Chevron, Benedum Foundation award grants to area schools – Observer

Chevron and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation recently awarded $196,200 in Innovation Grants to 43 Southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia classrooms to expand and support cutting-edge education.

The grants, presented in collaboration with Pennsylvania Intermediate Unit 1 and the West Virginia Regional Education Service Agency 6 7, seek to encourage school districts, primarily in rural communities, to develop engaging programs and curriculum with innovation and design serving as the driving force behind science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics education.

In Pennsylvania, 20 projects in 14 school districts in Washington, Greene and Fayette counties will receive a combined $91,918 for initiatives aimed at topics that include sustainable agriculture, energy sources and digital design. Schools in 10 West Virginia counties – Brooke, Gilmer, Hancock, Harrison, Marshall, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph, Tucker and Upshur – will receive a combined $104,282 for projects related to robotics, math, anatomy and arts.

“We’re proud to support innovative teachers and school districts that are developing creative solutions to improve STEM education opportunities for children throughout our region,” said Stacey Olson, president of Chevron Appalachia. “Chevron places a high value on supporting communities where we’re privileged to work and recognizes the long-term importance of fostering educational opportunities. That’s why we’re committed to working with stakeholders to close the skills gap and develop a workforce that can thrive in opportunities across our growing energy and manufacturing sectors.”

Chevron and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation funded the Innovation Grants as part of the Appalachia Partnership Initiative, a multi-year partnership established with an initial $20 million commitment from Chevron that seeks to strengthen economic and education environments by supporting long-term STEM and technical training programs.

“The Benedum Foundation seeks to promote successful learning, academic achievement and preparation for the 21st-century work force in Southwest Pennsylvania and West Virginia,” said James Denova, vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. “We believe these Innovation Grants can help schools and teachers continue to advance practices that demonstrate measurable and sustainable benefits for students. These are some very exciting projects.”

The Jefferson-Morgan School District was among three Greene County school districts that each received a $5,000 grant. Its project is “Jefferson-Morgan STEM/Fab Lab.”

“Jefferson-Morgan is very excited to receive the Innovation Grant from Chevron and the Benedum Foundation,” said Brandon Robinson, assistant principal in the Jefferson-Morgan School District. “Because of this funding, students who otherwise may not have had the opportunity will be able to explore the field of engineering while also learning from the Project Lead the Way engineering courses at Jefferson-Morgan.

“We plan to use the funding to help us start to build our own Fab Lab in the middle/high school for students’ use across the curriculum. Programs like these are what is needed in order to get more of our students interested and excited about critical STEM learning.”

Other Greene County schools that received grants were:

• Mapletown Junior/Senior High School for “Fabrication Application.”

• West Greene High School for “21st Centery Engineering, Automation and Manufacturing Skills in the Classroom.”

In Washington County, 12 grants totaling $53,918 were awarded. Charleroi Area High School received a $2,500 grant for “Antweight BattleBot League,” and Charleroi Area Middle School received a $5,000 grant for “Lego Education.”

“We are thankful to Chevron and the Benedum Foundation for this grant as it will help increase our students’ exposure to critical STEM fields,” said Howard Johnson, Charleroi Area Middle School science teacher.

Grants also were awarded to:

• Avella Elementary Center and High School for “Fab Lab: Empowering Students Through Digital Fabrication,” $5,000.

• Beth-Center Elementary School, “Pennsylvania Parade of Puppets,” $5,000.

• Claysville and Joe Walker Elementary schools in the McGuffey School District, “Growing Energy: Sustainable

Agriculture with Solar Support,” $5,000

• Fort Cherry Elementary Center and Junior/Senior High School, “Heating Up Innovation,” $5,000.

• McGuffey Middle and High schools, “Wearables with Resolve,” $5,000.

• McMurray Elementary School in the Peters Township School District, “K’Nex STEM Day – Renewable

Sources of Energy,” $4,340.

• Peters Township Middle and High schools, “Writing Lab Website Design, $2,750.

• Ringgold Elementary School North and Ringgold Elementary School South, “Engineering Design Process,” $5,000.

• Ringgold Middle School, “Exploring Our World,” $4,833.

• Trinity High School, “Maker’s Mart,” $4,495.

“The Innovation Grant collaboration is an extremely exciting initiative, not only for IU1 schools, but also for schools in West Virginia,” said Don Martin, assistant executive director of Intermediate Unit 1. “These grants provide initial funding for great starter projects, and, in the bigger picture, they methodically encourage schools to share ideas and showcase work – two things that we sometimes don’t seize the opportunity to do. What is also unique about this collaborative is that it’s being done between two states with very different education systems.”

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