Santa Fe ISD educators were surprised on Dec. 2 with grant funds from the Santa Fe Texas Education Foundation. The grants are announced parade-style with the high school drum line, Santa Claus and numerous elves from the foundation’s board. Select donors and other community leaders also ride on the school bus to visit each campus. The grant funds will benefit students by providing new library books, robotics components, laptops, tablet computers, science lab equipment and other innovative educational materials. Since its establishment in 2010, the foundation has granted over $480,000 that has made a strong impact on education in the community.

One of the most significant projects being funded by the foundation is a STEM Academy. Educators will attend workshops to enhance their teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at all grade levels. Participating educators will receive grants to purchase new educational items to help them implement new STEM activities in their classroom. All students in the district will be impacted by this grant because there will also be general equipment and supplies added to each campus for new, interactive lab activities. This project was generously sponsored by the Valero Energy Foundation.

Superintendent Dr. Leigh Wall added, “We are very appreciative of the support of the Santa Fe Texas Education Foundation for the educational opportunities, innovations and additional learning resources they provide for our teachers and students! The contributions and benefits of the education foundation reach beyond grants awarded, serving also to unite the district, the community and business partners in support of our children, education and their future!”

The foundation manages two grant programs, which are funded by corporate donations and individual gifts. The Grants for Great Ideas program is for projects costing over $501. This year, 29 applications were received, and 16 of those proposed projects were chosen for funding by a committee. The foundation prefers to fund projects that have the greatest impact on the greatest number of students. All of the projects are designed by classroom teachers who initiate the requests.

The second grant program is the SFISD Classroom Wish List program. This allows educators to submit requests for classroom supplies that cost less than $500 and create a webpage to highlight their request. Then, donors can choose a particular project to support, and donate an amount in which they are comfortable. Anyone interested in making a year-end donation to fund one of these projects, can visit www.sfisd.org and click on the Santa Fe ISD Classroom Wish List banner. Once the projects are implemented, the donors will receive an update from the students in the classroom they supported.

Santa Fe ISD and the foundation are proud of the impact these grants have had on teachers and students. For example, the foundation has funded science lab equipment and supplies such as microscopes and robotic kits, tablet computers, accessories and software. Our libraries now have many additional books and eBooks available. The foundation continues to provide support to ensure every student experiences success. SFISD ... where All means ALL; every student; every day!

Patti Hanssard is the assistant superintendent for human resources and the public relations officer for SFISD.

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