The Kent Schools Foundation launched its first Classroom Enrichment Grant on Jan. 2, 2019.
The foundation started in 2012 and then became a 501c3 in 2014, according to Paul Bogel, the president of the Kent Schools Foundation.
“We’re young and scrappy and so we’ve been reaching out to the community to get their support for the foundation. It’s an independent charitable foundation that the purpose is really to help students across the district,” Bogel said.
He said there is quite a need for foundations in school districts because the state does not necessarily fund everything that students need.
He said over the past several years, the foundation has received donations from the contributors and has been able to support specific programs in the Kent School District.
Bogel said during the past three years, the foundation has invested in a STEM program at Martin Sortun Elementary School, which has a leading edge STEM program. He said it has also funded joint orchestra concerts that happen at the end of the year. Money from the foundation was also give to a district program that repurposed old laptops that would normally go to landfills, and giving them to families with students in the district that did not have a home computer.
While the Kent Schools Foundation has been able to get contributions, their donations really started to come in during September 2018 when it had its first fundraiser.
“We had an auction here at Fairwood Country Club and had 150 people raise about $60,000 and that along with other donations have allowed us to raise enough money to be able to start what we always wanted to do, which was a classroom grant program,” Bogel said.
He said he and the other board members expect this to be an annual grant cycle.
Bogel said if teachers want to apply for the grant, all they have to go is go to the Kent Schools Foundation website, go to the “Grant” tab and then download the application. The application will be due on Jan. 31 and the board members will announce the grant winners in February.
With 42 schools in the district, Bogel said their goal is equity, so any and all teachers in the Kent School District are encouraged to apply for the grant.
According to the grant application on the Kent Schools Foundation website, each grant proposal will be evaluated on innovative and educational nature, realistic and achievable goals, initial and ongoing benefits to the students,collaborative effort of two or more teachers, reasonable budget and clarity.
For a full list of the criteria, download the application at http://www.kentschoolsfoundation.org/grants/.
Grant winners will get about $500, depending on their idea for what to do with the money.
The budget the board has for the grants is $30,000 and he said they plan on awarding all of that money to teachers across the district.
Bogel said the board will consider grants $500, particularly if there are other classrooms or schools involved in collaborating with each others on a project.
“We’d really like to see collaboration across either a grade level within a school or across a subject level, if it was middle school or high school — like math or science — where they get some teachers to collaborate and say, ‘Hey, we really can use this to elevate beyond what the standard curriculum is in the schools,” he said.
Bogel said teachers can use that money for anything from more school supplies to bringing in a specialist to talk more in depth about a specific subject.
He said the board is also encouraging teachers to apply next year as well.
So far, Bogel said he has seen a lot of people share the grant on Facebook and has heard from his wife who works in the school district that word seems to be traveling around.
“I think speaking on behalf of our board, we’re just excited to be able to do this as a first step. We’ve made other really targeted investments, but being able to spread the generosity of our community who believe in kids and have a passion for it, all of our donors to be able to get that out into the schools and make a difference because my wife is a teacher and to be able to have an extra $500 in a classroom, in a grade level, in a school, it makes a difference. Those kids remember that and it’s all about the kids,” he said.