NapaLearns Receives $275,000 from Napa Valley Vintners in Support of Education Disrupted by COVID-19

Press Release: Funds Aimed at New Distance Learning Skills for Educators

Peg Maddocks, PhD, Executive Director, NapaLearns
Published on November 20, 2020

Napa, Calif. November 12, 2020 — NapaLearns is pleased and excited to announce that it is the recipient of $275,000 from Napa Valley Vintners. Even though the vintners didn’t host their signature Auction Napa Valley event this year due to COVID-19, they still donated $8.3 million to 29 different nonprofits that are essential to the recovery of Napa Valley. The donation to NapaLearns will be used to continue the organization’s ongoing work with Napa County’s five school districts and will be specifically directed at responding to the impact the pandemic has had on teacher professional development in the era of distance learning. 

Impact of COVID-19 on Teachers

With the closure of in-person classrooms, COVID-19 exposed the need to accelerate teacher professional development in distance learning practices and the use of technology to engage students. Over the past 10 years, NapaLearns has provided digital innovator workshops to educators and it has subsidized the costs of teachers to obtain master’s degrees in innovative learning. Innovative teaching ensures that students are getting the best learning experiences, whether online or in-person settings. Nearly 1000 teachers have participated in these programs during this timeframe and NapaLearns will continue to make these investments. 

Digital Innovator Program

The Digital Innovator Program was launched because online instruction and hybrid learning environments present a real challenge for educators. Try to imagine how a teacher can create an engaging classroom environment, while simultaneously monitoring students who are both online as well as physically in the classroom. It may seem like an impossible feat, but by combining the right technical tools with proven instructional practices, opportunities are created that result in more student engagement and deeper learning.

To get ready for the new school year this fall, NapaLearns partnered with the Napa County Office of Education and Learnshift, a group of teacher volunteers who earned their master’s degrees through the NapaLearns Fellows program, to host a three-day conference called “Level Up Your Distance Learning Game.” More than 130 teachers in Napa County attended and participated in sessions on the key tools and approaches they need to forge a connection with their students while teaching from a Zoom room. 

“The partnership with NapaLearns was critical to our successful transition to distance learning in the Spring,” said Pat Andry-Jennings, assistant superintendent of instruction at Napa Valley Unified School District. “Over 150 educators in our district have earned their master’s degree in Innovative Learning from Touro University through the NapaLearns Fellows scholarship program. Several of these skilled educators stepped forward to lead and train NVUSD educators to more seamlessly adapt to teaching in a digital learning environment.”

“The vintners recognize that the pandemic has had far reaching effects beyond the issues of health and safety,” said Peg Maddocks, executive director, NapaLearns. “We don’t know the impact yet on academic performance but we do know that teachers that have been through our teacher training programs have had an easier time of moving to the distance learning model. We are incredibly grateful to the Napa Valley Vintners for their generous support!”

To learn more about NapaLearns Digital Innovator and NapaLearns Fellows program, visit

About NapaLearns

NapaLearns is a nonprofit with a bold mission – to equip every student in Napa County with the skills they need to thrive in college, careers and their community. NapaLearns has invested millions of dollars in innovative public education programs that improve graduation rates, boost academic achievement and ensure that students have the skills to compete in the workforce of tomorrow. Learn more at