cross your fingers for a table by the fireplace or, if it’s a warm evening, pull up a seat by the firepit outside and share a couple of appetizers under the stars. Got coverage for the kids? Make the moment last by checking into on European style rooms upstairs for an overnight stay. After a late brunch the next day, step out for his and hers foot reflexology at Lamorinda Healthy Happy Massage.
If you prefer a meal with a view, dine at Limewood in Berkeley’s Claremont Hotel, then retire to one of the resort’s freshly remodeled suites. In the morning, stroll down to Fournée Bakery for some of the best croissants on this side of the pond. After half an hour browsing the neighborhood’s charming shops, spend the day at the spa on the hotel’s lower level followed by a lunch rendezvous by the pool.
Into The Woods
Let her know you’re up for an adventure by making a reservation at Bull Valley Roadhouse. Founded by a couple of Slanted Door alum and one of the owners of the Burlington Hotel, situated next door, this atmospheric restaurant in a semi-abandoned Victorian town serves pre-prohibition cocktails and comfort food to die for. Depending upon your taste for kitsch, you may or may not want to visit the taxidermied polar bear at the Warehouse Café across the street or spend the night in one of the quirky rooms at the Burlington. Be sure to warn your companion about the dark and winding drive out to the town of Port Costa or she could begin to wonder if you’ve lost your way.
Love Is In The Air
Surprise your spouse with a gondola ride on Oakland’s Lake Merritt. After a lazy twilight cruise in a real Venetian vessel, walk up the dock to the Lake Chalet where the two of you can dig into platter of local oysters and a mound of truffle fries. At your table by the window, sip your Sauv Blanc and watch the lights come on across the lake.
For a bit of amour alfresco, plan a picnic for your partner in Berkeley’s Rose Garden or Tilden Park’s Botanic garden. Both close at dusk, so make it an afternoon event then take a drive up Grizzly Peak to one of the vista points and watch the sun set over the City.
The spacious backyards of Lamorinda are a boon for moms of young kids, but sometimes a change of scenery is in order. When the littles need more room to run and you’re looking for a bit of chit-chat with other grown-ups, pack up a blanket and some snacks and head to one of the area’s local parks.
Games and Nature
The 68 acres that make up the Lafayette Community Park offer not only a Petanque Court and sports fields, but also nature trails, picnic tables and a tot playground. Leave your car in the lot on St. Mary’s Road and take the footbridge across to the fields and picnic area. The banks of Las Trampas Creek, which meanders through the park under a canopy of Buckeye, Willow and Oak trees are perfect for spotting local wildlife or staying cool on a hot summer day. For more information about Petanque and the schedule of happenings on the court, visit the Lamorinda Petanque Club’s website.
Tucked Away Downtown
Brook Street Park, formerly known as Pirate Park for its red “pirate ship” play structure, now removed, is still a great spot to keep the smallest ones having fun while you take a much-deserved rest on one of the sunny benches. Fully fenced, this diminutive space still contains several ride-on animals, with new “airliner” and “helicopter” structures expected sometime during the spring or summer of 2020. Also to come: “Expression Swings” which allow toddlers and caregivers or older siblings to swing together, face-to-face. For now, bring your own toys and imagination. There are no restrooms, so keep that coffee consumption to a minimum.
In On The Action
Roll your stroller to Elam and Margaret Brown Plaza on the corner of Mt. Diablo and Moraga Road. The plaza is ideal for an alfresco picnic lunch with friends. Grab a bucket of fried chicken to share or some tasty treats from Sideboard or Joe and the Juice and let the kids run around while you watch the world go by from your blanket on the grass.
Reserved For Fun
With a 2.7 mile paved nature trail, picnic areas and play structure, the Lafayette Reservoir has plenty to keep the whole family occupied. Should boredom strike, rent a paddle or rowboat at the visitor’s center and explore the area by water. Basic bait and tackle are also available for folks looking to land a few trout or catfish. Daily fishing permit required. Want to bring your own boat? The Res, as locals call it, has a launch area, but you’ll need to have your non-motorized craft inspected to keep the water supply free of invasive mussels. To reserve one of the large picnic areas, visit the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s website.
Walk This Way
Moraga Commons Park is accessible from the Lafayette-Moraga Trail as well as two parking lots, one on Moraga Road and the other on St. Mary’s Road. Put the toddlers in the baby jogger and get some exercise on your way. With a fenced tot lot, oodles of soft grass and a water feature that operates on summer days, the Commons Park is great place to spend an afternoon. Older kids can bring their skateboards or play a game of pick-up basketball on the half court while the younger ones enjoy the play structure and swings. Restrooms are located near the St. Mary’s parking lot.
Going To The Dogs
Situated on the outskirts of Moraga, Rancho Laguna Park has a rural feel and offers a fenced tot lot, swings and an off-leash dog run. Let Fido have a run around then set the kids loose on the slides before taking everyone on a hike on nearby EMBUD land. Permits are required for the trails and can be purchased at EBMUD.com for a nominal fee.
In The Thick Of It
Just off the Village’s main thoroughfare, the Orinda Community Park has something for everyone. With a tot lot, sandbox, large climbing structure and plenty of grass, this much-loved park is close to the community center, library and several coffee shops. The picnic tables next to the tot lot operate on a first-come-first-serve basis while those under the gazebo and in the meadow can be reserved on the City of Orinda’s website. The park’s tennis courts may be booked there as well.
Under The Oaks
With 111 acres of trails, BBQ’s, several picnic areas and a horseshoe pit, Orinda Oaks Park is an excellent spot to host an outdoor party. Lease the entire picnic area for 200 of your nearest and dearest friends. Spots can be reserved on the city’s website. Just looking for a quick outing? Grab a place under the trees and take in the scenery or kick the ball around on the park’s grassy field. Volleyball courts are also available.
Worth The Drive
Make your way out to Walnut Creek’s largest community park. Heather Farm on North San Carlos Drive has all all-abilities playground, tot lot, fishing pond, nature pond, tennis courts and off-leash dog area. Let the teenagers burn off some energy at the skate park or sand volleyball courts and give your pup some leash free time in the designated space at the north end of the park.
The Best Part Of School
All of Lamorinda’s elementary schools have entertaining play areas for a wide range of age groups but are only open for public use after school hours and on weekends. Many of the Lafayette schools’ climbing structures and swing sets were recently updated using funds from Measure ‘C’, approved by residents in 2016 to bring aging infrastructure up to snuff. Get the preschoolers ready for the best part of their kindergarten days by familiarizing them with the local elementary’s outdoor spaces.
Roaming The Regional Parks
Accessible from the Bear Creek Staging Area in Lafayette, Briones regional park makes trekking its trails worthwhile with some of the best views in the East Bay. Head up its highest peak for a 360 degree vista that includes Mt. Diablo, the Sacramento Delta and Mt. Tam. Bring your own bow and arrow if you want to practice a little shooting at the Briones Archery Club, a free range located within the park.
Whether you’re looking to ride the train or carousel, loll on a blanket in the botanic garden, swim in Lake Anza, feed the animals at the Little Farm, hike at Inspiration Point or simply let the kids roll down the steep hill near the Brazilian Room, Tilden Park has something to keep your family entertained for hours on end.
Trails in Oakland’s Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve can be accessed from Old Tunnel Road near the Caldecott Tunnel in Orinda. Parking is limited. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed in some areas. Take in views from Round Top or check out the geology with an easy hike around Sibley’s Quarry or Volcanic Trails.
So, you’ve thanked your old sweaters, jeans, and kitchen appliances for their service and consigned them to the purgatory of the garage, swearing that you’ll get rid of them soon. Don’t let them become a permanent fixture. Toss that stuff in the car and donate items that no longer spark joy to one of our local non-profits or give them to a friend in need.
Before making the trek to the donation center, offer things you no longer wear or use to friends or family. That vase you’re ready to part with—your neighbor has been secretly coveting it for years. Here’s a chance to make her day.
Ask for an invite to the Facebook page for Lamorinda Treasures, where you can post photos and descriptions of items you’re ready to part with and get takers to collect them right from your doorstep.
Dedicated to creating a gift economy where people can offer goods and services to other members in their area free of charge, the Buy Nothing Project is a great resource for giving your old belongings a new lease on life.
The organization has chapters in Moraga, Orinda and Lafayette, each with its own unique Facebook page. Join the one closest to you and start sharing with others in your community.
Trash to Treasure
The Assistance League Thrift Shop at the Way Side Inn, conveniently located on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in downtown Lafayette accepts clothing, books, kitchenware and much more. Visit their website for a complete list of desired items as well as things they do not accept.
Proceeds from Way Side’s tidy shop are the major source of funding for The Assistance League of Diablo Valley, which provides support to children in need in Contra Costa County.
The organization’s Operation School Bell and Common threads programs supply kids with new clothing, including uniforms, shoes and underclothes at the beginning of each school year.
Additionally, the Assistance League aids families with infants at risk, puts together duffels bags for foster kids achieving independence and Assault Survivor Kits® for victims of sexual assault, funds scholarships for foster youth and donates groceries for CalWorks families in need.
Moraga’s outpost of Goodwill in the Rheem Shopping Center is open to receive your new and gently used household items, clothing, books and toys Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
For furniture and other large pieces, call their “House Call Services” line at (510) 534-6666 to arrange for pick-up at your home.
Sales from donations to this international non-profit are used to fund programs helping people find work, train for new jobs and become financially independent.
Clean Out, Help Out
Founded by two local women, Grateful Gatherings is in the business of helping families recovering from homelessness get settled into new digs.
In one day, the organization, along with a cadre of volunteers, transforms each apartment or house into a fully furnished home using community donations of both new and used furniture, housewares and artwork.
Get on their mailing list to find out about their events and where to donate your gently used furnishings. Grateful Gatherings has no storage, so everything must be delivered directly to their collection sites for use that day.
Need a Pick-Up?
Call the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Contra Costa County at (925) 439-5060 to arrange for a pick-up of your furniture, clothing or household items. The Society is a Catholic lay organization providing anti-poverty services, including food and shelter as well as medical and dental care.
The Eyes Have it
Time for a new pair of specs? Donate your old frames at The Art and Science of Eyewear in Lafayette’s Fiesta Square. The shop will pass along your eyeglasses to the local chapter of the Lions Club. You do not need to be a customer in order to drop off.
Share Some Love with Your Local Library
Bookshelves overflowing? Head to one of Lamorinda’s three libraries and donate those self-help books that weren’t all that helpful (Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” excepted, of course).
At the Orinda library, enter the garage and leave your books behind the door marked “Book Donations”. The Moraga Library accepts donations, both fiction and non, in the bins just inside their entrance. Stop at the desk and ask for a receipt if you’re looking for a tax deduction.
Lafayette Library has a cabinet located near the front of the parking garage. The Friends of the Library bookshop asks that you remove your books from the bags and boxes and place them on the shelves in the cupboard.
If you only have a one or two books to give away, pull up to one of Lamorinda’s Little Free Libraries and exchange your novels for something new.
You never know what you’ll discover when you rifle through the charming little boxes your thoughtful neighbors have constructed in front of their houses and businesses.
You may even find a hardcover copy of that book you’ve been meaning to buy. For a list of local locations, visit the Little Free Library website and enter your zip code or keep your eyes peeled for signs while driving around town.
Kick it to the Curb
Twice a year during Reuse and Cleanup Days, you can place reusable items such as clothes, housewares and books out in front of your house for pick-up by RecycleSmart.
Visit their website for a list of acceptable items, which will be passed along to people in need or sold in thrift stores. The Reuse Program brochure should arrive in your mailbox about two weeks before your scheduled date.
In many communities, local libraries struggle to stay afloat. Here in Lamorinda, thanks to dedicated volunteers and ongoing fundraising efforts, ours are thriving, vibrant, multi-use spaces for people of all ages. You can still browse the stacks for titles by your favorite author, but don’t miss out on a plenitude of other offerings.
Books and Beyond
You can have as many as 100 items checked out of the library at any given time. That’s a lot of media, Between the three Lamorinda locations: Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga, selections available to borrow include hundreds of thousands of books, magazines, CD-ROMS, audio and eBooks. Worried about late fees? As of January 1st, 2019, all Contra Costa Libraries have eliminated fines in order to open access to a wider audience.
Can’t locate what you’re looking for in the Contra Costa database? Check out LINK+, which offers interlibrary loans from other libraries in California and Nevada for those hard to find items. Reserve a book and pick it up at your local location. Going on a trip and don’t want to haul that hardcover on the plane? Visit Enki and use your library card to borrow an eBook for your Kindle, Nook or iPad from the librarian curated collection.
Computers are available for use free of charge at all our libraries. Ensure you get the time you need by reserving one online before you go using your library card and pin. Printing and copying are also available for a nominal fee.
Free News, Who Knew?
Your Contra Costa Library card also offers complimentary, 24-hour access to digital edition of The New York Times. Simply enter your library card information and create an account or log in to your existing account. Note to the crossword or cooking addicted: The Crossword and Cooking apps are not included. Not to worry, crosswords from the past week and other archived puzzles can still be found in the Crossword section. Recipes are accessible through the paper’s online Food section.
Gimme Some Space
Need a place to get together? Each of the libraries have spaces to rent depending upon the size of your group and its needs. At the Orinda Library, Group study rooms can be reserved in advance for parties of up to 8 people. Visit their website for rules regarding usage.
To book one of their meeting rooms or the large auditorium, you’ll have to go through the City of Orinda, but facilities at the Lafayette Library, including the Don Tatzin Community Hall, conference rooms, and the Arts and Science Discovery Center can be booked by emailing rentals@LLLCF.org directly or calling their office at 925-283-6513 ext. 103 between the hours of 10:00 and 2:00. The Moraga Community Room at the library is available by reservation through Moraga Parks and Rec.
When your kid is having a Common Core meltdown and you don’t know what to do, the library is there for you. Online tutors from Brainfuse are available every day from 1:00-10:00 p.m. for library cardholders. Live help required? High schoolers are on hand Saturdays from 10:30-12:30 and some weekday afternoons from 3:30-5:30 at the Lafayette Library to help kids 3rd-12th grade with their homework. Check the website for each week’s schedule.
Need information for that 5th grade project? Each of California’s Missions has its own book accessible in electronic format through the library’s website. Many other digital resources offered free for students elementary to high school, including biographies, encyclopedias, dictionaries, primary source documents, magazines, reference books and historical essays, can make your child’s writing project a less painful.
Living and Learning
There’s a lot going on at our libraries. Visit the Contra Costa Library events calendar for information on activities and programs at each location.
From storytime for the littles to after school classes for tweens and many other fun and functional programs for kids of all ages, each of the Lamorinda libraries have a wide range of offerings to keep everyone busy and entertained.
For the adult crowd, presentations by The World Affairs Council of the East Bay and renowned authors as well as T’ai Chi classes, musical performances, book clubs, writers groups and more, can keep your date book full each month.
Getting Out and About
One of the libraries’ best kept secrets is their Discover and Go program. Available to Contra Costa County card holders, Discover and Go offers discounted and free tickets to museums, zoos, theaters and cultural events around the bay.
Log in and browse the selections, make a reservation, print or download your passes and enjoy. Passes are limited and non-transferable and any unused pass will count against your total, so make sure to check your dates carefully. Visit the Discover and Go tutorial page to find out how to avail yourself of the offerings.
Sometimes a book is so great, you want a copy all your own. Fortunately, all of our library locations have used bookshops, supplied by donations and staffed by volunteers from the community.
With large and varied selections and fantastic prices (many books are under $3.00), that pile on your bedside table might get a little out of control. Open since 1967, The Friends Corner Bookshop in Lafayette is located on the back side of the library.
The tidy, organized shop features titles in fiction, biography, travel, art, history, young adult and much more. Visit their website for hours and more information.
Moraga Friends Bookshop at the library on St. Mary’s Road, is open Tuesday-Sunday. In addition to its regular hours Monday-Saturday, Orinda’s Friends’ Bookshop holds “dealer days” once a month in their bookshop/sorting room as well as two big public sales in July and November. Proceeds from all the bookshops and sales benefit library operations and programs.
There are plenty of ways to support your local library. If you have some time on your hands, consider volunteering in one of the bookshops or help your librarian by shelving books.
Join the Friends of the Orinda Library or Friends of Moraga Library or donate to the Lafayette Library and Learning Center to ensure funding for their enrichment programs and to aid in the purchase of library materials and maintain facilities.
In addition, the LLLC can always use assistance with graphic design, IT, administrative duties, or their annual fundraising gala.
Got extra books? Donate them to any of the three libraries. In Lafayette, drop off up to two bags on the shelves in the library’s underground garage. Donations to the Orinda Library can be left inside the book room just as you enter their parking garage.
In Moraga, leave your books in the bins located in the lobby. Books should be gently used and free of stains, mildew or odors. All donations are tax-deductible and help our libraries continue to grow and prosper.
There are a lot of reasons to buy a house in Lamorinda. We’ve got beautiful weather, tons of open space, more than our fair share of regional parks, lively downtowns, great restaurants and engaged communities, but ask people why they chose to move to here, and chances are they’ll tell you it was for the schools.
How the Districts Are Divided
Unlike in many other areas of the state, Lamorinda schools are split into four different districts: Orinda Union School District, Lafayette School District, Moraga School District, and the Acalanes Union High School District, each with its own school board and budget.
The Orinda, Lafayette and Moraga districts are made up of the elementary and middle schools within each city’s boundaries, while Acalanes Union consists of the three high schools of Lamorinda:
Campolindo (Moraga), Acalanes (Lafayette), Miramonte (Orinda) as well as Las Lomas High School located in Walnut Creek. Due to years of dwindling budgets and most recently to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), put in place by the California Department of Education, all of our local schools are underfunded.
Keeping Our Schools on Top
With state and federal funding nowhere near the levels required to educate students, how do our school districts manage to remain among the top-ranked in California?
In addition to the occasional bond measure to fund infrastructure and parcel tax measures to help bridge the gap, three local education foundations: Lafayette Partners in Education (LPIE), Moraga Education Foundation (MEF), and the Education Foundation of Orinda (EFO) are what make the difference between an educational experience that is merely satisfactory and one that is truly exceptional.
Parents in each district are asked to contribute to their local foundation on a per child basis in order to keep our schools performing at the highest levels.
Lafayette Partners in Education
Established in 1980 as the Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation (LASF) by a group of parents concerned about the cutbacks to art and music, LPIE supports the Burton Valley, Happy Valley, Lafayette and Springhill Elementary schools as well as Stanley Middle School and Acalanes High School.
As the funding gap has grown, so has LPIE, which in 2019 will raise over 4 million dollars from parents and community and local businesses to pay for programs in all curriculum areas, including English, math, computer science, foreign language, art and music as well as librarians at the elementary and middle schools and staff development at all sites. Recent investments in wellness and counseling at Acalanes High School have provided students with crucial mental health services on campus.
Without LPIE, Acalanes High School would be unable to offer students a well-rounded 7-period day, complete with a wide range of elective options. With a full-time Executive Director, small staffed office, classroom instructors and a raft of volunteers, LPIE makes a massive impact on the quality and variety of each child’s education.
Moraga Education Foundation
Bridging the funding gap in Moraga for over 35 years, Moraga Education Foundation’s 2019 budget provides over million dollars to the town’s Camino Pablo, Los Perales and Donald Rheem elementary schools, more than $600,000 to Joaquin Moraga Intermediate and $800,000 to Campolindo High School.
Donations to the organization or its endowment make possible support not only for the core curriculum, but also for art, music, engineering and a wide range of electives. MEF allows Moraga elementary schools to retain PE instructors, science and teacher aides, librarians and to run math acceleration/intervention programs.
Additionally, the foundation invests in counseling and student support at the elementary, middle and high school levels and funds the recently opened wellness center at Campolindo.
Fundraising efforts for the organization include parent, community and business support as well as an annual gala event each spring to meet each fiscal year’s budget. Moraga’s award-winning schools are a testament to the power of their foundation’s efforts.
Education Foundation of Orinda
EFO will raise and spend $1.7 million dollars for and in the city’s schools in 2019, funding salaries for art, choral and instrumental music instructors and librarians at the four elementary schools.
In conjunction with the parent organizations at each site, dollars from the Education Foundation of Orinda allow the district maintain smaller class sizes in grades T-K through 3 at Del Rey, Glorietta, Sleepy Hollow and Wagner Ranch elementary schools and allow Miramonte to offer a full 7 period day to students, ensuring a wide variety of elective options to better prepare kids for college and beyond.
Thanks to EFO, students at Orinda Intermediate School are able to choose from a wide range of electives, including debate, chorus, computer graphics, woodshop, web design and many more. Miramonte High School benefits from funding for a multitude of subject areas including architecture, computer science, public speaking, drama and photography.
Donations to EFO and the work of its dedicated volunteers ensure that all Orinda students are offered the highest quality curriculum from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Committed to Making the Grade
These non-profit organizations show our community’s commitment to the value of a well-rounded education and ensure that Lamorinda schools have the resources they need to consistently rank among the top in the state.
By providing technology, additional instructors, funding for programs and staff development, each local foundation builds a bridge across a large gap and enriches each child’s educational experience in ways that cannot always be measured.
The Value of High Performing Schools
Research has shown a direct correlation between the quality of schools and home prices. Whether your children are currently enrolled in the district or not, a contribution to one of the three education foundations is an investment in maintaining property values for yourself and your family while also preserving a culture of academic excellence in all of Lamorinda’s districts.
Passionate about helping you fit in... Lamorinda's Top INDEPENDENT Realtor