Bonus mini-grant funding means twice the boost for classrooms

(courtesy photo) Lowell High School art student Molly Fredrickson uses a banding wheel similar to new ones purchased through a recent LEF mini-grant

High School art teacher Susan Langford is getting four new banding wheels for her ceramics/sculpture students.

Cherry Creek Elementary teacher Wendy DeBoer’s third graders will have more opportunities to grasp math concepts using new materials.

And 46 other district teachers also shared in $10,143 in mini-grants awarded by the Lowell Education Foundation.

Heather Cooper, LEF board president, said $8,000 in funding came from the Lowell Community Fund’s annual fall release of funds. The remainder came from end-of-year donations from businesses and individuals.

“People were being very generous at the end of the year, so we had a really good giving campaign,” Cooper said.

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The number and quality of grant requests typically mean just one round of giving, but there were fewer requests in the fall that qualified than funds available. Also, the release to the foundation was increased last year from $20,000 to $25,000.

“This time we had a little left over to ask teachers ‘What do you need for students that will benefit them right now?’ The idea was to get the money into the classrooms as quickly as possible.”

The maximum requested was capped at $250, and funds were not available for normal classroom supplies, furniture, books or Chromebooks. Teachers were required to apply individually, whereas they otherwise can combine requests.

Cooper said she hopes LEF will be able to award mini-grants again.

“It was kind of like the Oprah show: ‘You get money, and you get money.’

“Anytime we can get money in the hands of teachers so they can do their thing is great,” she said. “A lot of those things, we know they’re spending their own money on and they can’t write it off. This felt like Christmas in February.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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