SARASOTA, FL – December 5, 2013 – More than 350 teachers, donors, volunteers and school district leaders celebrated the 24th annual Classroom Grant Awards last night at Michael’s on East. Susan Scott and Cheryl Gordon of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County announced a new round of grants totaling $169,670 for 193 projects developed by teachers from 41 public schools in the district.
Added to the 51 grants totaling $73,513 presented earlier this fall, teachers have received a record $243,183 to date in Education Foundation Edge of Excellence and Exploration Grants. Each grant will provide high quality enrichment and experiential learning opportunities for students during the 2013-2014 school year.
Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, awarded an additional 19 Exploration Grants to teachers, totaling an extra $51,688 from her organization.
School Board chair Jane Goodwin welcomed the audience. “In Sarasota, we have all the ingredients for educational magic,” she said. “Motivated students, involved parents, talented and creative teachers, and an enormously supportive community with a shared obsession with excellence.”
Argosy University sponsored the evening’s reception and presented the Argosy Principal’s Award for the sixth year. The award honors the principal whose school submitted the most grant proposals by faculty size. Dr. Sandra Wise, President of Argosy University-Sarasota, presented a check for $500 to Cranberry Elementary principal Linda McCloud from North Port.
Rotary Club of Sarasota president Dr. Tim Herring closed the ceremonies with a final drawing. Toledo Blade Elementary School’s Sharon Hermanson received the Rotary Club of Sarasota’s Jim & Jean Henry Teacher’s Award, a no-strings cash gift of $500.
Gordon, chairman of the Education Foundation’s board, recognized Beverly Koski as a past board chair and one of the founders of the group’s classroom grant programs. In 1990, the foundation awarded $6,000 in mini-grants to thirteen teachers. Since then, the Education Foundation has awarded over $2,974,000 for 4,593 projects designed by teachers. The most effective projects are replicated by other educators over the years, expanding the impact of each grant.
All Sarasota County K-12 public school teachers are eligible to apply for awards of up to $500 through the Edge of Excellence Classroom Grants program. These funds go beyond what tax dollars can provide, giving teachers the tools, materials and supplies they need to develop innovative enrichment projects and try new teaching techniques. The Education Foundation raises the money, sponsors workshops for teachers, and organizes community grant-reading sessions where over 125 volunteers score the teachers’ requests each fall. Grant readings give citizens a connection to area classrooms and a chance to learn more about trends and challenges in teaching. Northern Trust hosted two days of grant readings at its Venice and Sarasota branches in October.
Teachers are also eligible to apply for larger awards through the Education Foundation’s Exploration Grants program. Area arts, history and science organizations have developed educational experiences tied to state academic standards and curriculum plans. These “explorations” are posted on a public website, EdExploreSRQ.com, which was launched in August 2011 by Sarasota County Schools and The Patterson Foundation’s Cultural Connections initiative. Teachers use the website to find learning experiences – field trips, performances, classroom visits with artists and scientists, video-conferencing – that meet state instructional requirements. Exploration Grants help teachers make these experiences possible for students. Grants of up to $1,500 or $5,000 are awarded to teachers who develop the most compelling proposals based on EdExploreSRQ.com experiences.
The Patterson Foundation, based in Sarasota, continues to match new or increased gifts for Exploration Grants, up to a total of $500,000. Half of the match will fund current grants. The other half is invested in an endowment to sustain these grants in the future.
Funding for Edge of Excellence and Exploration Grants is provided by individuals, families, civic groups, businesses and foundations. Principal sponsors of Edge grants are Bank of America Client Foundation, Frederick W. and Margaret D. Kurtz Fund, and Judith Hoffman. Sponsors of multiple grants include the Amscot “Just A Dollar” Campaign, the Julius Brandenburg Legacy Fund, Jerry and Nancy Kaplan and the Abe & Catherine Kaplan Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Koski Family Foundation, Eloise Malinsky, David A. and Jean A. Mitchell, The Morin Family, William and Carol Muth in Memory of Eileen Muth and Margaret Clark, Betty and Stanley Pelletz, Odile Robertson Fund of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, John and Ann Ross / The Tracy Ross Memorial Trust, Sarasota Classified / Teachers Association, Gary and Madelaine Sheipline, Jan and Don Smally, Jon F. Swift, Inc. and Swift Family Foundation, Sun Hydraulics, and The Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Inc. from the Ella A. Wiselogel Fund for Teachers.
Producing Sponsors of Exploration Grants include Achieva Credit Union, which donated $25,000 from its 2012 Reindeer Trot Run/Walk. At opening ceremonies for its 2013 Reindeer Trot on December 7, credit union managers are recognizing the seventeen teachers who have won this year’s Achieva Exploration Grants.
Other Producing Sponsors are Gettel Automotive, Sherry and Thomas Koski, and the Harry Leopold Foundation at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Hank Gabriel and Sean McGuire, General Managers of Gettel Acura and Gettel Hyundai, presented a big check for $25,000 from the Gettel Family of Dealerships at the awards ceremony.
The Education Foundation’s Grants Committee is chaired by John LaCivita and includes Carlotta Cooley, Jerry Kaplan, Lisa Kates, Wendy Katz, George McGonagill, Helen C. Martin, Susan Morris, and Loretta Naylor. Program Director is Michelle Frau.