Michael Polhamus takes his Santa Cruz High students through the twists and turns of history, politics, American government, and economics. Watsonville High teacher Sara Webb shares stories and creativity in her Ethnic Studies Art class. Kristen Hart informs her students about the way of the natural world in her Biology class at Scotts Valley High. Ceiba Preparatory Institute’s Henry Scrandt leads his students with hands-on instruction in English and writing.

One of our jobs is to prepare students to be productive, informed citizens in a democracy. News is part of that. — Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Kris Munro

These local educators are all using Lookout In The Classroom. It’s our growing commitment to making sure our students know more about the place they live. With the generous support of the Google News Initiative and local donors, Lookout has been able to provide free access to Lookout to more than 6000 public high school students throughout Santa Cruz County. Students in Aptos, Watsonville and Santa Cruz high schools all get our local news, as do students in various charter schools and the County Office of Education’s Alternative Ed programs. Now, we want to fully extend this access to public teachers across the county, and we need your help.
We are excited to launch the Teacher Access Fund, where we aim to provide free Lookout access to Santa Cruz County’s 700 public high school teachers. Please help fund local media literacy and news access in our schools by donating today!


Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Kris Munro describes the impact of the program this way: “One of our jobs is to prepare students to be productive, informed citizens in a democracy. News is part of that. Being able to evaluate news sources, being able to evaluate information. Having local news is a gift, and it’s been a gift to have Lookout in our community. And we’re grateful to the Lookout team for making sure students have access to that local reporting.”

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Some call it modern media literacy, in the age of TikTok. Others think of it simply as “civics” instruction. And Lookout’s director of community and student engagement Jamie Garfield, who has built the program, knows its value: “I’ve seen first hand the impact of having access to credible local news. Students learn the important skills of media literacy which helps them understand their surroundings and think critically about the world around them. My mom is a teacher and growing up she instilled the importance of asking questions, thinking critically, making my own opinions and trying to make a positive difference in the world. I believe access to local, credible news will ultimately give students the power to be able to take action, using the power of information to make a difference in their communities and any ones they may join in the future.”

Who best drives the program in the schools? It’s teachers, of course, and Lookout’s lesson plans and educator alerts make use of local news easy to adapt to curriculum.

We’ve given free individual usage of Lookout to teachers to a test group, and the results are what we believe: the more teachers read local news, the more they incorporate it in their classrooms.

I use Lookout in my classes as I assign work based on local issues and I think it’s incredibly valuable to offer students access to credible local news. — Michael Polhamus, Santa Cruz High government and economics teacher

So, we’re launching the Teacher Access Fund. We aim to provide free Lookout access to Santa Cruz County’s 700 public high school teachers, and ask for your help in doing that. We know that teachers, among many civil servants, are particularly economically squeezed by affordability pressures. One thing we can do is provide them with the local news that will enrich their teaching resources.

Every dollar donated will go to providing that access.

For gifts of $10,000 or more, which can be tax-deductible, please contact us.

Ken Doctor first discovered Santa Cruz as a 17-year-old coming to UCSC in the school’s third year of existence. In founding Lookout Santa Cruz in 2020, Ken completes a long arc from those student days. Along...