District receives nine grants from Foundation

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The MCPASD Education Foundation handed out nine grants to seven District schools as part of its fifth bus tour on Monday, May 18.

Staff members to receive grants included Clark Street Community School's Bryn Orum and Monique Hicks and Sauk Trail's Kari Nonn, Jacki Greene and Chris Dahlk. In addition, each elementary school received a $500 grant for its respective Battle of the Books program.

The Foundation handed out $6,300 as part of its spring cycle. That total included a $500 grant sponsored by Galin Education and a $400 grant sponsored by The UPS Store of Middleton. It is the second consecutive year UPS Store owner Keith Johnston has sponsored a grant.

The Foundation has handed out more than $27,000 since it began issuing grants in 2013. Since its inception in 2011, the Foundation has also raised more than $150,000 for its endowment fund though Madison Community Foundation and has pledges and campaign contributions of another $150,000 for the next three years.

"It is such a thrill to be able to distribute funds so generously contributed by our donors to some of our many amazing teachers for inspiring and exciting programs for students throughout our school district,'' Foundation board chair Courtney Ward-Reichard said. "I am so looking forward to seeing the results of these many diverse initiatives.''

The 2-hour yellow bus tour included stops at all of the schools. Nearly 20 MHS band members played "On Wisconsin" and another song in each of the schools before Ward-Reichard presented each recipient with flowers donated by Copps and a certificate.

Other Foundation board members who attended part or all of the celebration included Superintendent Don Johnson, Shawna Bertalot, Bill Reis, Brenda Delabarre, Tom Kobinsky, Mathiam Mbow, Stephanie Moen-Mueller, Rick Sanders and Melodee Vogt.

Hicks received a $1,000 grant to support visits to area colleges and universities by members of the CSCS post-secondary preparation group. The Foundation liked that the program will engage students who might not otherwise have the ability to visit colleges. About one-third of all CSCS graduates currently attend a post-secondary institution. The grant was partially funded by Galin Education.

"This grant will greatly help our students as they make the plans for after high school,'' Orum said. "We are excited to have this additional financial support to provide this special opportunity to our students.''

Nonn, Green and Dahlk received a $2,000 grant to convert Sauk Trail's exiting, but underutilized, garden into a Monarch Garden. The Foundation was particularly impressed with how the school plans to incorporate the curriculum across all grades and subject areas.

"We are thrilled to be able to bring this dream to life and into the lives of our students,'' Nonn said. "We are currently making arrangements to put our plan into action.  Orders are being placed and a 'planting party' has been scheduled.

"The Education Foundation has given us the opportunity to do something outside the box and do it well. We dreamt about students spending time planting, caring for, observing,and interacting with nature. Now that is a reality.''

It is the largest grant the Foundation has awarded since it started its inspiration grants for staff in the spring of 2013.

Orum and student John Horner received a $300 grant to purchase two portable basketball hoops, basketballs and storage equipment for CSCS and Middleton Youth Center students. Horner will also survey students to find out the impact the Basketball Club has on behavior and morale at the charter school. It is the first grant written by a student to be funded by the Foundation.

"Playing basketball is a healthy lunch time activity, builds community, and is fun,'' Orum said. "I am sure the equipment will get lots of use.''

Each elementary school received a $500 grant to support the Battle of the Books reading program, which is designed to encourage third- and fourth-grade students to read great books and have fun while competing with peers. Students read 3-4 books from a list of 10 books, then come together in groups of 3-4 to demonstrate their abilities and test their knowledge of the books they have read. The grant was partially funded by The UPS Store of Middleton.

"Imagine our surprise when in struts the MHS marching band, my smiling principal, the superintendent and others to present us with a $500 grant to be used for Battle of the Books,'' Sauk Trail fourth-grade teacher Wendy Coyne said. "We will use the money to purchase novels for this exciting reading comprehension competition.  Thank you, Education Foundation.''

Foundation executive director Perry Hibner said MaryJo Nelson wrote a grant proposal for Park and Sunset Ridge, while Diane Boles wrote one for Elm Lawn and West Middleton. The Foundation grant committee was so impressed with the program that they decided to provide funds for all six elementary schools, he said.

"I'm thrilled that all of our elementary schools received a grant,'' Boles said. "I wanted to ensure that all learners from every income level would have the opportunity to read great works of children's literature and to be inspired to read these works by participating in a team competition. 

"Though I believe that children should be encouraged to read whatever books they enjoy, I also believe that life-long learners benefit from sharing a common literary background.  The Battle of the Books is one way for students to build a foundation for a quality literary education.''

It is the second grant Boles has received from the Foundation. Last fall, she and custodian Nicholas Smith received $1,500 for materials to help create a sustainable cycle of composting, gardening and nutrition at West Middleton.