Success Stories

Digital and Media Literacy

Jonathan Jones, Classroom Grant

Dorothea Miller, Jan Stauber Grant

Jane Mouttet, Thank America's Teachers Grant


Anita Cummings, Target Field Trip Grant

Denise Burton, Discovering the Outdoors Conservation Grant


Sharon Galt, NEA Foundation Learning & Leadership Grant

Suzanne Costner, NEA-Nickelodeon Big Help Grant

Debbie Hornaday, Target Field Trip Grant

Julie Valsaint, Fund for Teachers Grant

Adrienne Walker, 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant

Donna Lacour, Target Field Trip Grant


Joanna Sierka, NEA Foundation Achievement Award

Dell Quary, Best Buy Children's Foundation Community Grant

Janet Kanady, Patterson Partnership Grant

Denise Burton, Arbordale Publishing eBook Grant

Holly Whitt, Dollar General Youth Literacy Grant

Mary Clark, DonorsChoose Project Grant


James Boneck, Kinder Morgan Foundation Education Grant


Suzanne Costner, AIAA Classroom Grant

David Lockett and Jerry Miller, Motorola Solutions Foundation Grant

Technology and Engineering

Anthony Tammer, California Department of Education Planning and Implementation Grant

Have a story you want to share? Tell us what you've won!

Digital and Media Literacy

Yearbook Project

Applicant Name: Jonathan Jones

Institution/Organization: West Education Center in Minnetonka, Minnesota

Grant Name: Classroom Grant, sponsored by the Education Minnesota Foundation

Amount Awarded: $3,000

Grade Level Served: Grades 6 through 8

Application Difficulty: moderate; the application was in the form of an essay that required information about a project from the previous year, students involved in the project, and proposed expenditures.

Program Description: The grant was used to fund the West Education Center School Yearbook Project. Students from 17 classrooms utilized cloud-based applications, Chromebooks, photo cameras, photo editing computer programs, and other technology to create the yearbook. Besides the grant from the Education Minnesota Foundation, the school was able to secure a National Education Association grant to accomplish the project. After learning about digital photography while working on a project the previous year, the project allowed students to develop and grow their skills. A feedback form from participating students measures the project's success.

Internet Research

Applicant Name: Dorothea Miller

Institution/Organization: Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania

Grant Name: Jan Stauber Grant, sponsored by The Beacon Society

Amount Awarded: $500

Grade Level Served: Grades 3 through 5

Application Difficulty: easy; there was no application form. The application had to be written according to a detailed outline given in the submission guidelines and included demographics of the students that would be involved in the project.

Program Description: Albright College has a partnership with 13th and Union Elementary School. The college has been participating in a program with the elementary school for two years. Grade 4 students come to the college and the college librarians introduce them to the dangers of Internet research and how to tell fact from fiction. With the Jan Stauber Grant, the librarians will use Sherlock Holmes as the project background and students become detectives who try to find out what is fact and what is fiction on the internet.

Reading for Research

Applicant Name: Jane Mouttet

Institution/Organization: Mesilla Valley Christian School in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Grant Name: Thank America's Teachers Grant, sponsored by Farmers

Amount Awarded: $2,500

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten through grade 12

Application Difficulty: easy; an easy application form had to be completed that included a paragraph about the project intended to implement with the grant.

Program Description: Jane Mouttet, librarian at Mesilla Valley School, was "thanked" by the Thank America's Teachers project. Her grant project was called "Reading for Research." She used to grant to purchase four Chromebooks, a subscription to the World Book Encyclopedia online, and books that met the research needs of the schools' students. The items were purchased a year ago and they are still being used frequently.


History and Preservation

Applicant Name: Anita Cummings

Institution/Organization: Hartford Junior and Senior High School in Hartford, Kansas

Grant Name: Target Field Trip Grant, sponsored by Target

Amount Awarded: $700

Grade Level Served: Grades 6 through 12

Application Difficulty: easy; the application was an online form requiring data from the teacher and the participating school, as well as whether Anita Cummings had previously applied to or received grants from Target. The application also included an essay describing the proposed field trip and budget.

Program Description: The grant was used for a trip to the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, to participate in an interactive museum tour. During the tour, students learned about the history of the Arabia Steamboat, how it sunk, how it was found and excavated, and how the Missouri River changed over the course of 130 years. At the end of the tour, the students participated in the preservation process of an item retrieved from the boat.

Digging for Fossils

Applicant Name: Denise Burton

Institution/Organization: Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg, Indiana

Grant Name: Discovering the Outdoors Conservation Field Trip Grant, sponsored by Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs and the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation

Amount Awarded: $250

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten through grade 2

Application Difficulty: easy; the application was a prepared form. It required a brief justification of the need for the grant, a description of the specific educational goals and academic standards, anticipated outcomes, and a budget.

Program Description: Denise Burton used the grant money to pay for admission and transportation costs for each of her students to visit the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Indiana, where they engaged in activities that involved fossils (from the Ohio River bed). The park offers educational activities about the history of Indiana from 387 million years ago to the present. Students participated in a lab where they experienced hands-on learning and became archeologists for the day to dig for their own fossils.


Language, Art, and History

Applicant Name: Sharon Galt

Institution/Organization: Sterling High School in Camden County, New Jersey

Grant Name: Learning and Leadership Grant, sponsored by the NEA Foundation

Amount Awarded: $2,000

Grade Level Served: Grades 9 through 12

Application Difficulty: moderate; the application required a detailed description of the development plan and proposed resources.

Program Description: The grant was used to fund Sharon Galt's travel expenses to Argentina to research language, art, and history for an interdisciplinary unit at Sterling High School. In this unit, students are exposed to art, examine how artists express themselves in times of turmoil and persecution, and identify historical aspects in the art.

The interdisciplinary unit focuses on human rights in the twentieth century, with a focus on World War II and the Dirty War. Argentina was chosen as the geographical focus area because of its connections to Italy and France. The purpose of the trip was to visit museums and landmarks associated with World War II, the Holocaust, and the Dirty War to gather information about art, culture, and language in order to assemble a classroom presentation.

Interactive Learning

Applicant Name: Suzanne Costner

Institution/Organization: Fairview Elementary School in Maryville, Tennessee

Grant Name: Nickelodeon Big Help Grant, sponsored by NEA Foundation

Amount Awarded: $5,000

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten through 5

Application Difficulty: difficult; the application required a line item proposal budget; a summary of the project; a description of the goals for student learning and how each outcome would be measured; a description of student need for the project (including academic, sociological, economic, emotional, and cultural issues); a description of how students will be involved in critical thinking and problem-solving during the project; and an explanation of how the project will be sustained beyond the first year of implementation. Also, 10 percent of the grant is withheld until the final report on the success of the project is submitted; applicants fund the 10 percent of the needed materials until they can be reimbursed.

Program Description: The grant was used to fund materials supplemental to Promethean Boards recently installed at Suzanne Costner's school. The grant supported the purchase of two sets of ActivExpressions voting pods, a Classroom Jeopardy set, and DVDs with interactive content. The proposal, "Going Interactive" was designed to actively involve students with the content of lessons by taking advantage of the whiteboards in their classes through interactive DVDs, and by using the pods to let students respond to questions, polls, and quizzes. The voting pods also allow teachers to track answers and participation, allowing real-time feedback. The final report suggests that teachers who used the new materials most frequently had the highest achievement scores in the school, which were significantly higher than the scores in those areas from the year before.

Campus Visit

Applicant Name: Debbie Hornaday

Institution/Organization: Beech Avenue Elementary School in Fontana, California

Grant Name: Target Field Trip Grant, sponsored by Target

Amount Awarded: $700

Grade Level Served: Grade 6

Application Difficulty: easy; the preparation time was two to three hours. The application consisted of an online form and required a description of the planned field trip, dates, the destination, and benefits for the students.

Program Description: The grant was used for a visit to a local university. The visit was a follow-up to the school's College and Career Day, when representatives from local universities and colleges visited Beech Avenue Elementary School. During the local university visit, students learned about programs and asked the representatives questions such as, "What do I have to do to attend your school?" The grant money was used to allow two groups of 22 students to pay a visit to a local college, enjoy a tour of the campus, and have lunch on the college grounds. The goal was to expose students to a college campus experience and encourage them to think about their future and whether they would like to attend a university or college.

Learning with Volcanoes

Applicant Name: Julie Valsaint

Institution/Organization: Broken Arrow Public School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Grant Name: Fund for Teachers Grant, sponsored by Fund for Teachers

Amount Awarded: $7,500

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten through Grade 12

Application Difficulty: difficult; the application required a detailed essay and took one month to prepare.

Program Description: The grant was used to travel to Hawaii to study inquiry-based learning. Julie Valsaint and a colleague traveled to the Big Island to study the volcanoes and ecological zones of the island. Studying the volcanoes offered classroom learning opportunities that incorporate science, mathematics, writing, and reading elements into small group projects. Julie and her colleague teach programs that allow them to take students out of their regular classrooms and offer small group instruction. Students responded well to the projects, which increased critical and independent thinking, and let them develop solutions to problems on their own.

Academic Support and Enrichment

Applicant Name: Adrienne Walker

Institution/Organization: Birdville Independent School District in Haltom City, Texas

Grant Name: 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant, sponsored by Texas Education Agency

Amount Awarded: $5.4 million anticipated for three years, contignent upon funding and approved yearly continuation applications

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten through Grade 5

Application Difficulty: difficult; the application form was a template for the Texas Education Agency's standard discretionary grant application, including extra sections for narratives specific to the project. There was also an opportunity to gain priority bonus points by gathering letters of support from school board members and securing a community partner for the learning center. The applications required demographic information, evaluation and management plans, key personnel and their qualifications, essays and detailed narratives addressing statutory and program requirements, and assurance of equitable access.

Program Description: The 21st Century Community Centers project is a federal program, and Adrienne Walker's case is administered by the Texas Education Agency. The center offers programs targeting at-risk students who are in need of academic support. The program provides a combination of academic, enrichment, college/workforce readiness, and parent activities. In addition to homework help, the academic programs focus on hands-on, project-based learning. The center offers activities such as rocket science, Lego robotics, video editing, science chef, school radio stations, art in history, astronomy, Makerspace clubs, storybook art, and creative writing programs.

Zoo Visit

Applicant Name: Donna Lacour

Institution/Organization: Germain Charter Academy in Chatsworth, California

Grant Name: Field Trip Grant, sponsored by Target

Amount Awarded: $700

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten

Application Difficulty: easy; there is an online form that has to be filled out. It requires several paragraphs about the planned trip and how it would affect students.

Program Description: Donne Lacour took her students to the Moorpark College Teaching Zoo, where they observed an animal show and toured the animal habitats. Students were able to encounter some of the animals they had been learning about in their language arts unit. The students were excited about the visit and were asked to write and draw about what they experienced.


Literacy Intervention

Applicant Name: Joanna Sierka

Institution/Organization: Waterbury Elementary School in Keeneyville, Illinois

Grant Name: Achievement Award, sponsored by the NEA Foundation

Amount Awarded: $2,000

Grade Level Served: Grade 1

Application Difficulty: moderate; the application required data regarding the program participants (students considered to be at high risk of failure), their background (low-income), and proposed group size (five to eight children).

Program Description: The grant money was used to purchase a Leveled Literacy Intervention Kit for grade 1. The kit allows instruction in small groups that targets the lowest achieving students at that grade level. The kit also provides struggling and disadvantaged English language learners with supplemental core instruction as part of a developing Race to the Top framework.

English and Language Arts

Applicant Name: Dell Quary

Institution/Organization: Polk County School District in Bartow, Florida

Grant Name: Community Grant, sponsored by Best Buy Children's Foundation

Amount Awarded: $5,000

Grade Level Served: Grades 6 through 8

Application Difficulty: easy; preparation time was two weeks. The application consisted of an online form and required a detailed explanation of the proposed project, as well as data about the target audience.

Program Description: The grant was used to purchase digital imaging hardware, desktop computers, camcorders, and other supplies. The goal was to provide a safe and orderly learning environment, and enable students to successfully function in schools. The grant project facilitated academic enrichment and a comprehensive digital imaging initiative that was implemented to improve cognitive development. A certified teacher delivered an English and language arts curriculum taught with integrated education technology, digital imaging, and music production. The anticipated outcomes are increased English and language arts skills, social skills, awareness of technology careers, and improved study habits. Students will have to complete digital imaging and graphic novel projects at the end of the grant period.

Library Update

Applicant Name: Janet Kanady

Institution/Organization: Dover High School in Dover, Arkansas

Grant Name: Patterson Partnership Grants, sponsored by Scholastic Reading Club

Amount Awarded: $6,000

Grade Level Served: Grades 9 through 12

Application Difficulty: easy; the applications consisted of an online form. The applicant was asked to write a short essay explaining how the grant money would be used.

Program Description: The grant was awarded to Janet Kanady, a library media specialist at Dover High School in Arkansas, to purchase nondigital books for the school library. The library's budget was recently cut and the grant enabled Janet to replace books that needed to be updated. There was no limitation to the types of books that had to be purchased with the grant money; any subject and genre was eligible.

Digital Book Collection

Applicant Name: Denise Burton

Institution/Organization: Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg, Indiana

Grant Name: eBook Grant, sponsored by Arbordale Publishing

Amount Awarded: $850

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten through grade 5; special needs

Application Difficulty: easy; the online application was easy to complete. The most challenging part was gathering data about school demographics, the target group, and objectives and goals.

Program Description: Arbordale Publishing offers three schools in each US state a free two-year subscription to the value of $850 to their eReader book collection and additional educational resources provided by the publisher. The eReader book collection offers large group, small group, and individual student instruction. Students are also able to access the books at school and at home.

Rock Creek Community Academy has a large number of special needs students and teachers are keen to use a variety of digital and nondigital tool to increase student engagement. The academy sought the grant to support a shift toward using more digital resources for instruction and striking a balance between traditional texts and digital resources. Award recipient Denise Burton conducted a workshop to support teachers in how to use the eReader book collection in individual classrooms.

Informational Book Collection

Applicant Name: Holly Whitt

Institution/Organization: Walnut Grove Elementary in New Market, Alabama

Grant Name: Youth Literacy Grant, sponsored by Dollar General

Amount Awarded: $3,500

Grade Level Served: Kindergarten through grade 6

Application Difficulty: moderate; the application required identifying measurable outcomes and aligning the goals with the materials proposed. Data about the community was required, including dropout and graduation rates as well as unemployment and poverty in the community.

Program Description: Holly Whitt is the librarian at Walnut Grove Elementary. She used the grant to purchase nonfiction books for the school library. Goals were to obtain a collection of current nonfiction literature of high interest and to increase the reading and comprehension of the literature.

The collection supports the school's new emphasis on informational texts in the curriculum. During the weekly library instruction, Holly gave guided lessons on strategies for reading nonfiction texts. At the end of the school year, Holly prepared a report that demonstrated the increase in the circulation of nonfiction books, as well as an increase in students' passing of Accelerated Reader tests for nonfiction books based on the circulation data collected throughout the year.

Support for Reluctant Readers

Applicant Name: Mary Clark

Institution/Organization: San Elijo Middle School in San Marcos, California

Grant Name: Project Grant on, sponsored by Google

Amount Awarded: $2,500

Grade Level Served: Grades 6 through 8

Application Difficulty: easy; DonorsChoose has an online application form that requires answering a number of questions and a short essay about the project. DonorsChoose reviews the applications and might ask applicants to rewrite certain sections. There are also coaching tips on how to improve the applications. This was a student-led project, which means that students in grade 7 wrote most of the application.

Program Description: Mary Clark is a library media technician at San Elijo Middle School. The project was geared toward special education and reluctant readers. Mary and her students requested graphic novels, audiobooks, and DVDs of several novels that students are required to read or that are very popular with students. The group of students wanted to remove the stigma of either checking out what students perceived as "baby books" and to entice reluctant readers with interesting new books.

The project was a success. Many students were able to keep up in class by using audiobooks instead of struggling with reading. The graphic novels of books by popular authors like Rick Riordan and Neil Gaiman let students participate in literature circles, where in the past they would have done alternative activities that singled them out as struggling readers.


Mathematics Intervention

Applicant Name: James Boneck

Institution/Organization: Conway Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky

Grant Name: Education Grant, sponsored by the Kinder Morgan Foundation

Amount Awarded: $4,950

Grade Level Served: Grades 6 through 8

Application Difficulty: moderate; the application included an essay requiring statistical data about the participating students.

Program Description: The grant was used to fund a mathematics intervention project at Conway Middle School. The project utilizes an Internet-based software system to help students learn basic middle school mathematics. The program uses students' current knowledge to present new mathematics topics to learn. With this individualized attention, students get to work at their own pace and only on topics they are ready to learn.


Mechanics of Flight

Applicant Name: Suzanne Costner

Institution/Organization: Fairview Elementary School in Maryville, Tennessee

Grant Name: AIAA Classroom Grant, sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Amount Awarded: $225

Grade Level Served: Grade 4

Application Difficulty: moderate; the main restrictions were that the applicant must be an AIAA Educator Associate Member and the grant must have a clear connection to STEM with an emphasis on aerospace. The application included a one-page synopsis of the project (clearly explaining the STEM and aerospace connections); the lesson plan and how the project relates to state or federal curriculum standards; how the funds are used; the number of students to be included in the activities (during the current year and in subsequent years); and an itemized price list of materials. There is a feedback form to submit upon completion of the project and copies of all invoices must be provided so that the recipient can be reimbursed for the purchases.

Program Description: Suzanne Costner is a school library media specialist and a Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Educator member. The grant was used to fund a set of DVDs on the history and mechanics of flight and kits to build balsa wood gliders (one per student). The DVDs help support the last unit in the 4th grade science textbooks on inventions and inventors, with an article about the Wright Brothers. Classroom teachers covered the material in the textbook, while 4th grade students watched the DVDs and then assembled the gliders when they visited the library. At the end of the unit, the entire grade level launched the airplanes outside and competed with each other to see who could make the longest, highest flight and perform a fancy loop. Students all took home a glider and the DVDs remain part of the school's collection for future use.

Powering the Future of STEM

Applicant Name: David Lockett and Jerry Miller

Institution/Organization: Bok Academy in Lake Wales, Florida

Grant Name: Motorola Solutions Foundation Grant, sponsored by the Motorola Solutions Foundation

Amount Awarded: $5,000

Grade Level Served: Grades 6 through 8

Application Difficulty: moderate; the application was a preprepared form and asked to include information about the target audience and number of students and teachers involved in the project. Further, a detailed project and curriculum description, planned milestones and dates, and an abstract of the project were required. The application also offered the opportunity to earn "bonus points" for certain aspects, such as inclusion of vocational skills and information technology, as well as for targeting underrepresented groups or girls.


Program Description: The project was called "Powering the Future of STEM" and it was implemented with the help of Duke Energy as a business partner for Bok Academy. Duke Energy provided guest speakers, engineers, and technicians to assist students and discover potential careers. Students learned about all aspects of energy, energy generation, and energy consumption. Students studied how energy is produced and creative ways to use electricity. Hands-on projects included designing wind turbines and studying circuitry.

Technology and Engineering

Industrial Maintenance Class

Applicant Name: Anthony Tammer

Institution/Organization: John Swett High School in Crockett, California

Grant Name: Planning Grant and Implementation Grant for Specialized Secondary Programs, sponsored by the California Department of Education

Amount Awarded: An initial Planning Grant of $50,000 was awarded; an additional Implementation Grant of $100,000 was awarded a year later.

Grade Level Served: Grades 9 through 12

Application Difficulty: moderately difficult; the preparation time was six weeks for each of the grant applications. Receiving the first grant did not automatically qualify for the second grant. An instruction form accompanied both applications and each consisted of a 25-page essay. The applications further required socioeconomic data of the geographical area and student body, as well as an analysis of workforce needs.

Program Description: The grant was used to develop a National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)-accredited Industrial Maintenance class at John Swett High School. The goal was to expose students to a project-based maintenance and machinist mechanic curriculum consisting of training in machining, welding, rigging, hand an power tool use and safety, construction environmental hazards, construction and shop mathematics, construction and shop blueprint reading, residential plumbing, and residential wiring.

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