Lily Lee-Jones, an Atwater High School math teacher, is a woman with a plan.
It's to get students smiling when they hear the words "algebra" or "calculus."
Jones, who has worked as a high school teacher for eight years, recently applied for a $250,000 grant through Pepsi to get a math and technology tutoring center in Atwater. The center would serve kindergarten through 12th-grade students and be open to anyone.
The Pepsi Refresh Everything Grant allows any people, businesses or nonprofits to pitch an idea that will benefit a community and submit it to the Web site.
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People can submit ideas in one of six categories: education, the planet, neighborhoods, arts and culture, health and food, and shelter.
For this round of grants, applicants needed to apply between Feb. 1 and 15, according to Pepsi. Only the first 1,000 applications were selected to compete for grants.
There are 12 rounds of grants a year. Grants range from $5,000 to $250,000.
People are allowed to vote on their favorite project, and they can vote 10 times a day for the voting period, but each vote must be for a separate project.
"The culture of learning doesn't really exist in Atwater, because it's such a small city. Atwater doesn't even have a tutoring center," she said.
"Kids just aren't interested in math," Jones continued. "The fun in learning isn't there anymore because school is all about test scores now."
Jones hopes to re-engage students in learning. She believes the way to do that is to get older students to tutor younger students. If younger students see older students involved in learning, it could make the younger students value education more.
It creates a new cycle, she said.
As of today, the project is ranked 57. To win, Jones needs to be No. 1 or 2 in the education category for the $250,000 grant category.
To vote on Jones' project visit http://www.refresheverything.com/mathtechcenter. Voting ends March 31.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.