Tracy Phillips has seen the funding challenges that face public school educators today. As executive director for the Zionsville Education Foundation, she has also seen how ZEF grant money has helped teachers be innovators in the classroom.
“The grants reward teachers and help them go above and beyond the norm,” Phillips said. “The teachers and students are so appreciative of the money, and many times even involve ZEF in the learning process.”
Twice a year, in the spring and fall, ZEF hands out thousands of dollars worth of grants to area educators for classroom innovation, development, student enrichment and music education. This school year, the organization gave out a total of $86,000, with 10 grants totaling slightly more than $36,000 awarded in the spring grant cycle.
Included in the spring were three grants which will enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum in every elementary school in the district. These included expansion of the elementary robotics program, inclusion of second-grade classes in the Lego WeDo robotics program and enhancement of the Everyday Math curriculum for grades K-2 with the addition of a literacy component.
Phillips said that grants are merit based and are awarded to teachers in any and every subject across all Zionsville schools.
“The grant committee doesn’t say, ‘Oh we need to make sure grants are evenly dispersed between the schools to certain subjects,’ but throughout the course of time things do get evenly dispersed in all areas,” Phillips said.
The Zionsville Education Foundation is a separate, non-profit organization from the school corporation and relies on its own fundraising efforts for grants. Grant money is raised through ZEF’s two main fundraisers, Fall Frolic dinner and auction in the fall and the InStyle luncheon and fashion show in the spring. Donations are also accepted throughout the year.
The application process is competitive. This spring there were 18 applicants while only 10 were awarded; in fall 2012 the competition was even stiffer, with 25 applicants. Each grant cycle’s budget is different and based on the amount of money raised in the cycle before.
Applications for fall grants will be due around the third week in September. For more information, contact Tracy Phillips at 733-4805 or email@example.com or visit www.zionsvilleeducationfoundation.org.