Sudbury Education Resource Fund lists grants

SUDBURY — During the 2016-17 school year, the board of directors of the Sudbury Education Resource Fund approved a broad variety of grants to fund projects throughout the district.
 
At the elementary level, SERF recently approved the funding of a grant to implement the initial phase in the creation of a garden in the unused courtyard at the Peter Noyes School. The Noyes Courtyard development project is space restoration project started by teachers, built by parents and maintained by a full community of student, faculty and parent volunteers. The courtyard will provide a dedicated space for the Noyes community to engage in interactions with the natural world. With funds provided by SERF, large raised garden beds were built for every grade and will be used for outdoor, multi-lesson, cross curricular learning.
 
To benefit the science department at the middle school, SERF voted to fund a project to save the spadefoot toad species in Massachusetts. Amphibian populations, including the spadefoot toad, are dwindling due to the effects of habitat loss, pollution and climate change.
 
Through the SERF grant, sixth-grade students at Curtis Middle School participated in “headstarting” spadefoot tadpoles in the classroom which were then reintroduced back into the environment. Students observed tadpoles turning into toadlets and recorded their observations of the metamorphosis of the animal, and also helped feed and care for the toads. The program taught students core conservation principles, allowed students to study native examples of a threatened species and gain experience with scientific practices while participating in a real-life conservation project.
 
Those interested can learn more about SERF and its mission by visiting the SERF table at the opening of the new Whole Foods Market in Sudbury on July 8. In addition, Whole Foods will donate 1 percent of its net sales to SERF on that date.

Tennessee kids deserve quality in early education

As American consumers, we are accustomed to expecting quality from the things we purchase, whether clothing, food, vehicles, or other products and services. We demand our dollars purchase products that are high-quality. Why would we expect any less for our state’s children when it comes to the pre-kindergarten program they attend? That is the exact question Senator Steve Dickerson and I asked ourselves in 2016, when we agreed to co-sponsor the Tennessee Pre-K Quality Act.

This past month, because of that landmark legislation, the Tennessee Department of Education awarded grants to 917 pre-k programs benefiting more than 18,000 children, based largely on the quality of those programs.

In 2015, Vanderbilt University released the results of a study of Tennessee’s pre-kindergarten programs. The study received national recognition for its specificity, longevity and findings. One of the most important findings was that Tennessee’s pre-k programs lacked consistency from classroom to classroom. The way time was spent in the classroom, the quality of instruction and environments, and student outcomes in language and math varied widely between classrooms across the state. With the variability in quality, how could parents know if their child was receiving a quality education that would prepare him or her to thrive in kindergarten and beyond?

In the Pre-K Quality Act, we charged the Tennessee Department of Education to require programs to meet the criteria for a “highly qualified pre-kindergarten program” as defined by the department. Local education agencies (LEAs) that receive Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K (TN-VPK) funding are now required to utilize the Pre-K/Kindergarten growth portfolio model approved by the State Board of Education for the evaluation of teachers. Additionally, successful grant award recipients must ensure coordination between TN-VPK classrooms and elementary schools within an LEA so elementary grade instruction builds upon Pre-K classroom experiences. They must engage parents and families of TN-VPK students through the school year, and require districts to provide professional development to teachers to improve and reduce the variability between classrooms.

For the first time, the roughly $86 million available for pre-k was awarded to local districts based on a competitive grant process. LEA’s were guided by a clear definition of program quality provided by the Department of Education. Districts received technical assistance to understand the new process and had to assess their programs based on quality standards. Through these steps, we have greater assurance that taxpayers are purchasing quality.

This more rigorous process resulted in some districts receiving approval for fewer pre-kindergarten seats, which correlates to fewer dollars for their programs. While this is a loss for some districts, overall, this is a positive development for the voluntary pre-k program. Children and parents deserve quality, as do taxpayers who fund these grants. Importantly, the unallocated funds will be used to help districts improve the quality of their pre-k classrooms.

Our colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly saw the value of a new approach to delivering pre-k in Tennessee. The House passed the measure 95-0 and the Senate 26-3. I thank them for supporting common sense innovation for our state’s most vulnerable children. I am also grateful Governor Haslam signed the bill and for the hard work of the Tennessee Department of Education. The collective efforts of many in state government and the commitment of districts and teachers will lead to more Tennessee kids prepared for school and success in life.

Rep. Mark White is a Republican representing district 83 in Shelby County.

Grant to support local Farm-to-School programs

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Park City Education Foundation’s school grants pack bang for the buck

The Park City Education Foundation ended the school year with a bang — about 160,000 of them, actually.

The nonprofit recently awarded its annual school grants, doling out $160,820 to the Park City School District’s seven schools to fund a range of programs, both established and new, that aim to expand the educational experience for students. Jen Billow, associate director over communications and development for the foundation, said the initiative is one of the most important efforts the nonprofit undertakes each year.

“It is a great feeling,” she said. “But we couldn’t do it without the generosity of the community. It really is amazing how people step up for public education. A lot of times you think, ‘Well, my taxes pay for that,’ but as we know, Utah is (last) in per-pupil funding, so it’s important that people are willing to step up and invest privately into public schools.”

The list of programs the grants fund is varied, but they all have one thing in common: School administrators and teachers generate the ideas from their personal experience in classrooms. Emily Sutherland, principal of Treasure Mountain Junior High School, said that’s an important element of the grants because it allows educators to utilize their creativity and real-world experience.

“It’s very satisfying for teachers to be able to take a risk and be able to have some funding to do that,” she said. “That’s not something educators in a lot of districts and a lot of states are able to do. It makes being an educator a lot more rewarding.”

This year, the foundation funded 33 programs, ranging in cost from $250 to $25,000. Some are new, such as an initiative at Ecker Hill Middle School that will pay for 12 teachers to receive training about how to implement mindfulness practices in their classrooms to help students deal with stress. Another, at McPolin Elementary School, will provide money to hire substitute teachers so full-time teachers can spend some days learning by observing other classrooms.

Other programs, however, are ones the foundation has supported for years. SmartMusic at Ecker Hill Middle School, for instance, allows students to use web-based software to learn music, which Billow said has ultimately paid large dividends for the music programs at Treasure Mountain and Park City High School. Another longtime effort is Latinos in Action, a leadership group for Latino students, which has flourished with the support of the foundation.

“It’s grown from just eight kids at the high school to about 40 kids at the high school, all the way down to sixth grade at Ecker,” Billow said. “These kids are the leaders in their community. How can you not feel good about helping kids achieve their dreams?”

One of the goals of the foundation’s grant initiatives — it also provides district-wide and individual teacher grants — is to make a difference in the lives of as many students as possible. Billow said that, after years of growth for the foundation, it would be difficult to find a student in the district who hasn’t benefited from at least one of the grants.

“It means we’re relevant, and it also means parents and community members want to support us because they see that it’s going to help all kids,” she said. “This community is really generous in thinking beyond their own student. They really see the benefit of public education being the great equalizer and lifting everybody up.”

Sutherland added that the community’s support of the grants and investment in education makes a tangible difference within the schools.

“When you’ve worked in the district for a long time, it just becomes part of the culture that we have this funding and these grants from the community,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s not commonplace around the country and how special that really is. In my opinion, it’s one of the main advantages and benefits to working in this district, is the amount of support we receive from the community.”

NASBA announces Accounting Education Research Grants for 2017

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy announced on Wednesday the 2017 winners of its annual Accounting Education Research Grants. The honored university faculty and researchers will be awarded grants totaling $25,000.

NASBAs headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

NASBA’s headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

NASBA.org

“In 2017, NASBA received more high-quality research proposals than we have ever had,” stated Raymond Johnson, NASBA’s education committee chair. “The proposals we funded in 2017 will help educators and accounting professionals better understand some of the challenges associated with developing high-quality, advanced placement courses in accounting, and those related to educating a diverse population and building a more inclusive profession.”

This year’s grant recipients include:

  • Kimberly Swanson Church (University of Missouri – Kansas City); Pamela Schmidt (Washburn University) – “The Landscape of High School Accounting Education and the Impact on the Future of the Accounting Profession.” Grant amount: $7,165.
  • Brandis Phillips (North Carolina AT State University) – “Stereotype Threat and Mindset Orientation: Psychological Barriers to the Accounting Profession.” Grant amount: $8,125.
  • Reza Espahbodi, (Washburn University); G. Thomas White (College of William and Mary) – “Is Success on the CPA Exam All About Opportunity?” Grant amount: $9,710.

The Research Grants program has now gifted over $150,000 to 27 higher education institutions since its inception in 2011. The 2018 grant proposal period will be announced this later this August.

For more information on the Accounting Education Research Grants Program, as well as past winners, head to NASBA’s site here.


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Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley Grants Promote …

The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, in partnership with Chevron, donated $36,801 to six local nonprofits and service providers Wednesday.

Funding included $3,750 for the American Red Cross Northwest West Virginia’s disaster cycle services in Marshall County; $8,500 to the Cameron Volunteer Fire Department for rescue stabilization skits for vehicles; $2,794 for the “Imaging the Sky” program at Grand Vue Park; $6,757 for the Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley’s Camp Cranium; $10,000 to Wheeling Health Right for care of the uninsured and underinsured in Marshall County; and $5,000 for the Youth Services System Mental Health Matters program at Moundsville Middle School.

According to Lee Ann Wainwright, public affairs representative for Chevron, the initiatives are focused on science, technology, engineering and math education, basic human need and workforce development.

The energy giant’s relationship with the Community Foundation began in 2013 and has garnered over $380,000 in funding for 60 local grants. The Chevron Community Fund accepts grant applications each spring and fall.

According to Wheeling SMART Center founder Robert Strong, the recent grant will provide a camera for a telescope already housed at Grand Vue Park, along with training on how to take photos of planets, nebulas and more with the device.

Strong said the addition will bring even more attention to the SMART Center’s star gazing events, held at 8 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at the park.

“Oftentimes in our working world we’re going from one place to another and constantly looking down. To know that there’s a park just above Moundsville that has a wonderful 16-inch telescope and the ability to take pictures of not just the night sky but to focus in on galaxies star clusters, planets and the moon will really encourage families to bring their kids up,” Strong said. “It’s really nice that Chevron understands that if they’re going to utilize the natural resources in the area that they need to give back. I’m really happy they’ve stepped up to that.”

Valerie Reed, manager of the Ohio Valley Children’s Museum, said the Camp Cranium grant will support STEM-focused activities throughout the summer for local students.

“Camp Cranium is a day camp at Grand Vue Park, involving making friends and doing STEM activities,” Reed said. “We do a lot of Makeshop tinkering and simple circuits. We want our kids to be successful in their future endeavors and those fields seem to be lasting and lucrative.”

Jake Weghorst, regional philanthropy officer for the American Red Cross, said the organization’s part of the funding will help keep area communities safe from fire.

“Our staff and volunteers go out and canvas areas to identify people who need smoke alarms and install them or test the ones they have. It’s a good education that we provide, going over high-risk areas in the house where fires start and making sure they have two ways out of the house.”

Schools Receive Education Grants – Story | MyWabashValley


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Schools Receive Education Grants


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