Learn about this year's Grants in Place projects!

May 29, 2018 |

The 2018-19 Grants in Place program is a cooperative venture between the Rural Schools Collaborative, partner organizations, and committed donors. This year's program will support 39 place-based or community-centered projects serving as many as 71 communities in 14 states. A total of 19 organizations and donors provided direct contributions. The combined efforts amounted to more than $139,000 in total funding.

Grants in Place is built around RSC's regional Hubs and select partners. In addition, this year's program featured a National Signature Grant in cooperation with the National Rural Education Association. The National Signature Grant recipient will be announced next week. All funded projects are slated for the upcoming school year.

The groundbreaking work of the Community Foundation of the OzarksRural Schools Partnership is certainly the flagship component of Grants in Place, but additional organizations and funders are increasingly recognizing the importance of supporting community-based student learning that serves a public purpose.

Please check out the projects listed below. Grants in Place-funded projects were selected from 165 applications from 21 different states. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this wonderful place-based learning initiative.

NATIONAL SIGNATURE GRANT PROJECT: In collaboration with the National Rural Education Association, Grants in Place awarded $2,500 to Andrea Wood from Moorcroft, Wyoming for her Digital Stories of Rural Wyoming place-based project. Andrea has provided a good progress report on this exemplary effort.

ALABAMA: Offered in conjunction with our Alabama Hub at the University of West Alabama, funding was provided by Parker Griffith Family Foundation, University of West Alabama, Black Belt Teachers Corps, Larry Lee, and Alabama Friends of Rural School with matching funds from the Rural Schools Collaborative. Grant recipients will attend the Digging Into Rural Traditions Conference at UWA on September 18, 2018.

  • Tiger Pride: Creating Beauty from Ashes: $825 to Monette Harrison of Greenville Middle School for a school beautification project where students will work hand in hand with the town horticulturist as well as other community members. DIRT18 Recognition event. Here is an excellent summary of this successful effort!
  • Sixth Grade Academy Garden: $1,600 to Cody Brown of Admiral Moorer Middle School in Eufaula City to allow for its new Sixth Grade Academy students to participate in a community garden that will serve to provide students with a substantial real-world experience outside the classroom. Kids will be able to work with their hands outside the doors of the building providing a service to the school community all the while building real-life skills and creating pride in their school campus. DIRT18 Recognition event.
  • The Three Sisters and S.T.R.E.A.M. Education: $600 to Warren Truitt of Mount Olive Primary School to support a gardening project that will reconnect rural-based students to the land around them, and to introduce them to some of the practices and legends of the indigenous peoples who once lived in this area. Students will use pre-existing raised beds on our school’s campus. Students will plant corn, climbing beans, and squash, elements of the “Three Sisters” Iroquois legend. Although the Iroquois were based farther north than our region (southeast Alabama), their agricultural innovations spread via migration. DIRT18 Recognition event. Here is a thoughtful reflection on this good project by Warren Truitt.
  • Growing Together: $1,100 to Brittany Williams of the University Charter School in Livingston to fund a project that will focus on beautifying rural Livingston's downtown through gardening and by partnering with local small businesses. The beautification project is a student-driven plan that will broaden each learner’s creativity and aid them in receiving and becoming owners of authentic learning experiences. DIRT18 Recognition event. Here is a compelling feature on this project.
  • Tiger's Closet: $2,000 to Amanda Kirkman and Kristin Phillips of the Black Belt Teachers Corps for their project with Westside Elementary School in Demopolis. This effort created a "closet" that includes coats, hats, gloves and socks for students in need.
  • Growing and Developing in Pre-K: $1,000 to Allyson Jacobs of the Black Belt Teachers Corps for her project with Moundville Elementary School. This program addressed the need for student-centered gross motor skills development at the pre-K level.
  • York West End Literacy Center: $2,000 to Ebonee Spinks and Devante Giles of the Black Belt Teacher Corps for their project with York West End School. This effort converted a classroom into an inviting literacy center that engages students and teachers.
  • STEAM Lab: $2,000 to Macy Bush and Mellisa Grayson of the Black Belt Teacher Corps for their project with Choctaw Elementary School in Gilbertown. This effort led to the creation of a fully-equipped STEAM Lab for students, teachers, and the school community.

ARKANSAS: Grant made in Partnership with our Arkansas Hub, funded by the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Rural Community Alliance's Partnership Giving Campaign: $1,000 to support the Rural Community Alliance's Partnership Giving Campaign that supports locally-driven community betterment projects. Applications for this program will be available early November at the RCA website.

CALIFORNIA: In cooperation with our Northern California Hub, funding was provided by North State Together and the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Green House Erection and Set Up: $1,100 to Ember Swan of French Gulch-Whiskeytown Elementary School for her students to engage in the establishment of a school greenhouse. The produce raised will be used in the school cafeteria and also will be free to the community during the summer.
  • Community Garden and Cafeteria Project: $500 to Sarah Sharp of Junction City School for her students to participate in the revitalization and repurposing of a dormant garden site that will help feed the children and families of the school. Sarah provided a January update on this project. Here is a good summary of this school garden project

CENTRAL ILLINOIS: In collaboration with the Central Illinois Rural Schools Partnership, funding was provided by Brian and Denise Reid and the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Farm-2-School Expansion Project: $800 to Molly Masulis of Williams Elementary School in Mattoon for the expansion of the local Farm-2-School program to include all of the school's second grade classes. The work will be aligned with Illinois School Board of Education science standards. Learn about about the outcomes of this collaborative Farm to School project.

IDAHO: In collaboration with our Northern Rockies Hub, Teton Science Schools, and the Place Schools Network, with funding provided by the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Tiny Home Project: $1,000 to Devon Barker-Hicks of Meadows Valley School for a project that will support eighth graders working with the high school shop class and build an 8 x 24 foot tiny home. During this place based project, students will study not only housing in the region but also housing around the world. Students will also be studying green living, grant writing, the trades, construction, and re-purposing. The students will sell the tiny home in a silent bid. The proceeds will go towards projects they choose to support in our Meadows Valley community. Check out this update. Here is a detailed update on the this wonderful place-based project's progress.

MINNESOTA: Funding provided by the West Central Initiative with matching support from the Rural Schools Collaborative and local sources.

  • Underwood School Roadside Poetry: $2,700 in total funding to Crystal Hoekstra of Underwood Public School for a project that will bring students and the community for a literary public art effort that will include writing, video production, and roadside signage.
  • REACH: $1,000 in total funding to Mike Johnson of Parkers Prairie High School for a class project (REACH) that will include multiple community service projects including the backpack program for the elementary school, the Angel Tree program, Feed My Starving Children, Elementary Volunteer Work, as well as a variety of other different community/school services. Here is a summary of this community-minded student service project.
  • Kindergarten Farm Day: $1,060 in total funding to Dennis Wutzke of Fergus Falls Public Schools to support he Fergus Falls FFA Chapter in conjunction with the Fergus Falls Kindergarten teachers, M-State, and Red Horse Ranch in hosting roughly 275 kindergarten students from Fergus Falls Public Schools, Pelican Rapids Public School, and local home school students to Red Horse Ranch. FFA members along with staff and students from Red Horse Ranch and M-State will guide students through four learning stations. Here is a fine summary of this community-based effort.
  • Student Produced News: $1,000 in total funding to Mandy Tollerud of Rothsay Public School to provide her students access to a classroom "studio" complete with lighting, sound equipment, and video recording (via Ipads). Students will produce local news stories happening within their school and their rural community. They will interview community members and experts. See the excellent outcomes of this project!
  • Career Exploration Experience: $1,000 in total funding to Cheryl Hogie of Lake Park Audubon High School to support a program that provides high school students with a variety of "local" experiences to help learn about different career pathways. Check out this project recap.
  • WCA North Science Residency: $1,150 in total funding to Courtney Puchalski of WCA North Elementary School to support having a scientist from the Science Museum of Minnesota do a residency at West Central Area North Elementary, which will engage students in the science of engineering. Check out this Grants in Place Update.
  • Minnewaska Maker Camp: Banding Together for Wildlife: $4,200 in total funding to Jodee Lund of Minnewaska Area Elementary, Intermediate, and Junior High to fund a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources where student participants will work with a specialist in the construction and placement of Wood Duck houses. Check out this wonderful Grants in Place Update!
  • The ABC's of John James Audubon: Art, Birding, and Conservation: $1,000 in total funding to Kathrina O"Connell of Lake Park Audubon Elementary School to support a cross-curricular, place-based project, which will focus on the artwork, birding, and conservation efforts of John James Audubon, and his influence on the little town of Audubon, Minnesota. It is important for the students to learn about John James Audubon, their community, and the wildlife surrounding them at Lake Park Audubon Elementary. Check out this Grants in Place Update. Here is an excellent final report on this exemplary project!

MISSOURI OZARKS: The Community Foundation of the Ozarks's Rural Schools Partnership and Louis L. Coover and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation of Commerce Trust provided full funding for these place-based education projects. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks anchors RSC's Missouri Ozarks Hub.

  • Placeworks Art Initiative: $50,000 to fund the 2018-19 operations of the region-wide program, facilitated by the Springfield Art Museum, which sends trained teaching artists into rural Missouri classrooms to create custom, interdisciplinary art lessons, free of charge to districts and teachers. Field trips to the Springfield Art Museum and/or Watershed Committee of the Ozarks Watershed Center are incorporated into the projects. Teachers are selected based on an application process. This project is expected to engaged teachers and students in 24 Ozarks communities. Visit the excellent Placeworks Instagram account to keep up with this innovative and effective initiative.
  • Ozark Mountain Music: $10,000 to expand both after school and camping programs in order to teach traditional Ozark fiddle music to more young students.
  • Missouri State University AHEC: $10,000 to support the Bolivar Pipeline Education and Recruitment Program and to expand the program to six additional counties with workshops in 21 high schools, summer MASH camps, and the Bolivar ACES club. Learn more about this regional effort: https://ahec.missouristate.edu/Recruitment/ACES-Pr...
  • Sweeney Elementary School in Republic: $1,000 to expand operation of the Sweeney Elementary student garden club and begin a sharing program through food pantries at Sweeney and in the Republic community.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: In collaboration with our New England Hub with funding from the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Baker River Study: $870 to Amber Comtois of Wentworth Elementary School to support an project where middle school students will become citizen scientists by collecting data which will help to improve the health of the nearby Baker River. They will be participating in water quality testing and biomonitoring through the NHDES: Volunteer Biological Assessment Program. Their findings will be presented publicly. The overarching goal will be to deepen the understanding of this placed-based learning using materials purchased through this grant money. Look here as we recognize and learn about this project at the RELN Summit in Plymouth! Here is a final report on this good effort.

NORTH DAKOTA: In cooperation with our North Dakota Hub with funding provided by the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Making Our Spaces Special: $1,000 to Alysa Palmer of Bottineau High School to support the creation of a Makerspace taht would be located in the school library, providing a variety of STEAM-related opportunities for participating students. Here is a progress report on this project. Please read the project summary.

OHIO: In cooperation with our Ohio Hub, with funding from the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Education Pathway Student Internship: $1,250 to Graham Local Schools and Urbana University for the development of a unique paid internship model that will support one education major throughout their Education Pathway program. A student will be selected at Graham during their Senior year of high school to spend time in a paid internship on Urbana's campus in the education department. The students will represent the department in an administrative role and provide assistance to the professors and administrators they will be learning from. This internship should provide personalized supports and reinforcement throughout the student's development at both sites."Providing a high school student with a college intern position in their chosen program not only motivates a student to seek success, it will insulate them and provide them with key access and supports from the very people who want to help them achieve their career path goals" states Kirk Koennecke, Superintendent of Graham. "Our hope is that this internship become a sought after opportunity within the Education Pathway, and that our students are competing for this unique opportunity year in and year out. Urbana's staff will be able to select a future teacher they can count on and help develop. In turn, we will be watching, hopeful to one day offer that same intern a position locally."

SOUTH DAKOTA: Funding provided by Dakota Resources, Jim Beddow and Mike Knutson with matching support from the Rural Schools Collaborative. These projects are part of the Dakota Resources-sponsored Growing Together Better and have a community/economic development focus.

  • Prairie Roots--A Community Heritage Project: $1,000 to Lynelle Yoder Hofer of the Freeman Academy to enable students in the 4th-6th grade class at Freeman Academy to use the resources located in the Heritage Hall Museum and Archives in Freeman to research the Native Americans that lived in this area and the groups of people that settled here. Students will share their findings with peers in the 1st-3rd grade class, who will then use the findings to select foods with cultural relevance to the Native American and settler groups. Students will then draft presentations and will conduct a live wax museum to present their findings to the public. This presentation will be held in several of the historical buildings at the Heritage Hall Museum and Archives. The 1st-3rd grade class will serve as hosts for the event, preparing food for the guests and providing guidance for those exploring the live wax museum. Check out this update.
  • Rustic Acres in School Enterprise (RAISE): $950 to Cheryl Deestra of Chester Area Schools to establish a school-based 3-D printing "industry" that would bring people and generations together in the unique Hutterite Colony. Students will participate in a wide variety of STEM-based learning and experiential activities. Here is a project update! Read this fine summary of RAISE.
  • Rooted in Possibility: Growing a Shared Community: $1,000 to Bailey Hurlbert-Coats of Doland School District to build at least six raised garden planters. Students will restore the existing greenhouse, leveraging what currently exists: a core principle of place-based education and sustainability. Funds will be used for the construction and restoration expenses. Check out Bailey Coat's project summary.
  • Senior Center Kinder's Enter: $1,000 to Tammy Luce of Wolsey-Wessington School to support a project where the main objective is to connect Wolsey and Wessington's older generation with its youngest generation. This would include 30 kindergartners visiting the local senior center 2 times a month for 9 months with a program at the end of the year celebrating our time together.When the student's visit they will be doing crafts, planting flowers, learning stories of what was like when they were young. They also will teach the people at the center on how to use new technology.
  • Crosswalks for Better Walks in Wall: $600 to David Ermish of Wall High School to support this unique project, which was the brainchild of student leader Mercede Hess. Decorative crosswalks will be developed and created in areas where pedestrian safety is a concern in the historic town of Wall. The crosswalk locations will be based on the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SD DOT) Transportation Plan research and suggestions. Check out this project update.

WESTERN ILLINOIS: In collaboration with our Western Illinois Hub, funding for these projects was provided by the Galesburg Community Foundation.

  • Great Galesburg Shake: $5,000 to District 205 and Jodie McNally, Nielson Elementary School teacher and event organizer, to support this district-wide effort that encourages and rewards students in grades four through 12 for strong manners and conversational skills in a professional environment. The Greater Galseburg community is involved at every step of the competition. Here is an excellent newspaper feature on this community-minded effort.
  • Knox and Warren County CEO Programs: $18,500 to support the participation of school districts in the Knox and Warren County CEO programs. This community-centered entrepreneurship education project seeks to prepare people, especially youth, to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to economic development and sustainable communities. Here is an excellent summary of the Warren County CEO program. Learn more about the Knox County CEO program.

WISCONSIN: In cooperation with our Southern Wisconsin Hub with funding provided by American Family Insurance, Dean Lund Agency, Inc., and the Rural Schools Collaborative.

  • Cambridge Farm to School: $200 to support organizational capacity building efforts for a community-based effort that works closely with the School District of Cambridge. Read about the successful completion of this project!
  • Ag Corps Project: $3,000 to Jennifer Scianna, director of the Severson Learning Center--School District ofCambridge, for the student intern program at the Severson Learning Center, which also serves as the school farm. Learn more about the impact of this "on-the-ground" effort.
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